Shute Harbour is the closest mainland port to the Whitsunday Islands. Nestled amongst the Conway National Park and only 11km from Airlie Beach, this unique location offers stunning views and fantastic access to the Whitsunday Islands.
Apart from the boats, this spanning natural harbour sees most of its traffic from dolphins, turtles and fish. Shute is surrounded by national park teeming with lush rain-forest and a diverse array of wildlife. Some of the animals you may spot while in the harbour include dolphins, turtles, fish, eels, rays, dugongs, plenty of fish and birdlife. We've even had whales drop into the harbour during the Whitsundays whale season.
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht is the longest-established, Australian-owned yacht charter company. We've been operating from our own private jetty in Shute Harbour since 1978.
To get to Shute Harbour, from Airlie Beach drive east for ten stunning kilometres through the Conway National Park.
If you don’t have a car there is a regular bus operated by Whitsunday Transit which passes through Cannonvale, Airlie Beach and Jubilee Pocket. Daily ferries run from Hamilton Island to Shute.
At Shute Harbour, there are two car parks operated by the shire.
The “bottom" car park is an open area on the waterfront only a 2-minute walk from the base, security does regular checks at night. The “top” car park is an open area on top of the hill just above the bottom car park and there is a staircase to the bottom waterfront car park. Reservations cannot be made for either of the council parks, but you normally will find a parking bay available.
Please be advised that there is no onsite overnight parking at our Rent a Yacht base, there is an option to organise secure valet parking for a fee with Turner Parking (Ph: 0427 317 218). If you’re travelling with a caravan or trailer and need parking please let us know and we will advise you on the best place to park.
The forest and ocean around the harbour closely resemble the flora found on the Whitsunday Islands. This is thanks to the last glacial period 50,000 years ago when water levels rose leaving the higher coastal peaks as islands. If you’re not able to sail out to the Islands, Shute Harbour will offer you a taste of what being amongst the Whitsunday Islands is like.
Shute Harbour's biggest drawcard is the panoramic views of the Conway National Park mountain ranges and the Whitsunday Islands. If you drive or take the walking track above the main harbour you’ll find Lions Lookout, a great place to soak it all in. With stunning views over the harbour towards Repair Island, Tancred Island and Shute Island you’ll feel like you’re amongst the islands.
Fishing is a popular activity at Shute Harbour. A public boat ramp is available for the launching of small private vessels and the fishing jetty has proven to be a hot spot for tropical Whitsunday fish and squid species.
To the south of Shute Harbour lies the Conway National Park. It can be accessed by following Shute Harbour Road to the park's day-use area and from Whitsunday Drive which heads north from Shute Harbour.
Conway National Park has a total of eight walking tracks through a variety of vegetation types including lowland rainforest, mangroves and open forest. One of the best hikes is up the Mt Rooper track, where hard work is rewarded with spectacular views of the Whitsunday Passage and islands. There is a popular camping area at Swamp Bay which you can access on foot or by boat.
Snow's Beach is located under Lions Lookout. It’s a lovely sheltered beach and is also dog-friendly. Barbecue facilities and picnic tables are available so you can soak up the scenery.
The walk to Coral Beach is 1.1 km which starts and finishes at Coral Beach car park. The trail will take you through rainforest before arriving at a beautiful secluded beach which you will probably have to yourself. Walk 180 metres east along the beach and look for the walking track to The Beak which will take you to a great viewing platform overlooking the Whitsundays passage and islands.
As the crow flies Shute Harbour is 19.1 km to Hamilton Island. This takes 35 minutes by ferry and depending on the conditions it takes approximately an hour by yacht.
Whitsunday Rent A Yacht's position in Shute Harbour provides a unique starting point for a charter holiday as well as being the closest mainland port to the Whitsunday Islands. Our base's private jetty and moorings offer a comfortable location for a pre charter sleep-aboard.
Within an hour of leaving Shute Harbour, you could be moored at one of three resorts, or anchored in at a secluded bay on Lindeman Island which is only 35km away. Bareboat charter guests will find they have five nearby anchorages to choose from for their return journeys (pretty handy when you have to have your boat back by 10am!). The closest overnight anchorages to Airlie beach are 3-4 hours sail away.
Our charterers are invited to take full advantage of our jetty and on-shore amenities at any time during their charter, free of charge. All provisioning companies and supermarkets deliver to our jetty, so there is no need to pay marina fees elsewhere to restock.
When you sleep aboard your vessel the night before your charter begins, you will be blown away at the tranquillity of Shute Harbour.
There is no need to battle for space among noisy neighbours or to put up with late-night comings and goings from other vessels when sleeping on a yacht at Shute Harbour.
Many of our charters who opt to do a sleep-aboard have great success when they drop a line in off their boat at our private jetty. The fish are so plentiful you hear them jumping around at dusk. We’ve also heard that there are plenty of Spanish Mackerel to be caught when trolling as you leave Shute Harbour and head for the passage.
We share more tips on fishing in the Whitsundays in our blog.
Whitsundays Regional Council has approved the restoration of the Shute Harbour terminal and seawall which was severally damaged after cyclone Debbie.
“The final design features a new seawall, a two-floor terminal with views over the water, café facilities, a new carpark, new public amenities, landscaping and three-finger pontoon jetties, including a designated recreational fishing pontoon.
The design has also cleverly incorporated some of the history and legacy of the old facility, with timber recycled from the demolished jetties to be used in the vertical façade of the new terminal building”.
Works for the $54 million restoration project began in January 2020. The new seawall will be completed before new terminal buildings and pontoons are installed. The restoration project is expected to be completed by mid-2021, weather permitting.
Photo credit Whitsundays Regional Council
Shute Harbour is as close to nature as you can get before setting out to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands or if you need a break from the crowds in Airlie Beach.
Whether you're taking advantage of a sleep-aboard before a bareboat charter or you’re staying in Airlie Beach and looking for a day trip, take the time to enjoy the beauty found at Shute Harbour.
Join us at Shute Harbour in the Whitsundays and enjoy the freedom to explore