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Maritimo boating destinations - Shaw Island Queensland Australia

by Maritimo 14 Apr 14:34 PDT
Shaw Island Queensland Australia © Maritimo

Everyone dreams of finding their own private beach or secluded cove to enjoy the magic of the spectacular Whitsunday Islands of Australia.

Renowned worldwide for its stunning beauty, pristine beaches, crystal clear blue waters and an abundance of wildlife, the region attracts over 700,000 visitors each year.

Maritimo's Lead Skipper, Issac Marshall, has spent many years working in and exploring this beautiful area, and he has found some of the best locations to escape the crowds and enjoy the magic this island chain has to offer.

Shaw Island is one of his favourites, "The stunning blue water, white sands, abundance of wildlife, and protected anchorages makes it a perfect location to enjoy the very best of the Whitsunday Islands."

The Whitsundays is made up of 74 islands. Shaw Island is one of the largest of the archipelago, and is located at the Southern end of the commercial hotspots, near Linderman Island and just 10nm South of Hamilton Island. "More often than not everyone tends to use Hamilton Island as the southernmost island. Whereas in reality, Hamilton Island is three quarters of the way up the Whitsunday Islands," said Marshall.

Despite being so close to Hamilton Island, it is rarely used by commercial operators, ensuring there is a high chance you will have the area to enjoy by yourselves. An additional advantage of these southern anchorages being quieter is that the wildlife is more prolific.

"There is plenty to do and see on Shaw Island," said Marshall. "I've done sunset drinks on the beach. You pick a little shoal, go on a rising tide and by sunset, you've got water lapping at the picnic tables, it's a great place to spend some time."

"You can walk along the beautiful beaches or throw a snorkel on and see 20 meters in these crystal-clear waters. There is stunning plate coral that sits 5 to 10 meters deep."

Marshall goes on to say "I've had whales swimming off the back of the boat. During the whale season, it's perfect for the mum and the calf because it's calm, shallow and the water is clear enough for them to rest for half a day or so. You'll see most mums and calves go through there."

Shaw Island has some great anchorages suitable for all weather conditions, making it a perfect location for an afternoon play, or a much longer stay.

Burring Point, located on the northwest end of the island is an ideal anchorage when the breezes are from the South or Sou'east. This anchorage has a sandy bottom with significant fringing reef just off the beach. This is great for snorkelling on the stunning coral, but means the island is only accessible at mid to high tide.

All manner of creatures also appreciate Shaw Island. At high tide you can see schools of stingrays feeding on the grassy seabed, and turtles breaking for air. Shaw Island is also an excellent spot for bird watchers. The small beach at Burring Point is listed as a significant bird site. Between October and May, the threatened Beach Stone Curlew use this beach for nesting, resulting in a 6-knot speed limit applying to the waters within 200m of the beach.

On the Northwest side of Shaw Island is Neck Bay. Named after the narrow spit which makes the bay. This is a great overnight anchorage with protection from North-East, East, South-East and South winds. This area has a strong tidal stream so you will need to anchor close to the peninsula itself, but not too close, as there is a reef in there.

The reef is a large expanse of coral that extends a long way from the beach. Unfortunately, due to the strong tidal currents making the water milky, the visibility is not very good for snorkelling.

If you would like to go exploring, the beach can be reached from mid-tide, but you are best to anchor well out and keep an eye on the tide. From the beautiful sandy beach, you can walk across the neck to the other side of the island on an unofficial walking track. Here you will find a rocky coastline that is in contrast from the sandy shores of Neck Bay.

There is also a camping site at Neck Bay that rests on an old, vegetated sand spit between what used to be two islands that now form Shaw Island itself. This remote camping experience is a popular stopover with kayakers travelling between Mackay and Airlie Beach. This campsite is permit based, as there is a 12-person limit.

Roberta Bay, located on the Southeast end of the island is another secluded anchorage, perfect to hide from the Northerly wind. This quaint bay has a stunning sandy beach ideal for relaxing and enjoying the serenity. You may even see some rock wallabies as they bounce across the rocks in the bushland behind.

Bill Bob Bay, named after the two who surveyed Shaw Island, is located on the Southwest corner is another beautiful anchorage to spend some time in whilst enjoying the area. It is also protected from the famed Nor'easters of the Coral Sea.

Spring is generally considered the best time to visit the Whitsundays as the weather conditions are more favourable. With clear, sunny skies, low humidity, and light trade winds making it perfect for cruising.

"Shaw Island is the perfect place to either start or end your trip along the coast before making landfall at the traditional locales of Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach," said Marshall. "Or you might decide to use Shaw as your base. It can be a good bridge between the bigger islands like Whitsunday and Hook, or the islands of the Goldsmith Group further South, and even Schofield Island, and Refuge Bay. Everything's close to Shaw Island, and you can just pop over to Hamilton Island or Mackay for extra supplies if you need to."

It could be that the shade of blue which is not to be found anywhere else makes Shaw Island a place that you will never want to leave. Today, with sufficient phone and internet coverage here, maybe you won't have too...

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