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The Whitsunday Regional Information Centre  (  tel. 07/4945 3967; www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au) is at 192 Main St., Proserpine (on the Bruce Highway in the towns south). Its run by Tourism Whitsundays and is open daily from 10am to 5pm and on public holidays (except Good Friday and Christmas Day) from 8:30am to 5pm. Its also easy to pick up information from the private booking agents lining the main street of Airlie Beach. All stock a vast range of cruise, tour, and hotel information, and make bookings free of charge. All have similar material, but because some represent certain boats exclusively, and because prices can vary a little from one to the next, it pays to shop around

Safety in the Water

Deadly marine stingers may frequent the shorelines of the Whitsundays from October through April. The best place to swim is in the beachfront Airlie Beach lagoon.

The rivers in these parts are home to dangerous saltwater crocodiles (which mostly live in fresh water, contrary to their name), so don't swim in streams, rivers, and water holes.

Choosing a Whitsunday Base

The advantages of staying on the mainland are cheaper accommodations, a choice of restaurants, and the freedom to visit a different island each day. The mainland has jet-skiing, kayaking, parasailing, catamaran rental, and windsurfing.

The main advantage of staying on an island is that swimming, snorkeling, bushwalking, and a huge range of watersports, many of them free, are right outside your door. The deadly stingers that can infest Airlie's shores do not make it to the islands, so swimming in the islands is safe year-round. You won't be isolated if you stay on an island, because most Great Barrier Reef cruise boats, sail-and-snorkel yacht excursions, Whitehaven Beach cruises, dive boats, fishing tour vessels, and so on stop at the island resorts every day or on a frequent basis. Be warned, however, that once you're "captive" on an island, you may be slugged with high food and drink prices. Bear in mind, too, that although most island resorts offer nonmotorized watersports, such as windsurfing and catamaran sailing, free of charge, you will pay for activities that use fuel, such as parasailing, water-skiing, and dinghy rental.

In some places in the Whitsundays, extreme low tides may reveal rocky mud flats below the sand line. Watersports can be limited then because of the low water level.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.