Let me introduce you to my perfect (very) long weekend break: sailing the Great Sandy Strait along the west coast of K’gari (Fraser Island).

From Hervey Bay, you can take possession of a nice catamaran and go for an adventure with your friends along the wildest coast of Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island called Paradise (K’gari) by the local Aboriginal people.

fraser island sailing

It’s disconnected from the world. It’s remote. It’s relaxing. It’s in connexion with nature. It’s my favourite place in Australia. And it’s close to Brisbane.

If you look for the best destination for sailing in Australia, the Whitsundays Islands in Queensland always make it to the top. And the Great Sandy Strait often comes second.

I think the photos will be enough to describe why I keep going back for more sailing around Fraser Island/K’gari. Still, let’s make a quick list of why I love this destination:

  • the stunning contrasts of the deep blue and the sandbanks
  • the incredible opportunity to access remote places on my favourite island in the world (empty beaches, beautiful coloured sand cliffs, freshwater creeks…)
  • the amazing marine life (dolphins, sharks, rays…)
  • the sunsets on the ocean

Sailing is not as hard and as expensive as you think

Sailing is not cheap, that’s true. But it was way more affordable than I first imagined if you compare to holiday costs in Australia.

On our catamaran, the Magnetic Islander, the most expensive rate is $690/night for up to 8 people. Less than $90/person. That’s the price of most hotel rooms in Australia – and they don’t have unlimited sea views and activities included!

Compare it to an all-included package. A sailing trip includes accommodation and activities. You’ll have to purchase your own food and drinks, but that’s no extra cost compared to what you’d spend at home. It’s even cheaper if you’re lucky when fishing! My point is that there’s no extra expense and temptations when you’re on the water (except if you’re too impatient and use the motors – as fuel is charged extra).

fraser island sailing

Sailing is not easy, that’s true. There’s no license required to drive the boats but there’s no point in signing for it if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, if you know the basics of sailing and have experience on a small catamaran, it won’t be too hard to take control of the bigger catamaran there. The Great Sandy Strait is well protected and the water is rather flat. Dangers and areas to avoid are quite easy to see. Risks are limited, and the GPS helps a lot.

No one in your group has sailing experience? You may try to charter a boat with a skipper included if you have the budget.

Otherwise, your best option could be to join a tour. Viator* has a selection of tours from Hervey Bay, click here to see it.

Sailing isn’t for everyone

fraser island sailing

Some will get bored. Some will get seasick. Some won’t have enough comfort. Some will miss the long showers…

I love sailing, but I know it won’t please everybody.

Being on a boat for a few hours is different from being on a boat for a few days.

If you’re not interested in manoeuvring the boat, pack some good books or games to keep you entertained.

Good news: while sailing the Great Sandy Strait, it was easy to anchor the boat and reach the beach to vary the activities.

How to organise a sailing trip around Fraser Island

fraser island sailing

We hired our boat with Fraser Escapes. They have four vessels to sleep from 6 to 11 people.

The minimum rental duration during off-peak season is three nights, which means you need a five-day break for this adventure. Be prepared to have a long briefing in the morning when you arrive; you won’t leave Hervey Bay port before midday.

You’ll sail on the west side of Fraser Island. Don’t expect to visit all the touristy spots that usual Fraser Island tours include. You’ll be sailing on the other side of the island.

Responsible travel tip: The water you use for showering and washing dishes or your teeth will go directly into the ocean. The best solution is to choose eco-friendly products, like the natural handmade soap from Lush. At least, avoid using those with microplastic, bleach or chlorine. An eco-friendly sunscreen and insect repellent will make a difference as well as not pollute the ocean and protect marine life.

Ready to try? Or have you already been on sailing holidays? Leave a comment below to share your experience!

Looking for more sailing destinations? Read my Guide on How to charter a bareboat for sailing in Australia!

Where is K’gari (Fraser Island)?

It takes 3.5 hours to drive from Brisbane to Hervey Bay, on the eastern coast of Australia. From there, you can rent a boat and sail around Fraser Island. Hervey Bay airport also has direct flights from Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.

Hervey Bay is famous for being the holiday destination for humpback whales during winter. They take a break there during their annual migration along the east coast.

Did you like this article about sailing K’gari (Fraser Island)? Add this adventure to your Pinterest board:

Fraser Island - Sailing
Fraser Island Sailing


Eloise is the creator and writer of MyFavouriteEscapes.com. She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Sreekar Harinatha

    The Fraser island was on my list when I was down under. But due to a storm brewing as per the forecast we had to change our plans. And as it turned out, the storm was pretty bad. Guess we missed it though. Nice pics!

    1. Eloise

      Hi, Sreekar. I’m sorry to read you had to change your plans. But that was a good idea, bad storms are never fun. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to come back one day! 🙂

  2. Ana De-Jesus

    Would you believe that I have never gone sailing before but somehow I feel like I should as it looks like an incredible adventure. It is amazing that you were able to access remote island and explore freshwater creeks!

    1. Eloise

      Hi, Ana! Sailing is good fun, maybe you should try it! It’s always a great feeling when you arrive somewhere only boats can reach. 😉

  3. alisonrost

    When I was young, my family had a summer cottage on a lake and my uncle had a sail boat. The afternoons spent out on the water are some of my best memories. x

    1. Eloise

      I’m glad my article brought back good childhood memories, Alison. My memories from sailing on a very small boat as a kid are painful: I was always dreaming and I many times did not react quick enough when the boom was changing position… Many bumps on the head ahah!

  4. Jhilmil

    Sailing is indeed an amazing adventure and I have loved every bit of it. In 80%of my travels, it has been, either by luck or what so ever, I have sailed through some bays, lakes and all those have given me immense beautiful memories.

    1. Eloise

      80%! Wow, you make me jealous! I don’t find it that easy to sail here. I mean, except if you can afford to purchase a tour, but sailing tours are often quite expensive.

  5. Maro Akamatra

    All my friends know how to sail. We live in Greece after all. Unfortunately hubby get sea sick so I don’t go that often.

    1. Eloise

      Sailing is definitely less fun when you get seasick! I’d love to sail in Greece, all the photos I’ve seen looked amazing. I sailed once in Turkey and my phone kept sending me notifications “Welcome to Greece!”, so I guess I almost did it 😉

  6. jajwalyark

    Wow, there are so many shades of blue in the sea! I like how you took care to alert us regarding being eco friendly in the ocean. It looks like you had a blast! I definitely want to go sailing soon!

    1. Eloise

      Yes, the water had stunning colours and we really loved it! I think it’s very important to be eco-friendly when you go sailing. The ocean really needs it and I believe every single small effort counts 😉

  7. Tiina

    I have always thought that sailing is super difficult and expensive as well. Just saw a tv series of sailing and some how got interested in it. And now your post made me really want to give it a try!

    1. Eloise

      I hope you’ll give it a go, Tiina! If you don’t know anything about boats, it’s very overwhelming. They have their own language and you don’t always understand what’s going on. But if you go with a group, you actually only need a couple of people to be active – so you can choose to take it easy. The others can relax, or participate in other ways (cooking for example ;). Having your own boat and maintaining it is expensive. But from our experience, hiring one with a group of friends was not more expensive than another type of holidays!

  8. stephaniesherlock

    What a great idea….I love sailing and I haven’t thought to look for an outfit that offers an over night experience in CA.

    1. Eloise

      Staying overnight on the boat is really a great experience! If you’ve got the opportunity to try it, I really recommend it!

  9. Laura Dove

    Wow that looks incredible! I have never been sailing, not in this capacity, but it is something I would love to do. I love being at sea!

    1. Eloise

      If you love being at sea, you’ll probably love sailing! 🙂 I hope you’ll get a chance to try it!

  10. kalliamanika

    Wow! I would love to go sailing, it sounds very freeing and filled with unique opportunities! Your pictures are beautiful and yes they talk by themselves!

    1. Eloise

      Thank you, Kallia! Yes, you’re right. It’s filled with unique opportunities 🙂

  11. I have been sailing once. and it was such a great experience. We have not been able to go a second time but Fraser Island sounds like a wonderful experience.

    1. Eloise

      If you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll have a chance to go again! Fraser Island is my favourite place down here, so being able to explore it this way was like a dream 🙂

  12. Blair Villanueva

    Thanks for sharing another adventure. I wish to experience sailing as well, and hope the right opportunity comes in. Lovely photos!!

    1. Eloise

      Thank you, Blair. I really hope you’ll get the opportunity to sail soon. It can be challenging, but I always find it fun and rewarding 🙂

  13. Made Adayasa

    I was a seamen , sailing as a crew ship all around the world . It was very cheap for me and even earn money , hehehe . But I am sure I can’t afford to do like what you did . Sailing is not hard , yes I agree because I’ve been doing for almost 10 years . Sailing is not expensive as we thought , for me still can’t afford it and also I have to be sailor anymore .

    1. Eloise

      Oh! That’s amazing that you got a chance to sail around the world and earn money from it! I have friends with sailing skills who are able to travel the world for very cheap as they help on sailing boats like you did. I wonder if I’ll get to do that one day!!!
      When I say it’s not expensive, it’s in comparison to other holidays in Australia. Of course, this kind of budget would be really expensive in some other countries.

  14. Mei

    It might seem weird, but I’ve never gone sailing before. I feel like I’m missing on something huge now that I’ve read this post

    1. Eloise

      Hi, Mei! It’s not weird at all! Sailing isn’t for everyone, and you need to have the right opportunity to give it a go! I’m always attracted by new adventures so I think if you ever get a chance, try it 🙂

  15. xtineloves

    This looks incredible, so detailed and so full of passion LOVE it! Do you know how much is it from london??? Never been sailing, thanks for the mention!

    1. Eloise

      Thank you 🙂
      You’d need to get to Hervey Bay in Australia first, so that would be very expensive from London. However, I’m sure there are other sailing opportunities in the UK as you’re on an island! I am originally from Brittany, the western part of France below the UK, and we have many sailing boats around!

  16. Felix

    I’ve been on bareboat charters in the Whitsundays (with work mates, for team building). With the family I tried it in Hervey Bay near Fraser Island. I’d say near Fraser Island is a bit easier for beginners, as there are fewer passages, reefs and coral bommies. The Great Sandy Strait is well protected by Fraser Island, which is the greatest sand island in the world and offers plenty of anchorages. Since there are now two bareboat charter companies in Hervey Bay (Fraser Island Boat Charters and Sweet Escape Yacht Charters) there are many boats to chose from, for any budget and space requirement.

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