Join Our Newsletter

Home » Ten Tips for the Perfect Family Sailing Vacation

Family holidays are special occasions that make foundational memories in the constantly changing landscape of a child’s mental and emotional development. What better place to do that than on a chartered yacht, sailing in the Whitsunday’s? With 74 Islands to explore the possibilities are endless. This special sailing ground is a nature lover’s dream with idyllic stretches of beach, numerous uninhabited islands teeming with wildlife and stunning coral reefs. At Queensland Yacht Charters you have the option of a Bareboat Charter where you sail yourself or we can provide a Sail Guide to sail the vessel for you, and if you want to really just relax, we can also provide a cook/hostess. If you are planning a family sailing holiday, here are our tips to help make life a little easier on board and help you all have an amazing time.

Download our Base Guide for lots of info on Chartering in the Whitsundays.

#1 Rent a Catamaran and go Sailing With Friends

These two things go hand-in-hand. Whether you are chartering a bareboat or hiring a professional Sail Guide, life is always better with family and friends. Although boats are confined spaces, a catamaran offers a feeling of privacy and personal space as each family can inhabit a separate hull, making it the perfect option for sailing with children. Even a small 38ft catamaran sleeps 10, so two families of four fit really nicely on either side of the yacht. Catamarans are wonderful for family cruising. They are steady in the water, don’t heel over, which can be alarming for kids. They have loads of inside space and the galley is at the same level as the cockpit, which means the kids can be inside or outside and you will still be able to see them. Cats are also easy to get in and out of and the trampoline up front is a great safe place for kids to chill and relax, and with a shallow draft Catamarans can moor closer to the beaches. Take a look at our Fleet to choose your perfect boat.

#2 Book a sleepaboard

We offer a sleep aboard service which allows you to sleep aboard the vessel the night prior to your charter, check-in is 4pm. This allows you time to arrive, do your shopping and relax the night before and be ready for your briefing on the morning of your charter.

You will have a 10 – 15 minute sleep aboard brief, which involves a quick orientation of the basics on board such as lighting, electrics, toilets etc. The kid’s can choose their beds and can get familiar with the boat before you set sail.

#3 Health and Medical Supplies 

Pack your usual medical kit for your family, including all medicines you need on a regular basis. Remember you are on a boat, more than likely in a remote location, and it could take time to get ashore. If your child has any allergies, ensure that you have packed all required medication.

A few basics to include in your luggage: Pain and fever relief, Insect repellent, Plasters that stick well in a wet environment, plenty of sunscreen – you will need to apply it several times a day.

#4 The Perfect Provisioning

You can provision yourself on arrival at the local supermarkets, ask our reservations team about shopping for your Charter, they will be happy to point you in the right direction and offer a few tips on what to buy and quantities and sizes of the fridges etc. Alternatively you can order in advance and get it delivered for your arrival or use our recommended provisioning service Whitprov, Whitsunday Provisioning.

Chartering in the Whitsunday’s is ideal for fishing and catching your own fish for dinner is a fun activity for all of the family and a real thrill for kid’s. Read our blog “Everything you need to know about fishing on your Whitsunday’s sailing vacation”, where we give you great tips on fishing from a boat and some inside knowledge about where the best Fishing spots are in the Whitsunday’s.

*Make sure you’re fishing only in the permitted zones. Get the official info here.

Kid’s love to help and be a part of it all, so where you can, involve them in preparing and cooking meals – make it fun – make little boats with a cheese sail on a half-boiled egg for example!

Sailing is hard work for small bodies and regular snacks will keep everyone even-keeling. Stock the galley with treats that you can produce quickly so you can avoid “hangry” children.

#5 Cool Clothes

Obviously, your kid’s will have their own ideas on what they are wearing and what comes with them on your Sailing Holiday. Light cotton clothes are best with an option for cooler nights or rainy days. Pack all the swimming costumes and sunhats you have and that’s the basics covered. (They will mostly live in their swimming costumes so have a few pairs – which is also part of the fun, unless of course you have a child like mine – who insisted on wearing her tutu and rainbow gumboots everywhere).

#6 Engaging Entertainment

It is nice to think of your sailing holiday as the perfect break from digital devices, but they are useful for downtime during sails, early mornings or to get out of the sun for a while. A movie on a laptop, a game on an iPad or a good audiobook may work wonders. 

For more traditional entertainment, card games are very versatile and take up no space. Don’t forget to pack drawing or colouring books for a great creative outlet, books to read, and any number of great travel-sized games such as UNO or Bananagrams. 

Make a Holiday Journal and record your adventures with photos or hand drawn illustrations of your Holiday, add photos/illustrations of the Wildlife you have seen along the way and where you have seen it, interesting Flora and Fauna on the Islands and any treasures you find. A journal is a great keepsake for Children.

Speaking of Treasure’s make your own beach treasure Hunt and dress up as Pirates for authenticity.

Onboard you can make the kids part of the crew by giving them jobs to do on the boat. They can coil ropes, learn to tie knots, help hoist and drop the sails and be on look-out duty. 

Another idea is having hand lines for fishing with while at anchor. Ask your local fishing shop to put one together for you. All you really need is the reel, a line and a hook and the kids are bound to catch something.

#7 Wear life jackets

While underway, all children must wear life jackets if they are outside. When sailing with children, either bring your own or hire from Aquadive in Coral Sea Marina, (just below our Charter Office) they will ensure you have the correct size life jackets for them on board. We provide Snorkelling gear free of charge on all of our vessels provided by Aquadive (Aquadive sanitises all of the snorkelling gear and provides a large selection of sizes.) Stinger Suits for children and adults may also be hired from Aqua Dive.

#8 safety on the boat

Establish simple safety rules and ensure the children learn them and stick to them. If you have chartered a crewed yacht, the captain will give a short safety briefing, but this important job really does rest with you.

Do some research before your Charter and make it fun, depending on your Children’s ages there are some great Children’s Books about Sailing

Briefing begins before you depart, with a full boat briefing and an area briefing on the Whitsundays Marine Park. Your briefer will discuss your itinerary with you and can recommend some great child friendly spots to visit with easy walking tracks and great beaches. All of our vessels come with a dinghy and outboard to explore your own private beaches and nature walks on the Islands, and your briefer will also instruct you on the safe handling of your dinghy.

Talk to your children about staying safe on board before the trip starts and reinforce once you have boarded the boat. Appoint your First Mate – Choose one of your kid’s as your first mate and alternate the “First Mates” each day, giving everyone a turn at being “First Mate”. Give the “First Mates” a badge to wear or something similar – a cap? and give them a guided tour and include things like how the toilet works, how to avoid the boom, how to move around the boat and where the handgrips and handrails are. The First Mate can then help with ensuring the other kids are safe on the boat by helping with the rules and looking after each other.

Here are some useful rules to include:

  • When underway, all children are to wear life jackets when on deck
  • Never run on the boat
  • Always hold on to the boat with at least one hand
  • No children allowed at the front of the boat alone
  • No children allowed on fore deck while sailing
  • If the weather is too rough all children must go inside
  • Never leave the boat without permission from an adult
  • Do not go swimming alone

#9 Seasickness cures

Be prepared for seasickness on your family sailing vacation, as it can happen to even experienced sailors. When sailing, the kids may well feel queasy. Have pills or bracelets on hand and easy snacks – salty crackers are good for queasy tummies and herbal ginger drops or ginger tablets are also good. It is usually better to sit in the cockpit in the fresh air where you can watch the horizon, rather than down below in the cabins.

#10 Activities Off the Boat

The children will need to get off the boat at least once a day. Your chartered yacht will have a dinghy which will get you ashore. Excursions do not have to be big affairs, you can just check out the cove around the corner, or go ashore for a bushwalk, a swim or a walk on the beach looking for treasure. 

Always take water and hats with you.

While on your family sailing vacation, rent a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or Kayak as these paddle-powered craft are amazing vehicles for exploring the coastline, going fishing or snorkelling or simply playing around in the water off the boat. Ask our reservations team about adding Paddleboards, Kayaks or Fishing gear to your Charter. Pricing and Holiday Extras.

Snorkelling is a wonderful activity the whole family can do together. We provide Snorkelling gear free of charge on all of our vessels provided by Aquadive (Aquadive sanitises all of the snorkelling gear and provides a large selection of sizes.) Stinger Suits for children and adults may also be hired from Aqua Dive.

Many of our clients enjoy a mid-charter stopover at Hamilton Island Marina. Overnight marina berths are available. Hamilton Island offers a variety of activities, shopping, swimming pools and many restaurants. An IGA Supermarket, is available for a mid-charter stock-up, along with a bakery, and cafes for that latte if you need a bit of civilisation. Check in time is from 11:00am and check-out at 11:00am the following day. Contact Hamilton Island Marina directly to arrange your berthing or contact our reservations team to arrange it for you.

The Whitsundays are one of the few places in the world to combine nature at its unspoilt best with a range of civilisation on some of the Island’s, which can be included in your Itinerary. Chartering a Boat is a Holiday that you and your Kid’s will remember forever and as one of our recent Charter Guests said in his Blog for us about his Father and Son Charter – “It’s Time together that you can’t put a price on.

When you are ready to explore further with your Family and Friend’s ask our Reservation team about our over 60 Destinations worldwide with Dream Yacht Charter offering Bareboat, By the Cabin, Crewed or Skippered Charters, Powered Catamaran Charters, or Aqualodge Floating Villas.


Call:  (07) 4946 7400 – Email: [email protected]


Call: 0457 036 756 – Email [email protected]

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any great ideas, photos, videos or feedback you would like to share with us [email protected]

Are you ready to charter a boat? No licence required.

No licence is required for a Yacht Charter in the Whitsundays, unlike other locations worldwide. We offer a brief training session before you head out, for either sailing or powered yachts.

Our News



WHAT’S NEW 2024? Visit us at the Boat Show’s to Find Out

Read more



Family Sailing on Salty Luxe

Read more



Glenn Phillips – 20 Whitsunday Charters

Read more
Join Our Newsletter
The Dream Yacht Charter newsletter is your premier source for exclusive charter information including access to new special offers, new boats, new bases, contest and more! Sign up today!