Sailing Holidays in Australia – Guide to Bareboat Charter in Australia

Sailing Australia Sydney Harbour
Sailing Sydney Harbour

Have you ever hired your own sailing boat for a few days? The sensation is awesome. It’s pure freedom, pure nature, and pure beauty. However, finding the necessary information – and an affordable vessel – isn’t always easy. I’ve been through that phase of planning a few sailing holidays in Australia and decided to share my findings and experience in this guide to bareboat charter in Australia. If you have tips of your own, please share them in the comments at the end!


1. Level of experience needed for hiring a bareboat charter in Australia

Although no license is required for sailing in Australia, it is obviously recommended to know a bit what you’re doing when you plan sailing holidays with a bareboat charter.

There are many yacht clubs on the east coast where you can learn more about sailing. I used to join races on Sundays as a crew member to get acquainted with the sailing language and reflexes. Along with some reading, it’s an excellent start to understand how things work. Then, go on a small adventure hiring a tiny boat on a lake or a river for a few hours: the basic principles are the same than for a big one on the open sea.

Most bareboat chartered companies will ask for proofs of experience (we had to list our two skippers’ experiences for hiring the boat in the Whitsundays), others will just say that it is recommended (our experience for hiring a catamaran near Fraser Island). It depends on the agency you rent from and on the difficulties in the area.


No one in your group has sailing experience?

You may 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 sailing tours along the Australian coast, click here to see it.


2. The best sailing holidays in Australia where you can go with a bareboat charter

Whitsundays Islands - sailing charter boat
Sailing the Whitsundays

“Best” is always biased. But these are the destinations that came back over and over again when I was looking for great places for sailing holidays in Australia:

1. The Whitsundays

Sailing the Whitsundays is very popular and has earned a spot on many Australia Bucket Lists.

2. The Great Sandy Strait (Hervey Bay / Fraser Island)

3. Sydney Harbour

4. Moreton Bay (Stradbroke Island / Moreton Island)

5. Tasmania

For the Hobart region (toward the D’Entrecasteaux Channel): February/March is the best season as the weather is unpredictable during summer.

For the other regions, I only found skippered charter boats or tours – which considerably increase the budget.


Other options for bareboat charters in Australia: Pittwater and the Hawkesbury River, Melbourne (Port Phillip Bay), the Gold Coast’s Broadwater, Lake Macquarie, Lady Musgrave.


Keep in mind that with a bareboat charter in Australia, you are restricted to smooth waters, and you cannot go offshore. You will need to choose a destination close to the mainland.


3. How to find a bareboat charter in Australia

Google Search is always a good start. If you are looking to sail a popular destination like the Whitsundays or Sydney Harbour, you will get relevant results straight away with the keywords “bareboat + destination”.

The ones we have used: Charter Yachts Australia in Airlie Beach, Fraser Escapes in Hervey Bay and Moreton Bay Holidays Afloat from Brisbane.

Fraser Escapes also has a boat available to sail all the way to Lady Musgrave from Hervey Bay. We haven’t done that expedition (yet!).

For Townsville / Magnetic Island, we found out the only local company that was offering charter services closed.

I was lucky to know people who owned a sailing boat when I was in Sydney, so I didn’t hire one down there. You can visit Sailcorp website for more information about the bareboat charters options they offer from Lavender Bay.

AnyBoat is in contact with many boat owners who rent their vessels. You can send an inquiry to [email protected] for more information. I have not used their service yet, but their team has always been helpful by email.


fraser island sailing
Sailing Fraser Island

4. Budget to hire a boat for your sailing holidays in Australia

Renting your own boat is not cheap, but it’s not an untouchable dream. It mostly depends on the size of the vessel and its age. Some ships are very luxurious and expensive, but some others won’t cost more than a room with ocean view in a resort. I made some comparisons in my articles about sailing the Whitsundays and sailing Fraser Island.

When you look at prices, don’t forget you will have to add the petrol on top of that.

But if you have to hire the skipper with the boat, that’s another adventure (that I can’t afford to try!).


Did you organise sailing holidays in Australia? Share your experience in the comments below!


Responsible Travel Tip: Keep in mind that whatever you use on the boat may end up in the water. Limit your rubbish and choose products (soap, sunscreen…) that won’t negatively impact the environment.


Where can you sail a bareboat charter in Australia?

This list is non-exhaustive. It just includes the destinations I have identified during my research. If you’re aware of another destination where you can sail a bareboat charter in Australia, please let me know. I would love to add it to that list – and even test it myself!

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Sailing Holidays in Australia - Guide to Hire a bareboat charter in Australia

*These are affiliate links: I will receive a commission if you make a purchase using this link but this does not affect the price you pay. It helps me maintain this website. 


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