The 74 islands located off the coast of Airlie Beach are collectively known as the Whitsunday Group of Islands.
The islands first documented discovery was by then Leuteniant James Cook (Cpt James Cook) who sailed through the pristine waters on the 3rd of June 1770.
He named the islands the Whitsundays after the ancient british festival Whit Sunday festival of Pentacost hence the name of Pentacost Island the only island named by Captain James Cook in the Whitsundays due to the fact that it could easily be identified by future travellers as a navagational land mark (see picture below)
(If you look at this picture with your right ear on your right shoulder it looks a bit like a gorillas head or Homer Simpson looking into the sky.)
The other early settlers to reside in the Whitsundays were the Aboriginal Ngaro Tribe which Captain Cook reported seeing in his journey up the East Coast.
The Ngaro tribe built canoes to allow themselves to travel between the islands and to enable them to trap fish and other marine creatures and also to forage for vegetables and fruits.
The Ngaro tribe are believed to have been in the area from around 7000BC until 1870 (100 years after Captain Cook first sailed through here) when they were forcibly relocated to a mission settlement on Palm Island and to work in the timber mills on Brampton Island.
A memorial has been setup in Nara Inlet on Hook Island where native paintings beleived to have been done by the Ngaro Tribe have been interpereted by the aboriginal community and displayed in signs and recorded audio for free public use (see bushwalks page for more details).
If you are out on the water from June – October keep an eye out for Humback whales migrating up and down the coast. (pictured below)
The whales take part on their annual migration from their feeding grounds in the Antartic all the way up to the Whitsunday Islands and as far up as Papua New Guinea to have their young in the warmer waters.
They feed their calves between 200-300 litres of milk per day (which has the consistancy of cottage cheese) in order to prepare them with the insulation to survive the icy cold waters of the Antarctic.
They travel some 5000km on their journey with almost no rest along the way.
Their main source of food is Krill which is a small shrimp in which they eat up to 1 &1/2 tonnes a day!
Pilot whales, indo pacific humback dolphins and bottlenose dolphins also frequent the waters of the Whitsundays.