Sailing The Whitsundays in Stinger Season

November is here and the Whitsundays’ stinger season arrives with it! While many feel hesitant of sailing the Whitsundays during this season, it’s no reason to avoid the best of what’s on offer this time of year. 

The sun is out, the water is brimming with life and, as long as you have a bit of common sense, you can still have an incredible experience sailing the Whitsundays. It’s one of our busiest times of the year and the tropical waters are beautiful for relaxing in on a hot day!

We’ve covered everything you need to know about sailing the Whitsundays during stinger season, so you can make the most of the sunny season.

What is stinger season?

A “stinger” is a species of jellyfish found along the tropical coastlines of Australia that are dangerous and even lethal in some instances. This includes the box jellyfish and the much smaller, more deadly and almost impossible-to-see Irukandji. But they’re rather amazing little creatures …

The irukandji is one of the hardest jelly fish to see - and so deadly too. but it doesn't have to ruin your sailing holiday...
Image source: Surf Life Saving Queensland (depicts Irukandji)

They’re found in the oceans in Australia year-round, however from October to May they see their highest numbers of the year – often in the thousands!

And, boy, do they love the Whitsundays and areas around the Barrier Reef… The tropical warm waters create the perfect conditions for them and they love setting up camp here. 

(I mean, the Whitsundays are pretty amazing in so many ways… Maybe we won’t blame them for hanging around.)

Stinger season is the time to keep an eye out for these tiny jellyfish. But being stung by a jellyfish is a rare occurrence. And if you’re asking how rare? Well…

“Out of the millions of “people days” each year in the Great Barrier Reef waters, in a particularly bad year, only around 100 Irukandji stings occur in Queensland which require medical treatment.” – Whitsunday Region Council

That’s out of hundreds of thousands of guests!

As long as you come with a careful attitude and prepare accordingly, you can still have an amazing time sailing without any major hiccups. 

How to enjoy a sail in the Whitsundays through stinger season

We’ve done all we can to help you prepare for stinger season in the Whitsundays, so you can still come, sail, and enjoy all the sights and sounds these waters have to offer. 

1. Wear a stinger suit!

Okay, so these aren’t exactly the best fashion statement, but they’re great protection against stingers and, additionally, the sun too! They’re often made out of nylon or spandex for comfort and they’re typically thicker than regular swimming suits to help reduce the sting of a potentially deadly jellyfish. 

If you’re not ready to invest? Don’t worry, you can hire a stinger suit for cheap from a number of different companies. Great for a short visit in the Whitsundays!

Tours often include the use of a stinger suit at no extra cost.

2. Be wary of conditions 

High-risk conditions include sheltered bays, sandy beaches, river mouths, areas with heightened water temperature, sustained NE winds, flat or calm weather, areas with sea lice felt in the area. It’s important to monitor these conditions before swimming, to ensure you’re in the safest location. They may still exist in open water and out of season, so it’s important to always remember you’re in a foreign environment and need to be aware. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t swim at all! It’s recommended to enter the water slowly – to give marine stingers time to move away – and to wear that stinger suit when in the water.

Fear of stingers shouldn't keep you out of the water, you can still swim as long as you follow these precautions!

3. Always. Carry. Vinegar.

Where a sting does occur, quick and correct treatment can help to prevent any serious long term damage. Bring a bottle of vinegar with you on the boat so, if someone does get stung, you can treat them immediately by washing the sting with lots of it. It’s also important to not rub the sting area, remove any tentacles, contact help ASAP and do not re-enter the water. 

It can save a lot of stress knowing that you have a method of treatment ready to go if something should go wrong. 

Queensland Government issued procedure if you or someone else is stung:

  1. Call for medical help (ring 000) (or if you are on a tour, alert your qualified crew members).
  2. Assess the patient and perform CPR if necessary.
  3. Remove any remaining tentacles carefully, preferably with a glove.
  4. Douse the sting site with vinegar as soon as possible. Vinegar inactivates the stinging cells, preventing them from injecting more venom.
  5. Reassure the patient and keep calm until medical help arrives.
  6. Wait at least 45 minutes before re-entering the water as symptoms of Irukandji syndrome can take a while to develop.
  7. If in doubt, treat as Irukandji

Sailing the Whitsundays with Waltzing Matilda this stinger season

Aboard Waltzing Matilda Sailing, you’ll be able to enjoy an incredible time sailing the Whitsundays, even during stinger season.

 Aboard Waltzing Matilda Sailing, you’ll be able to enjoy an incredible time sailing the Whitsundays, even during stinger season.

Our knowledgeable local skipper knows all the best locations and is extremely experienced with stinger season. We have a great reputation for providing personal service year round and Waltzing Matilda herself is known as one of the most safe and comfortable charter boats. 

We make sure you experience the trip of a lifetime, including following precautions to keep you as safe as possible from stingers.

So, how do you have the perfect time sailing the Whitsundays this stinger season? It’s easy:

  1. Choose the length of sail you want: half day, full day, sunset cruise or overnight sail
  2. Email or phone us to check your preferred dates are available
  3. Book it in so that nobody takes your spot!
  4. Show up ready to have a great time … we’ll look after your group and make sure it’s an experience you’ll love to look back on forever.

“I highly recommend Waltzing Matilda Sailing – they made our whole trip that much better the captain is a champion of a bloke and his offsider is awesome too. Anyone heading to Airlie beach should take a trip with Waltzing Matilda Sailing you won’t regret it.”

– Shane

“What a day to remember whales turtles fish and stingrays all on show. Amazing crew aboard and a beautiful boat – what a way to spend the day in the Whitsunday with family and friends. Thanks Matty and Steven for an amazing day.”

– Todd

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