Sailing the Tropical Waters of Whitsundays

Sometimes I surprise even myself. 2 nights and 3 days onboard the S V Whitehaven, a 17.5 metre yacht, is not something I ever saw myself doing. But the offer of cruising tropical waters of the Whitsundays, (the Whitsunday Islands are a collection of continental islands off the central coast of Queensland, north of Brisbane), sunbathing on the open deck, snorkelling coral bays and stepping on the beautiful sand of Whitehaven Beach was an opportunity I could not miss out on.

A very expensive $400 paid for 3 days and 2 nights and food on the boat, use of kayaks and snorkel gear and also 3 nights accommodation at Airlie Beach Waterfront Backpackers.

We set sail on Friday morning after meeting the 3 crew members and the other 24 passengers I was to spend my time with onboard, all of whom where really nice. We were given a safety talk and then it was 3 hours of sailing to reach Whitehaven Beach. The weather was perfect and we spent the 3 hours sunbathing and getting to know eachother.

Arriving at Whitehaven Beach, the largest of the 74 islands, the boat moored up and we jumped into the speed boat to take us over to the island. After a short walk through a wooded area we stepped onto a beautiful beach with miles of pure white sand and beautiful blue water. We spent a few hours here taking photos, sunbathing and playing frisbee and then we took a walk up to a viewpoint to witness a beautiful scene. The tide had started to go out and the clear blue sea gave way to swirls of white sand and in the shallow waters you could see Stingrays gliding through the water. Beautiful.

The next 2 days were spent sailing and stopping off at various coral bays for snorkelling and kayaking, with each coral bay getting more colourful and a wider range of marine life swimming around.

The food on the boat was amazing, lots of it and also snacks inbetween meals meaning I never went hungry. The crew were very knowledgeable and each evening they would sit with us and talk through the islands, coral bays and marine life we had seen.

My main concern about sailing was suffering with sea sickness. It isn’t something I normally suffer with but I had never been on a boat overnight, but luckily I was fine and loved every minute of it. The cabins were very hot and the beds rather slim but all in all very comfortable and opening your eyes in the morning looking through the porthole to see the sun and sea is a picture I will never forget. At night we would all sit around drinking and chatting under the bright stars. I was lucky to have a lovely bunch of people onboard and met some great personalities.

After the sailing trip I stayed in Airlie Beach for 3 more days. It is a beautiful beachside town popular with backpackers. The sea is inhabited by jellyfish from November to May. But there is a big swimming lagoon on the shore similar to the lagoon in Cairns. There is also an area of the sea sectioned off by nets. I spent my days in Airlie running, swimming, bush walking and meeting more great people. But once again, lots of goodbyes as I set off further down the east coast on a 14 hour overnight bus. Next stop Rainbow Beach.

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