We dedicated a few days of our Australian adventure to Airlie Beach, purely so we could visit the Whitsunday Islands. Airlie Beach was beautiful itself, but the Whitsundays and in particular Whitehaven Beach were without a doubt the most incredible places we saw during our time in Aus. Before our trip I had no idea quite how vast the Islands were, let alone that there were actually seventy four of them!
We booked our excursion via a local tour company, where we headed out to Whitsunday Islands National Park by sailing boat. I was a bit apprehensive at first because that’s a whole lot of ocean and, well, not a lot of boat, but it was surprisingly the most relaxing experience ever. Unfortunately the lack of wind meant we couldn’t sail the entire way, but regardless it still took a good two to three hours to arrive at the Island. The only benefit of the low wind meant we had incredible weather, which was really lucky because the days leading up to our trip were cloudy and rainy!
Once we arrived at the Island which is home to the postcard-worthy Whitehaven Beach, we caught a dinghy over to the shore and began the agonisingly steep climb in what was now thirty degree plus heat. I’m pretty sure I must have lost a good pound or two just from the walk to the view point! There is absolutely nothing on this Island, not even a toilet, but I think that’s what makes it so stunning. I cannot describe what it was like emerging out of the woodland area at the top of the Island to see that view. I have never seen something so breathtaking in my life, to the point where it looked too amazing to possibly exist. The tour guide explained that the current theory for impressive swirling effect you get in the bay area is because the sand is thrown into a seriously deep hole in the ocean bed, which is then thrown back out, creating this ever-changing pattern.
Sadly we didn’t have long here because of the long journey back to Airlie Beach, but we did manage to get half an hour on Whitehaven Beach itself. The sand here is so, so fine, they give you a plastic zip-lock bag for your valuable items to prevent the sand damaging them. And don’t even get me started on how freaking blindingly white it was! The only down side to this beach is that we were forced to wear full wet suits while in the water because of the jelly fish, but this didn’t stop us from throwing ourselves around like idiots and charging up and down the sand banks that formed a little further out. To top it off, we were surrounded by gorgeous little fish – and at one point even a reef shark.
Unfortunately that was it for our Whitsundays experience, but lucky for us we managed to experience a quick turtle sighting mid-lunch break before heading back to the mainland. It’s not every day you’re sat munching your way through a pasta salad taking in your Aussie surroundings, when a fellow-tourist belts out “turtle!”, spraying crisps across the deck. Seeing a turtle in its natural habitat is beyond what we could have hoped for!
If we ever revisit Australia, which I’m sure we will, I will make sure we allocate some time to stay on one of the Islands so we can get a real feel for the Whitsundays. Seriously, if you ever have the chance to go, do. You will not regret it! Sigh, now I’m feeling all nostalgic…