Staying at Airlie Beach was ideal, because we had easy access to the Whitsunday Islands trips.
Airlie Beach was beautiful itself, but the Whitsunday Islands – in particular Whitehaven Beach – were without a doubt the most incredible places we saw during our time downunder.
Before our trip I had no idea quite how vast the collection of Islands were, let alone that there were actually seventy four of them!
We booked our excursion with STA Travel, and a local tour company based at Airlie Beach took us out to Whitsunday Islands National Park by sailing boat.
I was a bit apprehensive at first because the journey was around three-hours each way – and unfortunately the lack of wind meant we couldn’t sail the entire way – but it was the most amazing experience just sunning ourselves on the edge of the boat as the water splashed up to our feet.
Once we arrived at Whitsunday 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 thirty-degree heat.
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 the view of Whitehaven Beach in all its glory.
The tour guide explained that the current theory for that impressive swirling effect you can see in the bay area is because of the sand which is thrown into a deep hole in the ocean bed, before being thrown back out to create this ever-changing pattern.
Sadly we didn’t have long here because of the three-hour journey back to Airlie Beach, but we did manage to get half an hour on Whitehaven Beach itself.
The sand here is so fine, they give you a plastic zip-lock bag for your valuable items to keep them safe. And don’t even get me started on how blindingly white that beach was!
We were forced to wear full wetsuits while in the water because of the jellyfish, but this didn’t stop us from throwing ourselves around and charging up and down the sand banks. I’m pretty sure we even saw a reef shark at one point.
Unfortunately that was it for our Whitsundays experience, but just before we set sail, we unpacked our lunch on the boat and spotted a turtle swimming below. They’re such incredible and graceful creatures! In fact, there were tons of amazing fish around this island.
If we’re ever over that side of the world again, I’ll make sure we allocate some time to stay on one of the Islands so we can get a real feel for the Whitsundays. That’s probably not one for a backpacker’s budget though!