Sailing Australia's Whitsunday Islands
Featured destinations: Australia
Published 29 September 2016
I recently spent a few nights sailing the Whitsunday Islands along Australia’s east coast. It was something that I had been dying to do since I stepped foot in Australia and, after months in the country, I finally got my opportunity. I had seen photo after photo of the crystal clear, blue waters and knew that it would be a highlight for me during my time here. I travelled with a group of six friends just a few weeks before Christmas and, after a huge debate on which boat we should go with, we finally settled on the adventure catamaran, Wings III. Not only was it a safe and fun looking trip, its main focus was on the sea life and scenery which was exactly what we were there for.
There are plenty of options for catamarans and boats in the Whitsundays, some of which are dedicated to diving and swimming, others for luxury and food. The choice is yours, so whatever you preference you are sure to be catered to.
Wings III catamaran image: Samantha Norris
Boarding the boat
Before boarding we headed down to the shops to stock up on a few beers and soft drinks, as requested by the crew, and then hopped aboard what would be our home for the next two nights. The catamaran held about 28 passengers making it an intimate but fun-sized group. We all immediately got on with one another and excitement was clearly in the air!
After a bit of lunch and going through all the formalities of meeting the crew and house rules, we were on our way. We set sail into the beautiful Whitsunday Islands for three days of diving, swimming and tanning. It promised to be pure bliss!
Onboard the catamaran image: Samantha Norris
Our first stop was Hook Island. Here, we did some snorkelling and spent the afternoon hopping in and out the water. As the Whitsunday Islands form the start of the Great Barrier Reef, the sea is filled with colourful coral and it’s likely that you’ll see turtles, dolphins and plenty of other marine life during your trip. For us, the weather was sunny throughout and meant that everything was as blue as you see in all the famous photos. It was the perfect start to our trip and opened our eyes to what the next few days had in store for us.
Relaxing in the onboard Jacuzzi image: Samantha Norris
From Hook Island we headed to another couple of spots for more views, diving and snorkelling. A few people chose to lay onboard and do some tanning, others spent the afternoon in the Jacuzzi, so it was all very relaxed and nobody felt pressured into doing anything they didn’t want to. The idea was to unwind and that’s exactly what we did!
Sunset on the Whitsunday Islands image: Samantha Norris
Watching the sunset
At the end of the day we settled down to watch one of the best sunsets I have ever seen in my life. The sky lit up red and we all sat on the boat just watching it set for what felt like hours. At the perfect moment, the crew arrived with a big bowl of nachos and some beers and we laughed through the evening, enjoying our surroundings and making new friends.
Whitehaven Beach image: Samantha Norris
Swimming at Whitehaven Beach image: Samantha Norris
The next morning we woke up excited and ready for the big day ahead… today we would visit world famous Whitehaven Beach! Known as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Whitehaven was something I had been dreaming about for years. Our boat pulled up as close as it could and then we all hopped out and swam the rest of the way. The sand was pure white and so powder-fine as we got out the water that it was actually squeaking under our feet. We spent a few hours here swimming, taking photos and walking up to the view point. This was honestly one of the best mornings of my entire travels so far. It was like being in a dream! I have never seen such clear water and, the best part, we were there nice and early meaning we had the whole beach to ourselves.
About to go scuba diving image: Samantha Norris
Once we’d had our fill at Whitehaven, we visited a few more snorkel locations and some also took the opportunity to do a bit of diving. The clarity of the water means that the diving is very good and the crew were really great, looking after any new divers and making sure that they enjoyed the whole experience as much as the others. For any experienced divers, it may be worth checking where your chosen boat goes to as some dive locations are far better than others.
After another long day of swimming and tanning (it really does take it out of you!) we enjoyed a big dinner of chicken, prawns, salads, cold meats and breads. It was just what the doctor ordered and set us up nicely for yet another incredible sunset and evening of drinking beers and enjoying our new friends’ company.
Posing in our Santa hats image: Samantha Norris
The final morning we woke up for our last morning of snorkelling and diving. Some of us spent the morning in the Jacuzzi taking photos with our Santa hats so we could send photos back home, others squeezed in their last few hours in the water. By this point everyone was really friendly and we were all really sad to know that it was over already. It had certainly lived up to expectation and is an experience I will remember forever.
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