Date: Wednesday 18th to Friday 20th November 2015
Location: SV Whitehaven boat, The Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
The only way to see the Whitsunday Islands is by boat and, my god, do you want to see the Whitsunday Islands. When you’re travelling up or down the East Coast of Australia everyone will say ‘have you been to the Whitsundays yet?’ It is THE place to go and even though I’m not really one for following the crowd… you have to go. Right down at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, they are a beautiful set of sand islands some of which are forested, some not but all are made of the most beautiful fine white sand, surrounded by stunning coral reefs.
I chose to travel on the SV Whitehaven which comes under the ‘Adventure’ category of trips. The Whitsundays have three categories of boats ‘Party’; mostly filled by the 18-22 crowd…I don’t want to know what happens on these boats, ‘Adventure’; for people like me who want to want to see the Whitsundays in all their glory but still have a drink in the evenings and ‘Family’ for older people and couples. The SV Whitehaven is a medium sized sailing boat, big enough to fit 20 people sleeping for the night and small enough to still have a wonderfully intimate feeling. Run by some of the most fun and chilled out tour guides I found, they will make sure you see all the best bits of the Whitsundays and have a great time doing it. These are people who obviously absolutely love their job, and why wouldn’t they?
The tour takes two days, on the first you spend the morning sailing through the bright blue sea with the wind in your hair and what seems like the whole world stretched out in front of you. You come to a stop at a sheltered cove which has some amazing snorkelling and if you’re lucky a turtle or two, then after a few hours you get back on board for an amazing lunch. The afternoon is spent getting to know your boatmates (… boatmates? Yeah, I’m going with it) while lounging in the sun on the front deck and waiting to see the sun set over the prow of the boat.
As night falls and the boat moors up you can either head down to your bunk to sleep, or set out your bed on deck under the beautiful stars. I opted for outdoors sleep, admiring the constellations, at least for a few hours. It gets surprisingly cold out at sea.
On the second day comes the highlight of the tour; Whitehaven Beach. Pulling up at a small inlet on what’s called the ‘back’ side of the island you get introduced to S**t beach. At first look you wonder why it deserves its name, it’s really not that bad. Then you walk through the forest (up a hill no less) for about 20 minutes until you come to the island viewpoint and then in front of you is one of the most spectacular beaches you have ever seen. Bright white sand and perfect turquoise sea stretching out in front of you. I’ve added a photo below but so far no photo I’ve seen has done it justice, it has to be seen to be believed.
Not only is the sand pure white and super fine, and the sea crystal clear and as warm as a bath, it’s also full of sharks and stingrays! That’s better than it sounds, as in the sharks are little baby sharks (under a metre long) and won’t come near you but they are pretty cool to watch. And the stingrays stay in the shallows and keep themselves to themselves but you can get a very close look at these elegant creatures in the wild. After soaking up the scenery and the sun we headed back to the boat for an amazing lunch, followed by more snorkelling and kayaking around the island. This was some of the most fantastic snorkelling I have ever done and because of the laidback vibe of the trip you can wander to your heart’s desire. There aren’t many rules and the time limit isn’t one that’s going to bother you. Besides if you get bored of snorkelling you can always just spend your time jumping off the boat instead.
The whole trip ended with a chilled out return to the harbour where if you ask nicely they’ll let you drive the boat too.