Visiting the Whitsundays felt like taking a break from Earth and visiting heaven for a weekend. It was a weekend of many first experiences and each one was better than the next, and some are worth sharing here.
It was my first time sleeping on a boat. I never knew so many people could fit so comfortably in what seemed like such a small space! We were all given our own bed with air-con but I opted the comfort of a mattress for a duvet on the deck, under the stars and it was the most surreal experience of my life. Lying there under the Southern Hemisphere, I had never seen the night sky so clearly – millions of stars glaring down at us and the Milky Way shining so beautifully bright.
The amount of shooting stars I saw that night outnumbered all the shooting stars I had seen in my entire life. It got me thinking – are we so incredibly lucky to be on the Whitsunday Islands during a meteor shower or are there usually that many shooting stars in the sky and we don’t see them because of light pollution?
I don’t remember falling asleep that night but I think I must’ve been stargazing in awe for at least 3 hours before snoozing off. A couple hours later, I was woken up by the first light of the day. Dazed and confused at first, then realizing where I was, I took in my surroundings and it was so unreal I couldn’t help but to tear up. I had never felt so close to nature. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to wake up to the sounds of the calm ocean, birds chirping in the background and the gorgeous pink and golden colors of sunrise slowly taking over the night sky. It was a constant dilemma between living in the moment and taking in every beautiful detail of it, or capturing it on camera so I have something other than my memory to relive the moment by.
After the most beautiful sunrise and a light breakfast, it was time for another first experience. We were headed for Whitehaven Beach, voted the most beautiful beach on Earth with the purest sand (98.5% silica). I can’t decide which experience I liked better, the view of the swirls of Whitehaven from the lookout or seeping into the white soft sand that felt like walking on untouched snow if I closed my eyes. Did you know, the sand on Whitehaven Beach is so pure, you can exfoliate your skin and brush your teeth with it?! How crazy is that!?
After spending a few hours on heaven on earth and soaking up all the sun, sand, and salty water we possibly could, we headed back on the boat for some lunch. Then the crew did us a big solid and instead of spending the rest of the day on the boat like they usually do, they took us to a private island to watch the sunset. The “island” was the size of a big swimming pool, and only visitable because the tide was low. We were in the middle of the ocean surrounded by calm waters and burning colors of a gorgeous sunset. It’s not often when I get to watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day but what a difference it makes when I do have that opportunity!
Times like this I miss having my friends and family with me, specially those who I know would appreciate the experience as much as I do. I’d say that’s one of the biggest challenges of traveling, missing those you love. Funnily enough, that never crosses our minds as a challenge. We often think of the lack of money and security that comes with leaving everything we’re used to and diving into the unknown. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this past couple of months, it’s that no wealth or security can ever measure up to all that I’ve gained when I decided to travel. Traveling or not, when you step out of your comfort zone and follow your dream, you’re freeing yourself from everything you’ve ever been told about what you can and cannot do. Achieving that dream will leave you feeling accomplished, proud, and wanting to overcome more challenges!
TIPS FOR VISITING AIRLIE BEACH
Most boats leave for the Whitsunday tour from Airlie Beach. Here are some suggestions for things to do if you’re in the area for longer.
- Whitsunday Saturday Markets – located on the Esplanade, this market offers great local produce and crafts at a reasonable price. Check them out between 7am-1:30pm every Saturday!
- Marina walk – you’ll walk some of this as you make your way from town towards the boats but the walk goes on for so much longer! Highly recommend if you have the time!
- Hemingway’s Airlie Beach – one of the most beautiful restaurants located right on the Marina. The prices were not backpacker friendly for this trip, but I will return!
- Recommended by the locals:
TIPS FOR VISITING WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS
- Don’t stress out over all the options you have when it comes to visiting the Whitsundays. All tours have very similar itineraries. Decide on how many days/nights you’d like to go for, what kind of boat you’d like to go on (i.e. motor, sailing, catamaran, etc.), and what types of activities you’d like to do (i.e. kayak, paddle boarding, etc.). Take all this information to a travel agency and they’ll pick the right one for you!
- While traveling the east coast, I kept hearing great reviews for Tongarra, part of the Sailing Whitsundays Company. Also, there is a company called OzSail which SOMETIMES takes their guests to Whitehaven Beach for sunrise, imagine!!!!
- Don’t overpack, you can only take a small bag with you on the boat and you spend most of the time in your swimwear anyway. I’d recommend: flip flops, towel, swimwear, sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, a light shirt to throw over your shoulders so you don’t burn, something to sleep in, and a light sweater for night time.
- Take a sarong! Yes, this deserves its own point. My sarong did not leave my side the entire weekend! I used it as a cover from the sun, a beach towel, bedsheet, etc. etc.
- Stargaze!!! One of the biggest highlights of the trip (in case that wasn’t clear before, lol!) Some boats don’t allow you to sleep on the deck so make sure to clarify that before booking your trip.
- Wake up for the sunrise. I know that leaves no time for sleep in between but trust me it will be soooo worth it! And you’ll most likely get time to squeeze in a nap during the day.
- If you are short on time, you could possibly skip the 2 night stay, one before and one after the tour, at Airlie Beach. Most 2 day/2 night trips leave after 12 and come back around the same time. Check with your tour company for more details.