Down Under ’18: The Whitsundays

After two nights at sea, I’m back on dry land. I’ve had a great few days exploring the Whitsunday Islands with Wings. We kicked off on Saturday with a quick meeting and sign in at 12:30 before getting onto the boat that would be our home for the next two nights. Even though it was quite a bit smaller than you’d think, it still fit all 26 of us (plus two crew members) pretty comfortably. I pulled the lucky straw of getting the bottoms bunk in the main cabin where we had our meals, so I basically got the same size bed I have at home. Win! (Even though the guy on the smaller bunk above me probably wouldn’t agree…)

We set sail off to the Whitsunday Islands, which are part of the Great Barrier Reef, and are a National Park in their own right, and it took us about 2.5 hours to get there. There are 74 islands in total, spread out over about 500km, but we only visited the two main ones – Hook Island and Whitsunday Island. These islands are so beautiful it’s quite hard to put it into words. They rise up out of the sea completely randomly, and each one looks different to the next. They are covered in forest which I didn’t expect at all, and some of them get really high.

That afternoon we had our first snorkelling experience at Mackerel Bay on Hook Island. I can’t really remember if I’ve ever been snorkelling before, but I remember being quite small and swallowing a lot of water while trying to snorkel in a pool and not liking it an awful lot. Still, I pulled the stinger suit (which is like an anti-jellyfish sting wetsuit), grabbed a floaty noodle and pulled on my googles, and off I went. At first I was a little bit scared of touching a fish or bumping into a shark, but after a while I got used to it and looked at all the coral and little fish that live in it. It was actually quite sad – so much of the coral had been bleached that it was a sea of grey, broken up by wild pops of colour where patches of coral survived. After an hour in the water, we were called back for dinner. There was only one other veggie on the trip (my friend and one of three Brits – including me – Alyce), which was great as it meant we got a whole special meal to ourselves, and got to go first to get it! That night we sat out on the boat, looking at the stars are playing Cards Against Humanity.

The next morning’s adventure was the highlight of the Whitsundays, and is probably the most famous thing about this place – Whitehaven Beach. It’s even more beautiful than it looks in photos. Constantly changing, every single picture and every single blink gives you a brand new view of the beach. It’s unlike anything else. We got off the boat at Tongue Bay, and headed up the paths to the lookout point to get the famous pictures that Instagram loves. After the obligatory photo session, we got to go down to the beach itself. We explored the beach, which has been voted Australia’s best beach and the 6th best beach in the whole world. It was so hot but so so pretty. After an hour and a half on he beach we had to go back to the boat for lunch, before heading off to Mantaray Bay for some snorkelling. This bay, despite its name, had absolutely no mantarays in at all, although there were lots and lots of fish. Then it was off for the second snorkelling session of the day, this time at Cockatoo Point, where there was a lot more coral than before. We then got back on the boat and cruises for a while to watch the sunset.

On Monday morning we had a really quick snorkel at about 7am, which was quite a shock to the system, then we had to sail the three hours back to make it to the marina for our 11am drop off. I had such a good time this weekend, despite the fact that the group wasn’t that great. But still, who cares what the people are like when you’re in a place as beautiful as the Whitsundays?

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