When I was researching where I wanted to visit during my all too short 3 weeks in Australia, I came across a destination that I’d never heard about before… the Whitsunday islands. Now you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that this tropical paradise was not only the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but also home to Australia’s #1 rated (and top 5 in the world) beach. Sign me up!
I decided to spend three nights in Airlie Beach, a backpacker resort town that serves as a launching pad for all the water excursions you could ask for. I had heard amazing things about the full day sailing trip offered by Cruise Whitsundays so I booked it and crossed my fingers for good weather. And I lucked out big time. I really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.
I have always loved sailing and spending time on the water, but this was my first full day of real, solo travel and I worried… Would I have fun all by myself? Well, it turns out that I didn’t even have to cross that bridge. Before I boarded my vessel for the day, I made fast friends with a Scottish girl named Lorna who was also travelling solo. Yeah!
Our itinerary for the day included sailing aboard the Camira, one of the world’s fastest commercial sailing catamarans, snorkelling at Dumbell reef, a leisurely afternoon at Whitehaven Beach, and a gourmet BBQ lunch with open bar. Hello Heaven!
I happened to be traveling during stinger season (Nov – May) so in order to prevent painful stings from the prevalent Box Jellyfish and Irakanji stingers we all wore stinger suits when snorkelling. I didn’t mind. I kind of felt like Cat Woman. The coral was quite colourful and I got to see a few Dory’s swimming around. Lorna even spotted a turtle.
And then finally it was time for the main event: Whitehaven Beach!!!!! We knew it was going to be good when we could see the glistening white sand sparkling way off in the distance. The crystal clear waters and pristine silica sand stretch over 7km along Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. The sand is so white that it never gets hot and so fine that it actually squeaks when you walk. You can even use the sand to polish your jewellery… trust me, we tested it.
It’s easy to see why it is the most photographed beach in Australia and has been named the South Pacific’s Best Beach by the 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. I think it’s time for me to update my list of favourite beaches.
Everything about this day was perfect, well almost everything. I made a new friend. The crew were incredibly efficient yet highly personable (that’s a killer combo). I got to snorkel, sail, and suntan and finally set foot on my namesake (Whitney means White Island). The only downside was that despite my very best efforts to reapply and cover-up early, I burnt. I knew I would but still hoped I wouldn’t. That Australian sun is no joke.
Australia has been completely knocking my socks off. I wish I had so many more months left to explore all of the awe-inspiring sights that this country has to offer. One thing is for certain, I will be back.