Before I flew to Australia I was gifted a Lonely Planet book from my mum. Before this book I had never properly heard of The Whitsundays, but after briefly flicking through I just knew visiting this place would be at the very top of my list. In early November last year we set sail to The Whitsunday Islands for one whole night living on a ship with a bunch of strangers from all over the world. The agenda was simple; snorkel and visit Whitehaven Beach.
We booked this trip through Peter Pans the day before our actual departure as the weather was forecast to be pretty miserable over that weekend. We weren’t too keen on the party boat idea and the adult trips were far too expensive, so after a quick chat with a travel agent we decided to go with S.V. Whitehaven - an eco friendly boat ran by two brothers, Dave, the skipper, Will, our tour guide and another guy named Henry who made our food.
What We Did | Day One
Because we booked the day before and couldn’t be at the office before 16:30, we had to check in at 7am at Airlie Beach. There we were given eco friendly bags to place our belongings in (you’re not allowed to take backpacks or your own bag), and made our way to Abell Point Marina. We then had a safety briefing on the boat, played a quick name game, assigned to our dorms and then had lunch on the deck. Make sure you have breakfast as they don’t provide you with food on the morning of your departure.
We then arrived at our first stop of the day after three to four of hours of sailing to a place called Mackerel Bay. This was our first snorkel spot and we were provided with sting suits, snorkels and flippers. We spent around 40 minutes swimming in the reef, witnessing colourful fish and turtles from the deck before we made our way around the corner to the final snorkelling spot of the day. Here we had the opportunity to kayak, snorkel and dive off the boat. Again we spent around 40 minutes at this location until we sailed again for another 20 minutes to our final spot of the night to catch the sunset and eat dinner.
What We Did | Day Two
Our cabins were pretty small and it was strange to be in such a small room with three other strangers. I don’t think anybody got much sleep; some people chose to sleep outside on the deck whilst Jack and I got an early night downstairs. At around 6am we were woken up for breakfast and then headed to the incredible Whitehaven Beach. First up was a sweaty and humid walk up to the lookout - absolutely incredible; before we walked down to the white sands, swam with reef sharks and sting rays and then sunbathed - you’ll find that the sand doesn’t actually get hot here.
It was then time to travel back to Airlie Beach before it got dark! Travelling to The Whitsundays was definitely a unique experience. I found that the more travelling went on, the more out of my comfort zone I became. I became more open to trying out new things, sleeping in strange locations and found myself to be more confident when talking to complete strangers from all over the world. We didn’t shower on this trip which I found quite hard, the cabins were tiny, my hair was knotty and the beds were hot and uncomfortable - but it was an experience I’ll never forget.