Sailing the Whitsundays was quite the adventure!
All 10 of us woke up early Saturday morning to fly north to Airlie Beach, Queensland. We had four hours to visit local markets, shop, and eat açaí bowls before boarding our boat around noon. As our boat was leaving the marina, we had a brief orientation, a “tour” of the catamaran, and were shown to our rooms! I shared an air-conditioned cabin with my roommates: Marie, Kaitlyn, and Jess, and although our nook was tiny, it was such a fun sleepover aboard PowerPlay!
We spent Saturday afternoon sailing through the Whitsundays. The Whitsundays are a series of islands located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine park off the coast of Queensland. Most of the islands are uninhabited, but this part of the world has become a major tourist attraction for sailing. We spent hours laying out on the nets on the front of the boat, listening to music, and meeting new friends. Aside from us students, there were four young couples from the UK on board. Our captain, Nicko, was also quite the character.
Our first stop was in a quiet bay about two hours off the coast of Airlie Beach. We kayaked and paddle boarded before returning to the boat for dinner. We sailed a few more hours to another, calm bay to anchor for the night. We had a delicious meal cooked for us on board and had so much fun hanging out at night!
The next day (Sunday) began bright and early at 7 am for breakfast. This was my first time waking up on a small boat in the middle of the ocean, and I was lucky enough to see a rainbow first thing in the morning! After breakfast we took a small boat from our catamaran to nearby Whitehaven beach. We were land-oh for the first time after almost 24-hours on board! We hiked up to Hill Inlet while the tide was low so we could see what this beach is famous for- the white swirling sand… and it did NOT disappoint! I’ve never seen anything like it! Yet another place where pictures truly don’t do it justice, but hopefully the one’s below give you a good idea of Whitehaven’s natural beauty.
After our hike we made our way down to the beach. Whitehaven beach is known for having some of the finest, whitest sand in the world. It was so fine that I was able to shine my jewelry with it! We got to the beach before other groups, so it was nice to have it mostly to ourselves for awhile. After pictures, we went for a swim in our wetsuits! The jellyfish are so prevelent in this part of Australia that we could not even touch the water without being fully covered.
This was a first. And hopefully a last.
After the beach we boarded PowerPlay and sailed through some rough waters (nicknamed the “washing machine”- god bless seasick medication) to our first snorkel spot. After lunch we put on our still wet wetsuits for the second time that day and took to the water for some fun. Within minutes, I saw the biggest fish I’ve ever seen; it was aqua blue, orange, and purple and at least two feet long! I’ve only ever seen fish like that in aquariums. Our second snorkel spot in a nearby bay gave us the opportunity to see Nemo, many anemone, and a 100-year-old giant clam. After our swim we rode the boat to another bay to anchor for sunset.
Tonight was one of the most memorable nights I’ve had. We sat on the nets, drank wine, and watched the sun paint colors in the sky as it dipped below the horizon. For dinner, the crew prepared sausages, steak, potatoes, salad, and rolls, followed by strawberry shortcake for dessert. A home cooked meal really hit the spot after almost two months of restaurants and my sub-par chicken dishes.
Once we were done eating, the fun began. Music was being blasted, everyone was dancing, and songs were being belted in an array of accents from around the world. To make it even better, a local dolphin named Sally was playing alongside our boat. Later on in the evening, once all the lights were shut off, we made our way to the hottub at the front of the catamaran. Since we were anchored in the middle of the ocean, there was no light pollution and the stars were the clearest I’ve ever seen them. We ended our night sitting in a perfectly heated hot tub, playing with bubbles, sharing travel stories with friends new and old, listening to “Take Me Home, Country Roads” on repeat, and gazing up at the Milky Way drifting above. It was a night without phone service that I will always appreciate and remember.
The next morning we made our way back to Airlie Beach by cruising the Whitsundays one last time. We disembarked our catamaran, said goodbye to our new friends and the crew, and spent the afternoon eating and shopping in Airlie Beach. We flew home from Prosperine Airport late Monday night, and arrived back in Sydney ready for bed and a long shower.
Sailing the Whitsundays is a unique adventure that I recommend anyone visiting Australia should do! Book through: https://sailing-whitsundays.com/