Let me take you to the most beautiful place that I have ever been to. 20+ countries, 5 countries, and countless cities, and you’re now reading about the experience that will be the hardest to beat – sailing around the Whitsunday Islands, Queensland.
If you’re planning on visiting Australia and this is not on your to do list, change your plans.
Snorkeling with turtles and sharks, seeing beautifully vibrant corals, and setting foot on the most valuable sand on earth – get ready for 3 days of pure adventure.
SAILING AROUND THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS
Pack your favorite swimsuit because we’re going sailing. Unless you have the money to rent a private sailboat, then the only way that you are going to see the Whitsundays in all of it’s glory is to book an overnight trip on a sail boat. I booked a three day trip, which included all meals, plenty of fun company, and snorkeling rental. Tours set off from Airlie Beach, but once you set foot on that boat you are a million miles away from the crowds.
For the most part of the trip, there isn’t another boat in sight, and the islands feel like yours for exploring.
The Whitsunday Islands are 74 islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, however their conservation status means that only 3 of the islands have been built on. Among those, 2 of them are 5 star luxury hotels, and you might want to take a mortgage out if you plan on staying there.
Sailing around the islands you could be anywhere in the world – the Caribbean, Canada, the Indian Ocean. Anywhere with sunshine, clear blue sea, and untouched islands waiting to be explored.
Sleeping on a boat is…interesting. It’s not the most luxurious experience, but here’s a tip. Sleep on the deck. Stay up well into the night and see the most amazing display of shooting-stars, and try and find as many constellations as you can.
The sunsets aren’t bad too.
However, the real beauty of the Whitsunday Islands is not above the water.
I’d love to show you photos of what I saw around the coral reefs, but unfortunately your girl isn’t made of money and a GoPro is beyond my bank account, so I’ll have to go traditional and describe it with words.
There is countless reefs around the shores of the Islands, and if you book a tour they will know which ones are the best and most accessible for snorkeling. My tour boat took me to some of the best, and you would expect that countless boats would be crowding around, leaving you to push your way through.
But no, you were the only group there, meaning that you could float around completely alone, above a rainbow of healthy and vibrant coral and hundreds of schools of colourful fish. After doing this tour we felt no need to go to Cairns to do a Great Barrier Reef tour, as what we saw was completely breathtaking and not unhealthy. Green, pink, blue and purple coral flourish beneath the waves, and the rainbow like fish they attract are happy for you to swim among them.
It’s also not uncommon to see a shark or two, and we swam with plenty of turtles too (which was a dreamy experience!).
The piece de resistance of the Whitsunday Islands is without a doubt Whitehaven Beach, one of the most famous and beautiful beaches in the world. The sand is so white and pure of silica that NASA purchase the sand for use in the glass of their telescopes. I’m yet to read an article online about world class beaches without Whitehaven not getting a mention.
Yep, total paradise.
There’s a little walk to get to the beach through national park land, and there is nothing on the island. If you’ve read Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb it literally feels like you could be in the first scene; stepping foot into the woods trying to find a magical beach.
As far as beaches go, this is the one to beat for me. I can’t imagine finding sand so soft, or so white that it hurts to look at without sunglasses. I felt transported from Australia right into a storybook.
If there is just one thing on your list to see or do, make this your trip and get it added to your bucket list. The experience is hard to put into words, and the photos do not do it justice.
HOW TO SEE THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS
If you have limited time, then you can book a single day trip which takes you to Whitehaven Beach only: Day trip to Whitehaven Beach only. However, I strongly recommend that you spend more time in the area, and a 3 days sailing trip allows you to see the real beauty of the area which is below the waves: 3 Day Snorkeling and Sailing.
Want to read more about East Coast Australia? You can find all of my Australia posts here.