We arrived at Airlie Beach after an 11 hour greyhound coach journey from Cairns. I thought the journey was going to be horrendous, considering we could have flown from London to Hong Kong in that time, but surprisingly it went fairly quickly thanks to several stops along the way and some on board wifi.
As part of our whitsundays package we already had our accommodation booked and upon arrival at the bus station we headed down to ‘Magnums’ which is where we were staying. I knew it was quite the party resort from reading a drink in Magnums was on of the things you should do whilst in Airlie, and when we arrived there were people dancing around in the club area to a live singer and lots of drinks were being passed around. There hotel is rainforest themed and the rooms pretty basic for what you were paying. There were some nice people we started chatting to staying a few doors up from us, who were travelling around Australia in a campervan.
You need to ‘check-in’ for your cruise the evening before, but as we arrived late we had an early start and headed down at 7am to store our bags at the hotel (for a $5 charge), check in and then head down to the cruise terminal. The terminal was around a 15 minute walk from our hotel and we had to meet our guides at Barcelona Cafe. You are only allowed to take one small bag on board and as soon as we saw the boat we knew why. I’m not sure what I was expecting, perhaps something similar to the shiny white catermeran which was in the brochure. Our boat was in fact a sailing boat, named Siska. It turns out that Siska has a lot of history and has in fact circum navigated the globe twice, had prince Charles on board, and also raced in Cowes and Plymouth. The open double was also a bit of a surprise, but thankfully we have recently stayed in a capsule so we were slightly more prepared some some others on the boat!
Our first stop on our sailing trip was Blue Pearl, which was quite disappointing after recently snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef. The water was quite cloudy and was filled with excess fish food floating around which was being chucked in by guides. Unfortunately John also had quite a lot of trouble with his snorkel mask, as did a large amount of others on our boat which meant he got back on board having hardly seen anything.
Our second snorkelling destination was one foot island, given its name as when the tide is in you can only set one foot on the island. The first boat load of snorkelers went out and Jamie, the deck hand, said he had dropped them off right by a big turtle. We got dropped off and decided to swim a bit closer to the beach, where out of he corner of my eye I saw something in the water, which turned out to be a sea turtle swimming meters from the beach! I managed to capture some great footage and videos of him, and several other turtles which were swimming close to the beach. It was fantastic to see them so close, just minding their own business. One foot island has a lot of sea grass which is why the island attracts a large amount of turtles, and their mating season is about to begin, so they will start laying their eggs in the sand.
Our evening onboard consisted of a hearty spag bowl dinner whilst watching the sun set, followed by evening tea, coffee and cakes. We had a great evening chatting with the crew and other passengers about their travels and experiences. A crew member from another boat came and joined us, startelling us as he drove his rib next to us shouting hello in the pitch black! Unfortunately it started to rain around 10:30 pm so we retired to our bunk bed cabin for a good nights sleep, thankfully we had a skylight above our bed, which let a cool breeze whip past our faces to keep us cool in the night, fellow passengers didn’t have such luxury and spent the night sweltering and unable to sleep.
Music blasted through the speakers at around 6:30am to wake us for breakfast. We scoffed down a bowl of fresh fruit and cereal and headed back on deck to laze in the early morning sun. The journey to Tongue Beach was a rough one, with the boat smashing from side to side for most of the ride. We arrived around 8:30am and were dropped off at the beach in the rib, before we were taken on a Busch walk to the lookout for Whitehaven beach and Hill Inlet. The walk only took around 15 minutes and we saw a few lizards along the way. When we reached the lookout the views were spectacular, the crystal clear water and ribbons of sand peaking through made it the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t wait to get into the water.
We were advised to wear our stinger suits in the sea, as there is always the risk of a jellyfish sting, and also it protects your body for the scorching sun. We only saw 1 stingray whilst we were swimming there, but a few others saw baby lemon sharks and a few fish. The water wasn’t cold and the sand was like treading on flour it was so fine. The sand is 98.8% silca and is mixed with Quartz from a volcano which lies under the water, there is no sand like it in the world and NASA are the only people to have ever taken any of the sand. They once took 3 tonnes to make a telescope.
At around 11:30 we headed back to the boat and had lunch. It was then time to start sailing back to Airlie Beach, however the 20 knots of wind which was forecast did not materialise. This meant a fairly slow sail home, although at one point the captain turned the boat to catch the wind, which then tipped one side of the boat right into the sea, just like you see in races! When we arrived back near the harbour a man called Shannon drove up next to us on a rib, and climbed on board. At that point we realised there was a problem, and the engine would not start. After some banging around, dropping and then taking the anchor back up, the problem seemed to be fixed and we could drive back into the harbour rather than be taken back in the rib!
The whitsundays 2 day 1 night trip was one of my favourite things we’ve done on the trip so far, it was so relaxing to sail about on the boat, the atmosphere was relaxed and we weren’t rushed at any of the sites we visited, which is what tends to happen on the day trips. So if you ever visit Australia then I would deffinitly reccomend this to you!