Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast of Australia lies a cluster of 74 islands known as The Whitsundays. It seems that every backpacker making a trip up the east coast heads to these islands on a sailing trip, and I can certainly see why- it was one of the highlights of my 7 weeks in Australia. The islands consist of beautiful white sandy beaches and lush jungles and are surrounded by amazing coral reefs with an abundance of marine life.
There are lots of companies that take you on cruises of the Whitsundays, and a lot of these are essentially party boats and booze cruises. However, being slightly introverted around new people, Ellie and I opted for a less chaotic boat, and so went with a boat called New Horizons. New Horizons was a lovely sailing yacht, with a large outdoor deck and cosy living quarters. It was social, yet chilled, which was perfect for us.
We departed the marina at about 2:30pm on day 1. Unfortunately, it was raining heavily, which did dampen everyone’s mood as we were all cold and wet and the thought of remaining cold and wet for the next three days was not appealing. However, the crew did their best to keep spirits high and after an orientation about safety and where everyone was sleeping for the next 2 nights, we sailed off towards the islands. Within a couple of hours, we had arrived at our overnight spot, where we anchored up and the rain began to lift. The scenery was beautiful; we were anchored in an inlet with deserted coves and calm waters surrounding us. Everyone settled down on deck with some music and drinks and we chatted the afternoon and evening away.
On day 2, we were woken up at an early 6:30am and greeted with a huge continental breakfast and fruit platter. We wasted no time in making our way to Whitsunday Island, which is the largest island in the Whitsundays and famous for its beautiful Whitehaven Beach. We of course made a beeline for Whitehaven Beach and spent a few hours here soaking up the sun and exploring; the beach is 7km long and made up of almost pure silica white sand. The sand was so fine that it squeaked when I walked on it.
After having our fill at Whitehaven Beach, we headed to the view point which provided an absolutely spectacular view of the beach. This viewpoint is apparently one of the most photographed things in Australia, and I can definitely see why- the shallow water here creates a marble effect over the sand.
We headed back onto our boat, and were provided with lunch before sailing off to our next location, which was to be a snorkel spot. We geared up into our stinger suits (there are jellyfish in the waters here) and swam about in a cove where we saw some really vibrant coral and hundreds of fish. I’ve been snorkelling before in France and Turkey but these really did not compare to here on the Great Barrier Reef. I was in absolute awe at the marine life- it felt like a whole new world under the water. When we’d finished snorkelling, the crew pumped out some music, blew up a huge inflatable slide, handed out some paddle boards and let us spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the water. This turned out to be a really fun afternoon, although Ellie got stung by a jellyfish and I broke a toe…
We woke up on our final day to another huge breakfast and casually cruised our way back to the marina for about midday. A fair few of us were a little hungover from the night before, as we’d spent the evening drinking and playing card games, so the sail back was a little trying! But all in all, the trip was so much fun; a perfect mix of sailing, swimming, snorkelling, hanging out on deck with some drinks and visiting the beach.
This trip was one of my highlights during my time in Australia, so make sure you don’t miss a sailing trip to The Whitsundays on your East Coast visit!