I’ve sailed the Whitsundays twice, the first time with friends on a backpacker boat and the second time with my parents on our own Sunsail yacht.
It is one of my favourite places on the East Coast, here’s some pictures that’ll make it pretty clear why:
The Whitsundays are a stunning group of 74 islands just off mainland Australia near Airlie Beach. The best way to explore them is by sailing and there are soooo many options that are suitable to a backpacker budget. We chose a 2 day 2 night tour on an ex racing maxi yacht called Spank Me because it suited our dates; majority of tours are the same but leave Airlie Beach on different days of the week. We also chose this boat because it sleeps 27 instead of 50+ like other boats.
The tour was amazing and so beautiful. Highlights included snorkelling the fringing Great Barrier Reef (I saw a reef shark in the first snorkelling spot!) and Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven Beach has won so many awards for being the best Beach and it’s by far the best Beach I have ever seen!:
When my parents came to visit me in Australia I made sure that they saw the Whitsundays too. They’re keen sailors so we chartered a yacht and a skipper (who became our tour guide, although it was a bit weird with him living ya for 5 days). He took us to a few different islands including Nara Inlet which had the most incredible sunset after a stormy day:
The highlight of this trip with my parents was the seaplane we got over the Whitsunday islands and the Great Barrier Reef. We booked it through Air Whitsundays and it kept getting cancelled due to the strong winds. However on the last possible day we could do it, we were given the all-clear and the plane picked us up from the famous Whitehaven Beach. I felt like David Attenborough getting to see the Great Barrier Reef from this vantage point, and was completely in awe at how it’s just as beautiful from above as it is from below the surface.
We flew over the famous ‘Heart Reef’ which was just a small reef vaguely in the shape of the heart used on all the tourist pictures. What was way better than the heart reef was the river that ran through, where you could dive boats but also sharks swimming near the surface.
Hill Inlet at Whitehaven Beach also looked unreal from above:
But it’s still insane from the viewpoint on the island: