The Whitsundays are a group of islands at the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, these are accessed via the resort town of Airlie Beach. We had booked a two day and two night tour on the 'Whitsunday Blue' we chose this tour as it didn't contain 'legendary ice breakers' or free booze. We had checked in the day before and had a wander around the town, in the morning we packed up our tent and purchased some supplies in town before returning to the camp site; to drop the car in their car storage area and then walk the 1.5km down to the marina to board the boat. Once aboard we were introduced to the two crew and the other members of our party, a Swiss Italian couple on their honeymoon and a middle aged Dane with his twenty something daughter. Once we were underway we had a safety briefing and started the motor/sail/motorsail to our overnight anchorage near Whitehaven beach, before arrival at our anchorage we had nacho's for our pre-dinner snack, lots of good food was a reoccurring theme of this trip.
Once anchored we had dinner a very juicy BBQ chicken and roast potatoes, after chatting with everyone it was time for bed, after a good nights sleep we awoke to the following view, we didn't know what to expect as we had arrived in the dark.
With breakfast (pikelets) completed we headed out in the dingy to a small beach near where we stayed overnight, from here it was a short walk to Whitehaven beach, this has very pure silica sand and warm water, we had a mess about in the water and also saw some rays and a very young lemon sharks (don't worry these are virtually harmless to humans and have never caused a fatality). After this we walked up to a couple of look outs before re-boarding the boat and having lunch en route to our first snorkeling location.
Unloading from them dingy
A hermit crab
Views of the beach
Neither us have done proper snorkeling out of a swimming pool before so this was a completely new experience, we had a safety briefing and instructions before going out in the dingy again to a section of reef. The water stays relatively warm, around 23°C in mid winter so with some thin wet suits we were relatively warm. We both borrowed a pool noodle to help stay afloat while trying to work out how to breath, the trick is to not use your nose at all, easier said then done, it took a while but we got the hang of it more than not. We followed the reef edge along at a sedate pace with the tide and saw coral, fish and a couple of turtles, it times it felt like we were in 'Finding Nemo'. After an hour or so we returned to the boat to warm up with tea and doughnuts while we moved to the next spot.
We only spent around half an hour at the next spot as by now we were all rather tired and cold. Instead of the reef just being alongside us, this time we were swimming through underwater gorges, and navigating around huge coral rocks. This meant that whenever you came to the surface for a brief moment, and looked back down the current had moved you along and the scenery below had changed.
In the evening we had a very good sunset and full rainbow which we enjoyed before our steak dinner.
Where's the pot of gold?
The next and final morning we headed to another snorkel location, this area had had a lot of damage in a typhoon a couple of years ago, the area however has very high water quality, and the coral is starting to grow back and the fish life never left, while we were in the water the fish were being fed from the Dingy, our view was completely taken up with brightly coloured fish in front of our masks. Having got the hand the snorkeling towards the end of the session I returned my pool noodle to the dingy, this allowed much easier and graceful movement in the water. Leaving the feeding fish behind, we were able to get abetter look at the coral regrowth. This was spectacular as the desert like ground was broken up with sections of vibrant colour and vivid coloured fish of all sizes. At the end of the session we returned to the boat for our journey back to port and a cream tea.
Our tour of the Whitsundays
We then returned to the campsite, set up the tent and canopy for shade and tried not to cook in 27°C heat (and they call this winter?).
Till next time
David & Joanna
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Day 242 - Safari day 4 (Hot air balloon and hippos)
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Day 241 - Safari day 3 - Drive to Serengetti
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Day 198-199 - To Townsville
June 24, 2019
Days 195-197 - The Whitsundays & Great Barrier Reef