- sailing the whitsundays -
Having driven just under eight hours over the course of an afternoon and evening, we got to Airlie beach where we would head over to Whitsunday Islands. Being on a relatively tight budget, all of the main attractions along the east coast would not have been possible if we didn’t occasionally take the cheaper, shorter alternatives. With both Whitsundays and Fraser Island both on our wish list, but both being expensive trips, we decided to opt for the one day sailing trip out to Whitsunday Islands rather than one of the over night options.
The full day experience around the islands on the Southern Cross as well as short trips to Hill Inlet Lookout and Whitehaven beach turned out to be the perfect choice considering the weather. A dull windy day meant that we were able to really get the full sailing experience on-board Australia’s 4th challenger for the America’s cup which was once the winner of the America’s cup challenger series in Newport Rhode Island, USA.
Once across to the islands, we were able to go on a short snorkelling trip just off Border Island, but unfortunately due to the dark, heavy cloud cover above us along with the cold temperatures it was not the best of experiences. A nice buffet lunch on-board inside the gully meant we were able to warm up again and look forward to visiting the spectacular Whitehaven beach.
Once we had made our way around the island, we entered a sheltered cove where we were protected from the strong winds and choppy waters enabling us to anchor. Being stationed out on the water in the middle of this cove, we all jumped onto the small tender which took us to shore where we began the short climb up to Hill Inlet lookout. The views from the lookout over Whitehaven beach were pretty impressive as being a vantage point we were able to see the entire length of the beach as well as the meandering river which comes from deep within the island.
As if the view was not impressive enough from the lookout, a walk along the most northern section of the Whitehaven beach was pretty amazing. Despite the dull weather, the half an hour on this pure, white powder sand was definitely way too short and we could have easily spent a couple of hours just enjoying and appreciating this magnificent spot along Australia’s east coast. As well as the impressive beach and surrounding scenery, we also got the opportunity to get up close to a number of eagle rays and young sharks in the shallower waters.
We could hear the squeeky white powder sand underneath our toes!
With it time to make our way back to Airlie beach, once back on board we put up the sails and began to sail back in the relatively strong winds. The winds in between the islands and the mainland were not as strong as the morning winds but still provided the sufficient force for an enjoyable crossing. Afternoon tea on the way back was a nice way to end what had been a thoroughly enjoyable day sailing.
Despite our initial dilemma as to whether to do the day trip or spend a couple of days around the island, we luckily made the right decision as a windy night on the choppy waters would not have been the most pleasant. The dark clouds and lack of sun throughout the entire week meant the day temperatures were not what you would want to really enjoy and make the most of the beach.
Having had an entire free day prior to the trip, it gave us the opportunity to have a look around and enjoy the nice small town of Airlie beach. With the town mainly visited by travellers visiting Whitsunday Islands, you can imagine it was mainly occupied by travel agents, and hostels with a number of restaurants and shops. Despite the general unpleasant weather, a two hour break through of the sun meant we were able to enjoy the manmade lagoon that was down by the waterfront. Having booked our trip via Explore Whitsundays Sailing Group it meant we were able to get a substantial discount (From $22 to $10) to park our car at X-Base over night and use all their facilities.