Sailing and diving the Whitsunday Islands

November 14th – November 24th 2012

I have just returned from an incredible experience sailing the Whitsundays. Mark S invited myself, Nick K and our other friend Gareth B along to their annual sailing trip, skippered by Ian M. who had been doing these trips for some twenty years.

We hired a Catamaran yacht from Cumberland yacht Charters in Airlie Beach after Nick K, G and I had done a fifteen hour road trip up from Brisbane and departed on the 14th November to visit some of the most spectacular places I have ever seen.

Some of these islands included the majestic Whitehaven Beach, Hayman and Hamilton Islands, South Mole, Hook Island, Stonehaven, Pinnacle Bay, Manta Ray Bay, Maureen’s Cove, Blue Pearl Bay, and the beautiful Daydream Island.

The trip itself was a bargain priced each around a thousand dollars including meals cooked daily by one of the organisers it worked out to less than a hundred dollars a day each plus drinks. There were eight of us in total.

Sailing the Whitsundays is the only way to see the islands. It is truly breathtaking being out there with schools of tuna feeding in front of the boat, bright blue Flying fish, watching Sharks feed at dawn thrashing in the the water by the boat, seeing the sunset glaze over the ripples of water and fade into the horizon, staring up at millions of stars through our cabin hatches; watching shooting stars dance across the blackest of skies whilst we rocked gently off to sleep.

It was a slice of heaven, with us being the only people sometimes to be moored at the islands I felt a huge sense of relief that these islands had at least been untouched to a certain degree and not yet ruined by humans. I never thought about work, nor life back at home, but simply enjoyed where I was.

The best diving was at Manta Ray Bay where Mark S, Nick K and I found and fed Bob the famous resident giant Maori Wrasse by hand, it was the highlight of the trip for me. Pinnacle Bay was also good diving with some nice swim throughs and rock formations.

The diving in general averaged between three metres and ten and some of the best marine life we saw was actually done from snorkelling and free diving not scuba. As I have dived the Great Barrier Reef before I definitely recommend visiting the outer reefs if you are doing this trip.

The outer reefs are much better dive sites. Most of the dives that we did were very much the same, same marine life and Coral, and the majority of Coral at these sites had had a thrashing from the cyclones and was dead and grey. We did snorkel over a Black tip reef Shark whilst following a Green turtle. And despite one account of diving into a swarm of Jellyfish none of us were stung during the trip.

Another favourite of mine was Daydream Island which was romantic and serene. Food and drinks were priced reasonably, and I enjoyed a few fifteen cocktails in the pool overlooking the ocean.

Hamilton Island was your typical expensive tourist destination meets rich residents kinda place, docking next to multi million dollar yachts and boats in the harbour.

If you don’t mind paying ten dollars for a smoothie or rubbing shoulders with millionaires, than it may be worth putting this on your list…the lookout is lovely but aside from that I couldn’t have spend too much time here as I’d get bored.

The other destination that is a definite must is Whitehaven which is a serene white sanded crystal turquoise water Island that you can spend days snorkelling, diving, sunbathing, doing beach and bush walks, visiting the lookout or the Sharks and Rays in the shallow rivers.

I had an amazing holiday and so thankful to Mark S for the invite and opportunity to do it. When I am stressed out at work I will just close my eyes and remember the beautiful waters and Islands of the Whitsundays.

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