I have been to some beautiful beaches in my time but today’s must be the most beautiful. Whitsunday Beach is rated as Australia’s best beach and Australia has some of the best beaches in the world so I knew it would be good but it was even better than I expected.
We are staying in Airlie Beach. We arrived on Saturday evening after a long drive from Port Douglas. We spent Sunday recuperating from the travel by relaxing at Airlie Beach’s Lagoon which comprises 4 different pools of varying sizes and depths. This is the biggest one.
This lovely lagoon is next to the harbour so it is all very scenic. The lagoon has 2 life guards. Astonishingly this lagoon is completely free! I like Airlie Beach. It is more laid back and easy going then Port Douglas which is quite a smart resort. Airlie is much larger and younger as it caters to a large backpacking crowd. I prefer Port Douglas but have really enjoyed Airlie. It was particularly lively as unknown to us when we arrived, the Reef Festival was on.
We were collected from our hotel and taken to the marina where we boarded a 15m fibre glass mono hull (for those of you who know anything about boats – I don’t, I just copied it from the website) called the Whitehaven Xpress . Off we went.We all enjoyed today very much. The Whitehaven Xpress is a bit of a bloke’s boat and not as luxurious as the cruises we did from Port Douglas. The boat is old and a bit tatty, it could have been cleaner, the carpet could be newer etc. However, the crew could not have been friendlier or more helpful and they provided a superb commentary on the Whitsundays as we cruised around.
For example, these pine trees are some of the very oldest plants on the planet. The Whitsundays were named by Captain Cook who thought he was travelling through the islands on Whitsun but he actually got the dates wrong but the name stuck anyway.
Our first stop was Tongue Bay where we hiked up 650m to the Hill Inlet lookout point. Some more well presented information. it is indeed a beautiful place. Just look at the amazing colours of that sea! The sand on Whitsunday Island is made up of 98% pure white silica sand. The water is mainly shallow but where it is deeper, the hue of the water changes. The water is so clear you can see the bottom which is just sand; no corals, pebbles, shells or other such marine objects which makes it a complete pleasure to walk about in. I have not Photo Shopped any of these, I promise. There is no need to as this is the exact colour of the water. Could the sea look any more incredible than this? After our bush walk to the lookout and back to the beach, we boarded our boat again and drove round Whitsunday Island to Whitehaven Beach. We were ferried across in a small dinghy which sat 12 – 15 of us at a time.Whitehaven Xpress had about 50 of us on board which is capacity. It was rather lovely, after the much larger Quicksilver cruises to be with a smaller group. There were lots of Aussies, a few Brits/POMs, some Europeans and Chinese sailing today so a multi-cultural boat which added to the day’s interest. It was friendly and sociable.
This is the best sand I have ever sunk my little tootsies in to. The best, the best, the very very best.7 km of soft silica sand. There is a powdery part at the top of the beach which is like walking in talcum powder. Incredibly sensuous. Most of the sand has been packed firm and is damp so sticks together thanks to the tidal activity of the sea. This makes it perfect for walking along as you sink in to it but only very slightly. There is nothing hard or sharp to step in.
If I could still do cartwheels I would probably have cartwheeled along here for joy. My children can be relieved I lost that ability many years ago.
I did however have to walk around a lot to make footprints in the pristine sand as it was too perfect and too pleasurable not to 🙂 We swam too. The water is definitely colder here than further North but still delightful.The water was so clear! The grains of sand are so very fine, that when you grab a handful and put it in the water, it just looks cloudy. The individual grains of sand are so small you can’t detect them. It creates an almost spongy surface to walk on. I LOVE LOVE LOVED it.
Harvey and I walked to the end of the beach. There is vegetation and rocks down to the sand. No buildings at all and you are not allowed to stay here so it remains pristine. I wish I was back there right now.
John worked as a chef for 13 years so unsurprisingly he cooked up a good lunch of steak, chilli burgers and sausages. Well, so my family told me. My steak and burger were snatched from my plate by seagulls as I walked to the seating area !!!! My family did donate some of their food which we had with salad, rice and then tropical fresh fruits. Plus a couple of very chilled beers. Cheers. One of our neighbours for the day, a wealthy businessman from Melbourne using his Gin Palace which he keeps up here as it is so gorgeous. We had about 2 and a half hours on the beach before it was time to head back to the boat. Captain Dan and John winching up the dinghy. The day was not yet over as we sailed in to Mantaray Bay for some snorkelling. We had been told the Outer Reef was best for snorkelling as it is more alive so more colourful. So I had no expectations for today and didn’t bother to take my little camera which fits in to the underwater case. What a mistake that was! The coral here was stunning; bright blues, pinks, purples and yellows and in an incredible variety of shapes and sizes. The fish were good plus we swam with 3 different turtles. As if that was not enough, when we boarded the boat, there were 2 Maori Wasse swimming beside it. They are enourmous and very ugly but quite a sight to behold.We also saw, in the Whitsunday passage, 2 Humpback whales. Another fact from the day; Humpback Whales migrate to these waters from Antarctica to give birth. The Mother stays with the calf in these warmer waters for many weeks while it consumes an incredible 500 litres of milk a day. Despite all that milk production, the Mother does not eat anything until returning to the Antarctic.
Thank you Dan, John and Matty for an incredible day out on the Whitehaven Xpress.