Airlie Beach & The Whitsundays
After Magnetic Island we spent a night in Townsville (which isn’t worth a mention) to prepare for the relatively short journey down to Airlie Beach, where we would be catching our Yacht to sail around the Whitsunday Islands.
Airlie Beach reminded me instantly of a European party destination. It feels a resort and has a main strip loaded with bars and clubs that are open everyday of the week till late!
We stayed in Base hostel, which is one of the main hostels in Airlie Beach. The rooms were really nice, spacious with comfortable beds and even some kitchen facilities.
The main reason we were in Airlie Beach though, despite the party vibe, which we did take advantage of, was to sail around the stunningly beautiful Whitsunday Islands.
There are a million and one different boats to choose from, all of which sail around the Whitsundays and originally we were booked onto the Tongarra, a popular boat with partygoers. Unfortunately OzIntro, whom we booked the trip through, managed to royally cock up and as a result we were ‘upgraded’ onto a Yacht called “The Boomerang.”
The Boomerang was built in Italy to compete in the worlds most recognised races and achieved great success including 1st place in the World Maxi Series Race. It’s now dedicated to taking passengers around the Whitsunday Islands and is marketed at a young crowd between 20-35 years old. All food was provided but you could bring your own snacks if you wanted and alcohol was BYO.
The trip didn’t depart till mid-afternoon and the majority of the first day was spent sailing to our first overnight destination. The cool thing about the Boomerang was that you got to help erect the sails and feel part of the sailing experience.
Lounging around on the deck of a racing yacht with the sun beating down on you whilst you listen to music blaring out from the on-board speakers with a drink in your hand is honestly one of the best ways to spend an afternoon that I’ve ever experienced!
At our first overnight destination, once the boat was anchored, we were allowed to dive off the boat into the water whilst the sun set in the background, before we set down for our first evening meal of Thai Green curry, which was amazing.
The first night, most of our group stayed up and mingled over drinks but we didn’t go too crazy as we had a really early start in the morning to head over to the breathtaking Whitehaven Beach.
This was probably the only part of the trip that was a bit disappointing. We spent far too long at our first location and were all pretty bored by the time the boat came to pick us up and we also had to ask the captain to take us to the famous lookout over Whitehaven as we weren’t originally planning on going there.
Thank goodness we did though as the view from that lookout was stunning, just look at the below picture!
After lunch we went to a spot where we could go snorkelling. It was here that I saw possibly the craziest creature to date, a huge puffer fish that was intrigued enough by my underwater camera to pose for the video I was taking.
I’d been snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef off of Cairns but in my opinion the snorkelling on the Whitsundays is far better!
Later that night, after dinner we had a bit of a party on the deck under the stars. The music was loud, drinks were flowing and our deck hand Jack built a drinking contraption out of a snorkel & mask, known fondly as a snorkel bong.
That night turned out to be one of my favourite nights of our East Coast trip…!
In the morning, bleary eyed and a bit worse for wear, we were woken up early to go snorkelling again at another spot where turtles are known to be seen. I wasn’t really feeling it but the lure of seeing a turtle overpowered my need for sleep.
It wasn’t until we were due to return to the boat that I saw it. A majestic turtle rising up from the coral below, before swimming off into the distance, me following closly behind. It was a truly amazing sight!
The Whitsundays have been one of my favourite ever trips to date and it’s easy to see why it’s so high up on the backpackers itinerary for the East Coast of Australia.
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