I’ve just returned from 3 magical days spent in the Whitsunday Islands in tropical North Queensland, Australia. I have finally overcome my post holiday blues enough to write this blog post it was such an awesome holiday.
The Whitsundays is one part of Australia that I have been dying to see ever since I was little and as it was my birthday recently I decided that I wanted to go to the Whitsundays so 3 week later I was there. The Whitsundays are made up of 74 Islands, on the beautiful tropical coast of Queensland, Australia and right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.
After landing at Proserpine Airport which is literally in the middle of the bush, we jumped on the bus for a scenic ride through the country to Airlie Beach which is a beautiful coastal town that is popular for backpackers as its cheaper than staying on the islands and is the gateway to the barrier reef and the Whitsundays. We got dropped off at the marina and jumped on the Cruise Whitsundays boat to be taken over to Hamilton Island. First glimpses of the water I was instantly in love. If you don’t know me by now my favourite colour is aqua blue and thats exactly the colour of the water in the Whitsundays.
Once we arrived at the Hamilton Island marina and closed our mouths after seeing all the amazingly massive boats that were there we got our luggage and caught the bus up the hill to The Reef View Hotel which we were staying at for the next 3 nights. We booked an ocean view room which I am so glad about because the views were spectacular.
I could have stayed here all day and watched the sail boats and people swimming and snorkelling but I had tours to book. As usual I didn’t plan or book anything beforehand so we headed down to reception and a girl called Laura at the tours desk was so good with helping us book everything and recommended packages to include everything that was on my list. Tip: its a good idea to book tours in advance, we were extremely lucky to get on a lot of the tours.
On the way to the hotel we noticed that everyone drives around the island in golf buggies. You don’t really need to hire a buggy because you can walk everywhere on the island and there is also a free shuttle bus that can take you all over the island but they just looked like so much fun that I had to hire one for a day. Check out the video at the end for some crazy golf buggy escapades.
After exploring the entire island on the golf buggy it was time for sunset. There is a spot on the island called One Tree Hill that everyone goes to for sunset as you get 180 degree views over theislands. There is a bar that serves cocktails, beer and nibblies to go with your sunset viewing which is pretty cool! Tip: Get there early because it gets really busy up there at sunset.
The next day we headed back down to the marina to jump on the boat for a half day cruise to Whitehaven Beach. The boat ride took about 1 hour and sailed through the Whitsundays passage so we got to check out some other islands. Approaching Whitehaven Beach I knew exactly why this is the best beach in Australia. It is absolutely stunning with its pure white sand and crystal clear water.
We had two hours to swim and relax before the boat came back to pick us up. Considering it was the second last day of winter the water temperature was bearable for a swim. It was pretty refreshing but how could you not go for a swim in this amazingly clear water. I will be writing a separate blog about Whitehaven beach so stay tuned for that!
After soaking up the amazing beauty of this special place it was time to jump back on the boat and head back to Hamilton Island. We were pretty hungry after all the swimming so we grabbed lunch back at the pool restaurant at The Reef View Hotel. Not being one to sit still after lunch we headed up the mountain behind the resort that overlooks Catseye Beach for a 40 minute hike to Resort Lookout. From this point you could basically get 360 degree views over Hamilton Island, which I decided was going to be the spot for sunrise then next day.
After the sun had risen we hiked back down to the resort and had some breakfast before packing a bag and heading off to the airport for our helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef. This was THE one thing that I wanted to see while we were exploring the Whitsundays and even though it cost a small fortune it was so worth the experience. We ended up booking the flight/snorkelling package which gave us a helicopter flight over the reef, a couple of hours snorkelling amongst the coral and fish at the great barrier reef plus lunch and the boat ride back to Hamilton Island.
We were so fortunate to be the only two in the chopper along with our pilot Cameron so it was basically like a private tour of the reef and if I can recommend anything while you are visiting the Whitsundays then this is a must. We flew out over Whitehaven Beach which looks even more stunning from the air:
Then we flew passed Hill Inlet. Tip: if you are going to do a flight over the reef make sure that you are going at high tide so that there is water covering the sand. Hill Inlet in the Whitsundays is a stunning inlet located at the northern end of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. As the tide shifts, the white sand and blue hues of the inlet blend seamlessly to create a breathtaking mosaic.
After taking in the breathtaking views of Hill Inlet we flew over a gigantic whale that was breaching surrounded by a pod of dolphins. Unfortunately we were to high up to be able to get clear enough shots but it was beautiful to watch. We flew for about 10 more minutes before reaching the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef and then we saw the famous Heart Reef which is a love heart shaped coral reef in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.
Then we flew over Hardy Reef (the most photographed reef of the Great Barrier Reef), Hook Reef, the river and Bait Reef before landing at Reef World.
As it was the last day of Winter the water was a tiny bit chilly so we donned the gorgeous onsie wetsuits, grabbed some snorkelling gear and jumped into the water for some Nemo spotting. Unfortunately Nemo was no where to be found but we did see some beautifully colourful parrot fish, some cute little neon blue fish, a big groper and some pretty cool coral.
After snorkelling and swimming against a pretty strong current I was starving and it was time for lunch which was a cold salad and seafood buffet. I was also pretty cold so I was glad to sit in the sun and warm up again. After lunch we did the glass bottom submarine tour which is a boat that has glass panelling along the sides of the bottom of the boat and you are enclosed underwater as you are driven along the edge of the reef so that you can get a close up look at the coral and reef fish. There is also an underwater viewing room aboard reef world that you can go and sit in and watch the fish swimming passed. Then it was time to get back on the boat and head back to Hamilton Island which took about 2 hours as there was a bit of a swell happening.
Once we got back to Hamilton Island we stayed down at the marina to photograph another island sunset then it was off to have pizza for dinner from Manta Ray Cafe which is an extremely popular choice for dinner so get there early!
The next morning it was time to leave but not without seeing one more sunrise. This time from the balcony of the room which was nice to just roll out of bed and watch the sky turn all shades of pastel. Then it was down to the marina to catch the boat back to the mainland, a bus to the airport and the flight back to Brisbane.
Here is a little montage video of our escapades while exploring the Whitsundays.
I have been seriously depressed since I got home from this trip and that doesn’t happen very often to me so I know that this was one of those special holidays that I will never forget. I really wished that we had a few more days to enjoy this place and I can honestly say that I cannot wait to go back. I don’t know why I waited so long to go there in the first place but its has definitely stolen a piece of my heart.
Have you explored the Whitsundays in Queensland before? What was your experience like? I would love to know so leave a comment below! 🙂