The 10 hour overnight bus journey from Cairns to Airlie Beach was actually much less painful than I expected it to be – I must have been completely knackered as I slept the entire time! The first thing that hit me about Airlie Beach was the weather; it was around 35 degrees and absolutely boiling! Much hotter than the already roasting weather in Cairns. I grabbed a tuktuk ride to my hostel, Nomads, from the most hilarious driver. Not only did he point out all the Airlie Beach landmarks, he also introduced me to every local on the way. On arriving at the hostel I think I knew the whole town already!
It was too early for me to check into the hostel but I dumped my stuff and had a wander into the town. Airlie Beach is a pretty small place with one main street which borders the beach. There’s tons of touristy beach shops, cafes and bars – it’s a really cool little place.
In a similar vain to Cairns, you can’t swim in the sea in Airlie Beach due to jelly fish and sharks. According to my tuktuk driver there’s a 10ft tiger shark residing over the coast line at the moment – there was no way I was going in! I spent the rest of the day chilling out on the beach and topping up my sun tan – it was so nice and relaxed.
Once the sun had started to go down I made my way across to the hostel to check in. The hostel was pretty nice with a huge swimming pool in the middle and little bungalows bordering it.
I met the people in my room (two French girls, two German girls and an English guy and girl) and got my bags packed for the start of my three day sailing trip the next day. I ended up having a very tame evening and after grabbing some dinner tucked down for an early night. I did have a quick FaceTime with Rose and Brea in New Zealand which was so nice – it’s crazy how much I’ve been missing my Kiwi travel buddies.
The next morning I checked out of my hostel and had a wander into town. I treated myself to brunch and a ton of coffee before going back out and relaxing at the beach. It was a bit overcast today but still really hot!
At around 1pm I walked down the boardwalk towards Abell Point Marina where I would be meeting the rest of the people on my boat and beginning a three day sailing tour of the Whitsunday Islands.
The Whitsundays are a group of 74 Island Wonders, located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, on the tropical coast of Queensland. If you’re in this area of Australia a boat trip to see these beautiful islands is a must!
We all checked in and made our way down to the boat – the New Horizon.
After packing the iceboxes full of our alcohol we sat out on deck and all got chatting. There was 24 of us on board along with 5 crew members. After an hour or so of sailing we moored up at Blue Pearl Bay and headed out for a dive and snorkel whilst the sunset. The water was pretty cloudy but very cool none the less.
The evening ended at about 1am after lots of fun up on deck! My sleep however was AWFUL. I don’t think I’ve ever slept so badly – the cabin was like a sauna! It’s cosy look was more than deceptive….
The next morning we were woken up bright and early at 6.30am and ate breakfast out on the deck listening to Ben Howard and watching the sun rise – it was so pretty (even after only an hour or so of sleep!)
After a quick swim and sunbathe, we had a couple of hours sailing to go to our destination for the day. At 9.30 we made the, erm, sensible decision to crack open the goon and give the party an early start!
We sailed for quite a while until lunchtime where we ate out on the deck again. Soon the boat was anchored and we all boarded the speedboat across to the shore of the namesake; Whitsunday Island, the main island in the Whitsundays National Park.
Once we were all on dry land we hiked up across the island and over to the famous Whitehaven Beach.
The beach is completely stunning and full of cool wildlife – we saw stingrays, lemon sharks and the very cute bright blue grape crab.
We stayed out on the beach for a couple of hours, sunbathed, continued with the goon and had lots of chat – I was lucky to have a great group on the boat and we all got on really well.
All sunbathed out, we dusted the sand off our feet and hiked up towards the lookout point. It’s up here that you really appreciate the beauty of Whitehaven Beach. The bright blue waters with twisted white silica sands is a really impressive sight. We stayed up at the lookout for a little while before heading back down to the beach and hitching a ride on the speedboat back to the boat.
Once back on board we sat out again on the deck, ate biscuits, crisps and drank goon until dinner time. Our cook Braden made us a delicious spaghetti bolognese which was such a home comfort!
The second night on the boat was very similar to the first and consisted of many drinks, lots of music, games and chats out on deck. We sat out with Braden and another crew member, Joe, and had a great time until the small hours. That night I slept like an absolute log – phew!
The next morning was another 6.30am for breakfast out on the deck however the weather was absolutely awful. It pretty much rained the entire day and when I say it rained – I mean it poured! Te crew did put out a huge slide and pulled out the paddle boards and a few people did brave the elements to hit the waters but most people stayed in the shelter of the boat with a warm cup of tea!
It was a bit of a shame actually that the weather was so bad as the boat wasn’t really big enough inside to house everyone. It meant that most people made their way back into the cabins and slept for a large part of the morning until we made our way back to Airlie Beach. Everyone did surface however when the Braden announced that there were hotdogs in the galley!
When we arrived back at the marina we all hugged the crew goodbye and headed off for a well deserved coffee! We were all absolutely exhausted!!
I ended up spending the afternoon with Aoife and Roisin – a couple of the Irish girls I got friendly with on the boat so we chilled out at the hostel for a while. I was boarding my second greyhound bus that evening; this time a 15 hour (!) bus down to Rainbow Beach. The bus wasn’t until 6pm so I had some time to kill which is always the worst!
A little while later we met up with Beth and Ella, a couple of the English girls from the boat, and we all grabbed dinner and a couple of drinks at a nearby pub.
Before I knew it it was time for me to head to the bus station and board the Greyhound bus – next stop Rainbow Beach and a three day camping excursion to Fraser Island!