By Jade Johnston
Whitsunday Island Cruise
If you travel to the east coast of Queensland, and you most likely will, as most visitors to Australia do, then you will be, without a doubt, bombarded with advertisements for Whitsunday adventures. You will be spoiled for choice. Starting in Brisbane, and all the way up the coast to Airlie Beach you will be tempted with Whitsunday cruises. So how do you choose?
The Whitsunday islands are a group of islands in the Coral sea just off of Airlie Beach. They are famous for their tranquil waters, white sandy beaches, and fantastic snorkelling and diving. Airlie beach offers an alternative to Cairns for those wanting to experience the great barrier reef.
Which Tour To Choose?
There are many Whitsunday options. There are day trips, and multi day trips. There are trips that focus on adventure and sailing, and those that focus on diving or snorkelling. There are those that cater to families or older travellers, and those that cater for younger travellers.
The key to a successful Whitsunday island cruise, is to make sure you choose one that suits your particular needs.
I didn’t have much time in Airlie Beach, so I opted for a day trip. Also, since I am prone to seasickness, I figured that the possibility of sleeping on a boat didn’t really appeal to me. Also, with the recent rough weather, I knew without a doubt that any more than a day on the water would be too much for my poor stomach.
Camira Sailing Adventure
The Camira is a sleek and fast catamaran which caters to a younger crowd of backpackers who want to do a little bit of everything. The day trip includes a snorkelling stop, a beach stop on the famous Whitehaven beach, and an adventure sail around the Whitsunday islands.
The first thing that grabbed my attention on the Camira (other than it’s bright purple colour) were the crew. The crew were super bubbly and excited to be there. Even though the sky was grey and the wind was a bit cold, they managed to keep everyone’s spirits high. As they worked the boat, they also stopped to chat with the passengers, take photos of everyone with their own cameras, and occasionally squirt the old person with a hidden water gun.
Snorkeling in the Coral Sea
The captain decided to make snorkeling our first stop, to give the weather a chance to clear up for when we visited the bright white sands of Whitehaven beach. We stopped the boat in a protected area where we would be a little bit out of the wind, and we all suited up in stinger suits, snorkels, and flippers.
I’m always a little bit cautious snorkeling around a reef. Getting a coral cut is one of my worst fears. (Even though I have never had a coral cut before, so perhaps I have more fear than it’s worth.) I generally kept a little bit of distance between myself and the reef, but that did not make any difference in the wildlife I saw. Soon I was surrounded by brightly coloured fish. A large school was swimming around me, everywhere I turned all I saw were shiny, colourful fish. It was amazing – although a little disconcerting when they started coming up and bumping into my goggles.
When we returned from our snorkeling, lunch was already waiting. I have never been on a tour that has gone to so much effort to keep everyone so well fed. We had morning and afternoon tea, a BBQ and buffet salad lunch and most unusual – an unlimited supply of beer and wine. All that the staff of the Camira asked was that we helped ourselves at the bar, and that we did not get drunk and disorderly.
We had luck on our side as well that day. Despite starting out cold and overcast, when we did eventually get to Whitehaven beach, the sun started to burn it’s way through the clouds. Whitehaven beach is the most famous beach in the Whitesunday islands. The sands are almost pure silica, giving them a bright white colour. In fact, the sand is so pure that you can use it to polish your jewelry or give your skin an exfoliation treatment.
By the time we were back on board the Camira for our afternoon sail, it was like a whole new day. The sky was bright and blue, the sun was shining, and the temperature quickly rose.
Camira Sailing Adventure
We sailed back to Airlie beach at a leisurely pace, enjoying some drinks as we passed by the islands of the Whitsundays. As we approached closer to shore, we watched the sun set as the local yachtsmen had their Wednesday evening races. It was only one day, but it felt like two.
The Nitty Gritty
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, and your bathing suit. Although I was unlucky with having a partly overcast day, most days in the Whitsunday are bright and sunny and you were definitely need sunscreen.
- Make sure to bring your camera, the scenery is stunning!
- All food and drinks are provided on board. However, do make sure you have a breakfast before boarding.
- Cruise Whitsundays offers complimentary pick up and drop off from your accommodation to make your trip as stress free as possible.
- Cruise Whitsunday offer a variety of tours – one day, multi day, and reef adventures. Browse their tours on their website to find out which tour suits your specific needs.
My tour was provided complimentary by Cruise Whitsundays, but all opinions remain my own