After spending two weeks in three big cities, it was time to experience another side of Australia. I headed to the Whitsunday Islands, where I stayed and partied in Airlie Beach, sailed around the beautiful islands and snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef.
I flew into Hamilton Island and caught a rather expensive ferry to Airlie Beach (50 AUD for 45 minutes of sailing). It was a beautiful ride though and I even got to see Daydream Island, as the ferry stopped by there before reaching Airlie Beach.
In Airlie Beach, I had booked a dormitory room at the Magnums Backpackers hostel, which is situated in the center of the city. I had originally planned on Couchsurfing there as well, but since my friends Katrine and Annemie had changed their plans and were coming to Airlie Beach a few days after I arrived, I decided to book a hostel with them. I like Couchsurfing, but since Airlie Beach is a party town, I felt like I needed to experience the hostel life there anyways.
The first evening was spent being lazy in the hostel, getting to know the town and packing for the next two days for an adventure on the sea: A 2 day 1 night trip on a ship to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.
The company that I went with on the sailing trip is called Freight Train Whitsundays. All the companies that do trips from Airlie Beach are ridiculously expensive, but I found a cheap-ish deal on bookme.com with Freight Train. For 275 AUD, I got two days packed with activities and fun times on a ship with the loveliest crew ever and some great new friends.
During our two days, we went snorkelling in four different reefs and in the morning of the second day, we spent three hours on Whitehaven Beach, which must be the most beautiful beach on Earth. During the night, we partied and had a lot of fun!
Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef was something that I had been looking forward to for a long time. We were given snorkel gear and stinger suits to protect us from the dangerous jellyfish and I was even given a private swimming lesson before going snorkelling, as I – even though I live next to the beach – have never learned how to swim.
We snorkelled at Caves Cove, Langford Sandspit, Black Island and Ravens Cove. Langford Sandspit near Hayman Island was my favourite place to snorkel; the coral was so colourful and there were so many fish and even sea turtles. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any sea turtles, but many of the others from the ship saw quite a few. Those who didn’t want to snorkel, had the chance to hang out at the beautiful sandspit instead, but I took advantage of all the chances to snorkel!
Because snorkelling is like entering another world. A mysterious underwater world with so much to discover. I loved swimming with the colourful fish and looking at all the beautiful corals. One thing that I didn’t love though, was when one of the dangerous jellyfish swam RIGHT BESIDE ME!! I was SO scared and due to my lack of swimming skills, I couldn’t get away very fast, but thankfully, I managed to not get stung. All I could think about were my bare feet – why were they bare!?? It could’ve gone so wrong, but it didn’t – and I didn’t let it ruin my experience of the beautiful underwater world.
At 6 AM on the second day, we arrived in Whitehaven Beach, a stunning 7 km. long beach with crystal clear waters and pristine silica sand on Whitsunday Island, the biggest island in the Whitsundays. The sand consists of 98 % silica, which gives the beach a bright white colour that can even be seen in the dark. Our ship anchored at Esk Island the night before and from there, we were able to see the bright sands of Whitehaven Beach light up.
The silica doesn’t retain heat, so it’s completely comfortable to walk barefoot on the sand, even on the hottest days. Because of how fine the sand is, it can also damage electronic devices, so we were told not to bring our phones and cameras. I did bring my camera though, but I put it in a plastic bag to protect it.
Unfortunately, I was very tired after partying all night, so I didn’t take much advantage of the beach and instead fell asleep on the sand. One thing I did do though, was to cover myself (and my hair) in the sand that is said to be great for the skin, hair and nails – oh, and the teeth; I rubbed it on my teeth too and they actually did look more white afterwards.
I had a great experience with Freight Train and I was very happy that I chose to go with them. The staff was lovely and the vegetarian food that the chef Mary made was stellar! I would recommend Freight Train to anyone who’s up for a good time with a lot of snorkelling and partying!
We arrived back at 4 PM and when I got back to the hostel, Katrine and Annemie had arrived. It was so good to see them again!
In the evening, there was an afterparty for those of us who went on the Freight Train trip. I invited Katrine along and we had such a fun time! As I previously mentioned, Airlie Beach is a party town and basically just exists for the tourists that use it as a gateway to the Whitsundays. And the town does well as a party town, the nightlife there is amazing!
The next two days were spent in Airlie Beach, the first with Katrine, while Annemie went on a boat trip and the next with Annemie, while Katrine went on a 2 day 1 night boat trip. We hung out at the lagoon, went for walks in the town, went to see the sunset, had long talks about life and our future travel plans (my favourite conversation ever, dreaming is what I do best!) and enjoyed each others company. While Katrine and I were going for a walk in the town, we met my brother’s friend Kris, who was only in Airlie Beach for one day! It was so coincidental! Katrine heard Kris and his friend speaking Danish and shouted “hey, dansk!” and when they turned around, we recognized each other. Otherwise, we would’ve just walked past each other. I never in a million years thought that I would meet someone from my small hometown in Australia, but apparently, the World is a small place.
That was the last time I saw Katrine and Annemie in Australia this time around, but I’m so grateful for all the time we spent together in three different places in the country (Melbourne, Adelaide and Airlie Beach), especially seeing as it was by coincidence every time!
Being in Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands was like being on a holiday in the middle of my travels; it was a much needed break from the concrete jungles and it was nice to just relax and not do much for a few days.