After finishing Fraser Island on the 27th May, I had a week to recover and make my way 620 miles North to Airlie beach for my Whitsunday Islands boat trip.
I first got a lift 2.5 hours to Hervey Bay from a family friend (this was completely out their way, but I guess to aussies this is just popping up the road!) followed by a 4 hour bus to Agnes Water where I spent a couple of nights chilling.
There isn’t much to do in Agnes Water but it’s a popular stop off point to split up the journey. It’s also the last place you can surf before the Great Barrier Reef, but because of this, catching a good surf there can be difficult. I opted to not risk wasting my money. Instead I hired a bike with 3 lads from my hostel and went exploring, cycling 16 miles throughout the day! Being the 2nd time I have rode a bike since I was a kid on stabilisers, I have no idea how I survived the day. Most importantly, we got to feed kangaroos!
I then got a 10 hour overnight bus to Airlie beach, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but still wasn’t great. We got woken up twice in the night for 30/40 min breaks before arriving at 7:30am. I didn’t sleep till gone 1am, so hiking with all my bags 20 minutes up the road on hardly any sleep was the WORST. Tip: don’t stay at nomads because they won’t let you check in till 2pm. Stay at backpackers by the bay, they’ll let you check straight in and they’re much closer to the bus stop.
The Whitsunday islands are 74 islands off the east coast of Australia and there are a plethora of boats that regularly cruise through them. You can purchase a 1 day trip, 2 day 1 night or 2 day 2 night, setting you back 150-465$ (89-275 gbp). I was on the 2d/2n Tongarra boat at the top end of 450$(267 gbp).
Crewed by Chris and Braeden, The boat was at max capacity of 24 passengers. We set off sail on the 3rd of June 3pm, cruising through till around 7pm where we anchored up for the night just next to Whitehaven beach. Most people had been drinking all day and continued to do so throughout the night, with music playing loudly till gone midnight. With only enough room to seat 8 people inside and the sun setting by 6pm, this made for a long and cold night. I just wanted to get wrapped up and go to sleep!
The cool thing about the tongarra that I liked was we got to sleep outside the boat! When it got to about 11pm, Chris and Braeden essentially made the boat in to a massive tent and provided us all with sleeping mats, blankets and pillows.
Up at 7am we hopped off the boat and on to Whitehaven beach. The picture perfect beach I have seen across my Facebook feed many a time. Braeden came with us, taking us on a walk to a lookout and then through certain parts of the water that were more shallow, looking for stingrays! And we found a couple! Never did I think I’d be splashing around with my go pro following a stingray.
Back on the boat, we set off sail to find a snorkelling spot. Geared up and taken up close to the Reef in the small speedboat, Chris said ‘after 3 you’re all going to fall backwards off the edge of the boat’ sorry since when are we pro divers in a film? A few squeals and splashes later, I was surrounded by hundreds of fish and coral and it was amazing ! I couldn’t believe it! I swam around in awe for an hour, trying to find as much as I could. I felt like I was in finding nemo, what you see in the film was what I could see in front of me (sadly minus turtles and whales though).
Back on the boat we sailed somewhere to anchor up for the night, before an even longer night of loud music and loud drunk people. It went on till nearly 3am when we had to be up at 7. It’s just a shame because for me it ruined it a bit. If I wanted to drink till 3am, I wouldn’t be shouting and screaming like a few of them were and I wouldn’t expect music to still be booming. Maybe I would have enjoyed the evenings more if I had drunk but getting drunk on a boat in the dark just didn’t appeal to me at all. I’m clumsy at the best of times!
Last morning, we had a ‘surprise’… a banana boat! Or the Aussie equivalent, the ‘red shark’. Always resssuring… considering it was 8am I wasn’t too sure if I fancied getting dunked, but I did it anyway and it was great fun. Go pro footage still to come!
The food on the boat was excellent. Good cereal and fruit for breakfast, wraps and rolls with salad for lunch, and then fish veg and mash one night and spag bowl the next. And we didn’t have to lift a finger! There was also cakes, biscuits, crisps and fruit whenever we wanted. A backpackers dream!
Overall I enjoyed the time during the day but not the evenings at all. Personally I don’t think you need a 2 day 2 night trip as all we essentially did was go to Whitehaven beach and snorkel. I do think it was overpriced for what it was. If I had my time again, I would just do a day trip or 1 night and I would have saved a lot of money and still seen the same things.
It was amazing views though. Thank you Whitsundays!