WHEN I waddled into Lovers Cove at Daydream Island in the Whitsundays it was like stepping into another world.
I kitted up with a full wetsuit, goggles and snorkel, and walked down the coral beach into the calm blue waters.
When I submerged my head I was greeted by an amazing sight - thousands of tropical fish were swimming among the fringing coral reef.
I spent hours exploring the variety of coral and chasing schools of fish.
Snorkelling wasn't the only fun activity on offer at Daydream Island.
The Daydream Island Resort and Spa is home to the Living Reef - one of the most unique and unforgettable experiences.
The free-form coral lagoon courses through the resort and is home to more than 140 species of marine fish, 82 species of coral and a range of invertebrate species including Bruce the lemon shark.
I got up close and personal with some of the island's most famous residents - stingrays.
The Stingray Splash experience allowed me to handfeed the playful animals as they nibbled my feet.
I also held sea stars and sea cucumbers as a marine biologist explained the intriguing idiosyncrasies of the beautiful tropical fish and invertebrates.
After a delicious lunch at the island's signature restaurant Mermaids I explored the natural beauty of the area.
I passed some rock wallabies lazing in the sun and they were tame enough to let me pat their heads.
Then I started on the Rainforest Walk, a bushwalk through the island with stunning views of the surrounding azure seas.
The mainland also has amazing bushwalks on offer.
The Whitsunday Great Walk is a 27km journey through Conway National Park, south of Shute Harbour, starting at Forestry Rd and finishing at Airlie Beach.
By far the majority of the Whitsunday islands are designated national park, leaving them uninhabited and in their purest natural state for all to enjoy - with stunning secluded bays, fringing coral reefs teeming with life, gorgeous state forest and hundreds of species of wildlife to discover.
Of the 74 islands, eight are inhabited and have resorts offering a range of accommodation types and attractions.
Visitors can stay on the Whitsunday Coast or at the island resorts. Both provide a perfect base from which to enjoy the region, and there are countless must-do experiences in the Whitsundays.
WHITSUNDAY ISLAND: The largest in the Whitsunday group, Whitsunday Island is home to world famous Whitehaven Beach. Pure white silica sand glistens along this 7km stretch of stunning beach, the jewel in the region's crown.
GREAT BARRIER REEF: The Whitsundays is the ideal hub from which to enjoy all that the reef has to offer. From diving and snorkelling, to a scenic flight, to sailing, you can enjoy the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday islands from above, below and in between.
HEART REEF: The Whitsundays is quite literally situated in the "Heart of the Great Barrier Reef". Heart Reef is a beautiful composition of coral that has naturally formed into the shape
SAILING: The Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday islands offer natural protection from the open ocean, making the waters of the Whitsundays some of the best sailing ground in the world. A sailor's paradise, there are endless secluded coves and anchorages, fringing reefs and isolated beaches to enjoy.
The writer was a guest of Tourism Whitsundays. Read more about the Whitsundays region next week.
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