Ariel view of Whitehaven Beach,Whitsunday Islands. Picture: Istock
Ariel view of Whitehaven Beach,Whitsunday Islands. Picture: Istock

Whitsundays by boat will not disappoint

TURQUOISE water, golden sand, swaying palms and sipping cocktails poolside conjure pictures of paradise, usually an expensive one.

Yet the tropical delights of North Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands need not break the bank, or cost anymore than any other day trip with the family.

Sure, you need to get close enough first, but if you base yourself in Airlie Beach the price of accommodation will be much cheaper than on the islands, unless you snag a ripper deal.

And the short boatride is better than any drive of the same distance.

We were up early to make the most of a day on the islands, with plans to sip champagne on Whitehaven Beach for breakfast. Yet laziness prepping food meant we headed straight to Hamilton Island to gorge on someone else’s cooking.

We were lucky enough to be on a friend’s 5.5 metre boat to make the journey.

That is by no means a big boat, but it’s big enough that on a calm day with little wind you can cruise straight across without a bump or a worry.

Arriving at the Hamilton Island Marina a little before it opened at 8am allowed us time to putt around the whole island and scope out where we wanted to explore.

Once moored at the marina, which only costs $15 an hour and allows you access to resort restaurants and pools, we set about finding the best view for breakfast.

We tripped up the small hill to the other side of the island and chose Sails Restaurant.

And while COVID-19 has ensured buffets are a thing of the past, you need not worry about going hungry.

In lieu of said buffet, we were able to order from the a la carte menu to our heart’s content, or rather our stomach’s distend.

After too much good food and soaking up as much of the view as we could, we rolled into the resort pool to relax with a cocktail in hand and not a care in the world.

A spot of shopping in the up-market tourist shops and a wander around the island and we felt like we could move on to continue exploring the Whitsundays.

However had we stayed any longer on Hamilton I would have hired a golf buggy to get around like a true tourist.

We cruised out of the marina to Whitehaven Beach, a mere 30 minute boat ride in calm weather with spectacular vision of surrounding islands on the way.

As a first timer to Whitehaven, I had high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.

The water truly is a sparkling turquoise like no other and the sand as pure white as beaches come.

Yes, there are many others there, but by no means crowded and the beach is long with room for everyone.

It’s here we pop a champagne to celebrate one of nature’s true beauties before delving into the beautiful water to cool off.

There's not much else to do on Whitehaven than relax and swim, the perfect recipe on a holiday.

With the sun kicking in and the wind picking up, we decide it’s best to start heading back to ensure a smooth ride home, but first - fishing.

We travel about 10 minutes towards Airlie to find a nice fishing hole, or so we’re told.

The kids are catching ????? and the adults are looking rather ordinary until we pull in a few sharks. Yes, sharks.

We were unable to identify whether they were edible and for fear of losing a few toes, we cut the line on the two-metre fish and unhooked the smaller 60cm ones.

By now the wind is telling us it’s time to get a move on or we’ll have one hell of a ride home so we get moving to make the trip home.

And just like that we’ve spent the day touring the islands with no more cost than most day trips yet we feel like we’ve lived like the rich and famous.

GETTING THERE:

Leaving from the Sunshine Coast we chose to break the trip into two days. We stayed overnight in Rockhampton, a little over half way, to make the second day easier when everyone’s a little over sitting in the car.

Then it’s about five hours to Airlie with an easy stop in Mackay for lunch.

You can also fly direct to Proserpine from Brisbane.

ACCOMMODATION:

Options are endless in Airlie depending on your budget. If you’d rather stay on the islands here are some websites to check out deals.

www.whitsundays.com.au

www.hamiltonisland.com.au

BOAT HIRE:

If you’re not lucky enough to have a friend with a boat in the area, it’s easy to hire a boat, all you need is one of you to have your boat licence. Or if you’d rather someone else take charge of the journey there are hop on hop off ferries that visit a few of the islands leaving from Shute Harbour.

www.airlieboathire.com.au

www.directferries.com.au


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