Sun, sand, fish, snorkeling, diving… These are some of the main things that pop into our heads when we think of Australia. We found all this and more in Airlie Beach, Queensland. This is a tourist area at the heart of the Whitsundays, a group of 74 islands within the Great Barrier Reef. Arlie Beach itself is a launching point for boats and tours out into the islands and further to the reef. Its beautiful coastline and ease of access to many offerings makes it a popular spot.
While we were in Airlie Beach we took a day boat tour which enabled us to see a bit of Hook Island and Whitsunday Island. We went with the crew at Whitehaven Beach Express, choosing them because they were able to do a BBQ on the beach. It’s the small things that can tip your decisions, right? The crew was great though. Their knowledge and expertise made it a great experience, even if the ocean was a bit choppy. Mihaela prepared well for it, using the patches for motion sickness and doing everything else she could to stave off sea sickness. I thought the rolling waves were great fun! It was the captain’s knowledge of the water that made the huge swells manageable. This made it so we could enjoy the rest of the day.
Our stops were magnificent, starting with a walk on Whitsunday Island from Hill Inlet. As we were approaching the shore on the transfer boat, we were surprised to see the beach covered with what looks like rubbish from a Styrofoam float breaking up. What we were really seeing was the pumice rock floating on the waves. After reaching the top of the walk we had a gorgeous view of the island. After this walk we went over to Whitehaven Beach to spend a few hours. The sun was bright, the water was warm, the day was gorgeous. We had a couple hours to enjoy ourselves while the crew set up and cooked a BBQ on the beach. Everyone got in the water. The time of year we were there wasn’t the best as it was near the Box Jellyfish season. Everyone wore stinger suits, a thin neoprene suit that covers you from ankle to head. These reduce the damage that can be done to you if you are unfortunate enough to encounter these guys. We were lucky though, and we didn’t see any jellyfish while swimming.
After swimming it was time for the BBQ and we had some unexpected visitors. A number of Goannas, or monitor lizards, ranging from half to one meter in length, came to see what we had for lunch. When lunch was over and we were packed back up, we headed to the north side of Hook Island, to Mantaray Bay for some snorkeling. While the ride over was the roughest of the day, the snorkeling was beautiful and made up for the ride.
While we were in the Airlie Beach area, we also did a little hiking around. One place we found was the Cedar Creek Falls, a beautiful spot with some fresh water flowing. It’s rocky and has some elevation giving a really wonderful falls experience. We climbed up to the top of the falls so we could see the view from up there. It’s really worth the trip if you’re in the area.