Whitsunday Haven

Airlie Beach Travel Blog

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Whitehaven Island

So, after we left the Joeys we headed North to Airlie beach.

The journey there was an overnight bus, never a first choice for us but because we'd been used to early starts and had put in a good few hours hard work that morning we both managed to sleep through the night (but did awake in some discomfort). We were going to Airlie Beach as we wanted to do some snorkeling and had heard it was a good place for snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef around the Whitsundays. We didnt want another Byron Bay hostel experience so booked a double room in a small family run place a little way out of the main town, but which had regular shuttles to and from town.

My lovely wetsuit
It turned out it was a good choice, very quiet and peaceful, with the staf knowledgeable about the local tours. We decided to book on a one day tour with a company that had a larger boat (larger = calmer, hopefully) as the two recommended were basically the same trip, only the larger boat took more people. We were picked up from outside our hostel by a courtesy bus and driven down to the harbour. The staff on board were all very friendly and recommended hiring wetsuits as it is stinger season, small, hard to see jellyfish with stings that will leave you in pain ranging from mild discomfort to out and out 'please cut my leg off' torture. We, not wanting to experience jellyfish stings, hired suits. I became a bright yellow blob and Rachel was a dark blue blob.

Our first stop was Whitsunday Island, where we went ashore and were lead up a short track to a look out point.

Getting used to my flippers
The view was very pretty, with the guide pointing out sleeping manta rays and nurse sharks in the water below us. We also got to see Whitehaven Beach, the 4th most photographed landmark in Australia. Afterwards the boat took us over Whitehaven beach where we had time to chill out while the learner divers had a lesson. The sand on the beach is 99.90% pure silica, the purest form in the world apparently. It is great for cleaning jewellery so I took the chance to polish up my rings a bit. Once our time was up we had a light lunch while the boat sped to our last destination, where we would be able to snorkel. It turned out that one of the women that had been taking the scuba diving lesson was 70 years old! It was the first time she had ever tried it and had freaked out a bit which she was disappointed about but the instructor was very sweet and said that when all the other divers when off with the diver master he would spend the time with her one on one and make sure she got to see the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef!!

Once we arrived at the spot we togged ourselves up in snorkels, mask and flippers and headed into the water. The skipper pointed us in the direction of the reef and we headed off. At first we couldnt see much, it was quite overcast so visability was reduced but as we got into shallower water we spotted the divers below us. A bit further on we came to coral, vast stretches of amazingly diverse shapes, sizes and colours. There was huge circular coral that looked like mini mazes (or brains), tiny fragile stems like leaves and 101 varieties inbetween. The coral was near enough to dive down to, it was beautiful to see so close. Intricate details stood out, such delicately designed patterns alive and sustaining a whole ecosystem. We saw plenty of fish, in the shallower water they were smaller but there were a few larger fish darting out, all not bothered about us in the least. We did see here and there spots where the coral had died, whether through reckless diving or natural causes. Our skipper warned us before we went in not to touch the coral, to make sure our fins didnt even brush the coral or he would kick our butts. It was nice to see a tour operator that cares.

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Whitehaven Island
Whitehaven Island
My lovely wetsuit
My lovely wetsuit
Getting used to my flippers
Getting used to my flippers
The Great Barrier Reef!!
The Great Barrier Reef!!
Looking for Nemo
Looking for Nemo
Airlie Beach
photo by: Anouksreizen