After our last few stops, Airlie Beach was very busy! The main street has hundreds of travel agencies, which book tours around the Whitsunday Islands. Palm trees line the water and you can lounge around for hours in the lagoon, reading your book, going for an occasional dip to cool down and enjoying the sunshine. The weather here is much more tropical – it pays to get up early if you want to get anything done! Midday calls for lazing about the pool and having naps while the sun is at its peak. Then, the music starts early and backpackers get ready for a big night out.
We stayed at Nomad’s Hostel for $12 each. Situated on the main street, it takes minutes to walk anywhere. They have huge grounds, so its almost like a caravan park, but with all the perks of a hostel. We took advantage of the cheap meal deals at the pub next door and unlimited access to the swimming pools and facilities.
On our first day here, we had breakfast at a local cafe, before lounging around at the lagoon. Later, we spent some time playing guitar back at the hostel, cleaning surfboards and having a general tidy up. The afternoon consisted of browsing the shops, booking our Whitsunday tour and having a few drinks at a bar down the road. Not a bad holiday!
The Whitsunday Islands
Last time I was here, I spent two days on a sailing ship, which I would highly recommend if you have the time. But this time, we decided to go for a one-day rafting cruise. The best deal we could find was Big Fury, which gave us a brilliant day out. These islands are so beautiful that it doesn’t really matter how you see them. Simply being there on the ocean is enough.
On the way out, we passed by all the resort islands, private islands, a 17 million dollar house and the beach where Taylor Swift spent her last birthday party! This is a very wealthy region, but of course there are plenty of ways you can enjoy the area without owning your own island!!!
We stopped in the morning on the largest island (Whitsunday Island) to enjoy the pure sands of Whitehaven Beach. This place is paradise, with aquamarine water and pristine, white beaches. Unfortunately, with stingers in the water, we had to get dressed in stinger suits if we wanted to swim – not the most stylish attire, though better than getting stung by anything deadly. It was my lucky day, as no sooner had I stepped in a water, a beautiful sea turtle went gliding by, right in front of me. I grabbed a snorkel and tried to find it again, but it had disappeared into the ocean. Nonetheless, there were plenty of fish to admire.
After a delicious lunch of fresh salads, prawns and white bread rolls, we took a short walk up the hill, through the forest, to a large boulder, where you could get a majestic view of the islands and boats. On the way back, we spotted loads of goannas, camouflaged in the trees. One particularly greedy one had come to join us earlier that day for lunch, but did not succeed in getting any of our food!
In the afternoon, we cruised on towards Hook Island, where we stopped at Raven’s Cove for more snorkelling on the reef. It was beautiful beneath the water, with thousands of different coloured corals and bright parrot fish swimming in and out of the underwater forest. It really is another world down there. I always feel so lucky to glimpse it for an hour or two, when the opportunity arises.
By 5 o’clock in the afternoon, we were speeding home, the salty water spraying our faces as we enjoyed an afternoon tea of lamingtons, muffins and biscuits. It was a perfectly relaxing day tour and when we returned to the hostel, it was all but a distant dream. What an amazing world we live in!