You can’t come to the Whitsundays without going out on at least one Island cruise. It’s what the Whitsundays are all about. With an unlimited budget we would have taken unlimited cruises. Alas our budget isn’t unlimited so we had to settle for just one. Therefore it was important to be sure the ‘just one’ we chose wasn’t going to be a disappointment.
We looked for a boat that didn’t take too many passengers, and one that didn’t operate like a ‘milk run’ using our time to pick up passengers from other islands. Looking at Tripadvisor, Whitehaven Xpress seemed to tick all of our boxes. Today’s boat trip carried 33 passengers including Paul and I. We departed from the Port at Airlie at 9am, and returned around 5pm, with transport to and from the boat included. Three meaningful stops were included for the day, none of which involved picking up passengers from other islands.
The day was beautiful. The sea was calm. First stop was the look out at Whitehaven Beach. It took around an hour to get there, and one of the crew, Ed, made us coffee and served us biscuits as we cruised through the calm clear waters.
The look out was accessed by way of a gradually ascending shady bush track. It was an easy walk and no trouble to complete with just thongs on our feet.
The view from the top was stunning.
On the way back down the track we came across a rather large golden orb spider. I put my hand behind the web as close as a dared for a comparison of size.
Next stop was Whitehaven beach itself. Whitehaven has the well deserved reputation of being the best beach in Australia. Theres no argument from us – if there’s a better one we’ve not come across it yet. The sand is white silica. It doesn’t get hot, and it squeaks when you walk on it. The water was warm, but at this time of year cool enough to have a very low stinger risk, so no stinger suits were needed when we swam there.
One of our other favourite beaches also has silica sand – Lucky Bay at Esperance. Lucky Bay though is on the Southern Ocean so although still stunningly beautiful like Whitehaven, any extended time in the water is likely to result in hypothermia. Today we happily floated around for ages without even getting a goose bump.
We had two hours there which included a pretty damned good barbecue cooked for us by the crew and served in a shady area just back from the beach.
Then onto Manderlay Beach at Hook Island for some snorkelling over part of the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkels, flippers, floatation aids etc were all provided, and for those who preferred to stay dry, there was a glass bottomed boat.
Then cheese and biscuits for our return trip.
We had a marvellous day, and met some nice people. There were a couple of families with young children on board. The kids, ranging in age from around two to around 12, quickly formed friendships and were amongst the happiest kids I’ve ever seen. I’m sure they must have been exhausted by the days end, but I didn’t hear a grizzle from any of them. They, like me, I’m sure will sleep soundly tonight.
Did we choose right for our boat trip . Absolutely. The crew of three were all competent and friendly (especially Ed), we were fed and watered well including a supurbly cooked barbecue lunch. We had a terrific balance of time on the boat and time ashore or in the water. The day was full, but not overloaded. No time was wasted with a dreaded ‘milk run’ itenarary. It was fantastic.
What a pleasure.