“It is 5:14pm and I am sat on the deck of the Waltzing Matilda sailing boat, anchored at Ravens cove for the evening. The sea is definitely sea state zero, as calm as can be and the wind is very low. The sun is just thinking about setting behind the rolling hills of the islands and I feel pretty relaxed.”
The Whitsunday Islands are a highly blogged about place, a tourist must do destination on every Aussie itinerary, and something most people have heard about even if they have never been to Australia.
So, is it all its cracked up to be?
Well, from my opening statement you can probably guess I think it is. But why? Well, in the first 60mins from leaving the harbour in Airlie beach we had already spotted 3 dolphins, a turtle poking his head above the water, and a whale! Well as far as I’m concerned we could have turned around right then and I would have been satisfied! But no, we carried on sailing for a further 1hr30mins until we reached Black island . This island, part of the Whistundays group, is home to one of the most spectacular fringing reefs in the area. And wow, did it live up to expectations. I spent around an hour in the water before I was too cold, but in that time I had 100s of fish literally swim over me, swam right over a massive Stingray calmly lying on the floor of the reef, and marvelled at the colourful show of soft and hard coral gleaming in the sun. Honestly this reef was equal in quality to Hastings Reef, a spectacular outer reef and part of the world heritage site The Great Barrier Reef. I was impressed!
(this photo doesn’t do it justice – but I love the brain coral! can you spot it?)
(another poor quality photo – but I had to show you the stingray!)
It was then time to up sails and experience the magic of being on a sailing boat. Well, the wind was pretty low, so we drifted for a while and then the wind picked up and we went sideways ha, and then we dropped sail and started the engine back up.
After 30mins or so we arrived at our destination for the night, Ravens cove. A small shingle beach set against a tree filled hilly background, it was the perfect location to watch the sunset over the Whitsundays and sip a vodka soda lime, perfection.
As the sunset, the stars came out. The only time I have seen that many stars and such a clear sky was in the middle of the Sahara desert. There is nothing as spectacular as watching a sky filled with diamanté’s glitter in front of you as you bob gently up and down on the sea.
I slept really well, the single bunk was surprisingly roomy and there was a small window (top bunk bonus!) which meant you could watch the stars too!
615am and I got up to watch the sunrise… slight fail in that we were in quite a protected cove, and as the sun rose behind one of the islands, it was pretty much out of view of us. The early morning wasn’t wasted though, because as we set sail for Whitsunday island and the infamous Whitehaven beach, the sea was so still it looked like glass. The skipper Alex, informed us that this happens probably only 12 days out of a year, so we were pretty lucky. I’d seen something similar when sailing around the lochs in fort William, but they were sheltered, so it was pretty awesome to see it actually at sea.
We arrived at Whitehaven beach at around 830am, and after a short speedboat ride into shore, we started walking from tongue bay, to the viewpoint at hill inlet. On our way up we spotted a monitor lizard which was super cool – I later learned this was a Lace Monitor, after a visit to the FREE science museum in Brisbane!
The view point offered the most spectacular view. The sea looked like it was made of turquoise and blue ribbons it was that clear! The sand was bright white and being a crystal clear, blue skies, beating sun style day, the view was probably nearing its best.
We walked down the track and onto the beach and that’s when you could really appreciate just how white the sand was, and as you entered the sea, just how crystal clear it was. I could probably have spent the rest of my time in Australia enjoying the view, and the stunning beach that is Whitehaven, but it would probably have been a waste… 3 hours of sunning and swimming later, we headed back to the boat.
It was a 3 hour sail back to Airlie beach, and the sails did go up for about an hour, so we got to experience being on a real sailing boat. I must admit I was slightly relieved when he turned the engine back on and downed sails though, because I was burning to a crisp even with factor 50+ on, and in our low wind conditions, you definitely move quicker with the engine!!!
And that was it, the whitsunday adventure was over. An amazing experience, I don’t think we could have asked for better weather and sea conditions. Spotting whales, dolphins and turtles was an added bonus and the amazing snorkelling at the fringing reef off of black island was just the icing on the cake.
Our two day 1 night sailing adventure was on the waltzing Matilda, and booked through Whitsunday Sailing Adventures. If your looking for a small group, reasonably priced, relaxed trip then I cant recommend them more.https://whitsundayssailingadventures.com.au
If anyone’s heading to the Whitsundays soon and has any questions, or wants more details about this trip in particular please message me!