Ahoy There. Skippering your own charter and exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
With 74 islands making up the Whitsunday’s, cruising around on your own yacht at your own pace is a pretty special way to do it. Our vessel of choice was a catamaran with 4 cabins. Each with its own ensuite, plenty of space to move around and not feel on top of each other.
Flying into Prosepine airport, it was only a short transfer into Airlie Beach where we stepped straight onboard our floating hotel and were given a briefing onboard followed by a handover. We opted for an extra half day instruction out at sea for some added confidence.
Voted best cruising experience 3 times in the people’s choice awards by Australian Traveller Magazine.
No trip to the Whitsunday’s would be complete without a visit to Whitehaven. This award winning beach stretches for 7km with white sand that is made up of 98% silica, one of the purest in the world and giving it its amazing luminescent colour.
At the northern end of Whitehaven is Tongue Point Lookout where you can do a short bush walk up to view the amazing Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach. Low tide is the best time to see the swirling sand and incredible colours that the shallow waters and white sand create. Tongue Bay is on the other side of the lookout and is a good spot to lay anchor for the night as its a lot more protected than Whitehaven.
One of the things I loved about this kind of getaway was how relaxed it was. Each day was a smorgasbord of choices, which island to explore, which reef to snorkel, what beverage to drink, to fish or not to fish. No need for fancy clothes or heels, sitting on the deck at sunset with a champagne over stories of the day’s adventures was an incredible finish to the day before retiring to the gentle rocking of the boat to lull you into a blissful sleep.
Of course for those nights when you felt like kicking up your heels, Hamilton Island wasn’t far away. Either pre arranged or calling in from the boat to check availability, the marina was a great option for a night out and to replenish supplies half way through your trip. Also the only island with its own airport, flights depart daily from Sydney, Melb, Brisbane and Cairns.
Butterfly Bay had to be one of my favourite places to snorkel. This uninhibited bay was a sheltered picturesque slice of heaven. Designated green zone and world heritage listed makes for one of the best snorkelling experiences. Bat fish greet you as you take anchor, along with a mecca of colourful marine life. Some very large maori wrasse call this bay home
Incredible rugged mountanious landscapes made it hard to put the camera away, so most of the time it was close by. With each cove we sailed into, would find me scouring the heights of the mountains to find its resident white bellied sea eagle or two. Fascinating to watch as it came time for dinner and they would soar above in search of some seafood delicacy to take home to the family
Dolphins were renown for being somewhat elusive in the area, so we all squealed for joy when greeted on our last day with splashing coming from the bow of the boat and there they were a huge pod playing all around us.
As with any holiday, the weather can make or break the location. With sailing the mixture of conditions we experienced were all welcome. Depending on the wind direction, there was always somewhere to find some wind to fill our sails or a cove or island to protect. Weather seemed to change quite quickly though, so preparation was key.
Squalls of weather would come in so quickly and the pass just as quick. Overall one of my favourite holiday experiences. My only negative was it wasn’t long enough. Could easily have stayed out there for 10 days. Queensland Yacht Charters were incredibly helpful and I would definitely go through them again for this holiday experience.