Off to the Whitsundays!!

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I had the amazing good fortune to find myself in Airlie Beach this past weekend – it’s in the tropics and as soon as you get off the plane you feel it! It was at least 34° at the start of each day and only got hotter as the day went on, but how can you complain when you’re in the TROPICS?? You can’t! I loved the variety of landscapes from Proserpine Airport to the main street in Airlie Beach – you go from small town, rural sugar cane farms and vast open spaces to clusters of houses crowding the coastline, hundreds of boats filling the marina and heaps of little shops lining the streets along the beach. I stayed at X-Base Backpackers Hostel at the beginning of the Main strip, right across the street from the large man-made “Lagoon” that serves to protect everyone from the jellyfish – it’s “stinger season” in the tropics this time of year and you are not supposed to swim in the ocean without a “stinger suit”.  I found it a bit funny that I was staying in a town called Airlie “Beach” and there was barely a beach – just a small strip of sand that was a bit rocky and coarse – not at all what I had pictured! Yet, the thought of being stung by a jelly fish was enough to make me thankful for the Lagoon – I had the bad luck of being stung once by a jelly in the South of France, not an experience I’d wish to repeat especially with the most poisonous jellies in the world!

I spent my first day meeting the girls in my dorm and lounging by the Lagoon soaking in some sun! It was one of the best most relaxing afternoons I’ve had in a while – very “vacation-y”! I made a great new friend from Germany and even though there was a language barrier we made it work and somehow just “clicked”! Funny how that works, you can’t communicate easily with words but somehow communicate perfectly! This is one of my favourite things about traveling! Meeting new people from ALL over the world and having experiences like that where you don’t need the right words – you just understand! Sharing stories and experiences with each other just makes you a richer person and I definitely value learning about other people’s cultures and countries!

The next day I had an all day sailing adventure to the Whitsundays booked! It was a VERY early start but so WORTH it!! We sailed on the Camira – a boat that made me instantly fall in-love with sailing!! SERIOUSLY! I loved every minute on board that boat! It is so relaxing and at the same time energizing to sail – flying across the ocean at times and at other times just floating along without a care in the world. I was lucky enough to get a prime spot on one of the “trampolines” – not to jump on! – and laying there soaking up some sun and gorgeous views was amazing! I also made a new friend who was from where else? – VANCOUVER! We had so much fun talking about all our travels and of course HOME!

We stopped mid-morning to go for a swim or a beach walk along Whitehaven Beach! This beach has the WHITEST sand I have EVER SEEN in my life! No exaggeration! It was absolutely stunning and because it is a national park there are no developments or tourist traps – just miles of untouched white sandy beaches with a deserted island vibe! It is so quiet and peaceful and just so beautiful that you can scarcely take it in. PLUS the sand is super fine and 90% silica so it does not retain heat – even though it is as white as can be it is NOT HOT to the touch! I couldn’t get over that! We spent nearly 2 hours there exploring, enjoying the sand, or playing in the water (with “stinger suits” of course!).  It was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and I am so glad that I was able to see it with my own eyes, to experience the feel of the sand between my toes and breathe in that tropical ocean air! The water was amazing too! It was so warm it felt like bath water!

After Whitehaven Beach we had a real Aussie BBQ on the boat – so YUMMY! We had steak, fish, sausages, or BBQ chicken and amazing salads – I of course had some of EVERYTHING! I had worked up quite the appetite from relaxing all morning! Once we finished lunch we sailed to another island on the Whitsundays and did some snorkeling. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by it as the water was very cloudy and I didn’t see one fish. I also struggled with staying afloat and keeping the salt water out of my snorkel mask’s breathing tube and at one point I had to work really hard to control my breathing to prevent it from getting to that panicky-quick-breaths-little-oxygen-coming-in feeling! I ended up finishing a bit early with it deciding to head back to the boat to enjoy a nice cold beer and the views! I decided it wasn’t all lost since I had the Great Barrier Reef to look forward to still and was determined to not let this snorkeling experience be my last – I was going to give it another go!

All in all I had one of the best days ever! Sailing is one of the best ways to enjoy the Whitsundays and I would highly recommend it to anyone heading out to Airlie Beach! Honestly you won’t be disappointed, and they have packages that go from a few hours to a few days/nights of sailing along the Whitsunday Islands. It is an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world and would go again in a heartbeat – bad snorkeling experience included! The rest of my time in Airlie Beach was full of relaxation and making new friends! I loved every minute of it! Stay tuned for my GBR Adventure!

Ta (Aussie for “thanks”),

~Naph

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