We arrived in Airlie Beach after a pretty horrible 12 hour overnight bus journey & had to trek to our hostel - Magnums, exhausted & fully loaded up with our bags as for some reason, they were one of the few places that wouldn't do a free pick-up. Luckily it wasn't too far but we were still recovering from our Fraser Island trip so we weren't too impressed! The drive into Airlie had been really scenic, it had a lovely marina & the town had a really nice feel to it. However, that first day, we didn't really get round to any exploring as we went for a 'quick nap'as soon as we were allowed to check into our room & woke up 5 hours later at 6pm! As we were starting our 2 day Whitsunday Islands boat tour the next day, a catch-up on sleep was much-needed & we did feel much better for it. We did remember to check-in at the office for our boat trip where we were given instructions for when/where to meet the following day.
6th June - Whitsundays Island Boat Tour 'Pride of Airlie'
The Scottish lads from our Fraser Group (Paul, Ross & James) arrived in Airlie bright & early, fresh off an overnight bus so we went & met them for some drinks. Sadly they hadn't booked to do the Whitsundays but we did discuss a few ways we could try to smuggle them onto the boat! After that, we had to go to a welcome meeting to book our rooms on the island & arrange stinger suit hire etc & we then had another hour or so before we had to meet down at the marina. Back to the pub with the boys, via a bottle shop to buy our goon for the boat & then it was time to head down to the meeting point. The boys came along for the ride, still plotting ways to blag it onto the boat, but when it came to producing their boarding ticket, they resigned themselves to the fact that they were staying in Airlie.
Our boat - The Pride of Airlie, set-off at around 3pm & we having left the boys behind, we set about making some friends in our group of 60. The boat was set-out well, with lots of space on deck for sitting/sunbathing & as Karine, Matthew & Caroline from our Fraser Island group were also on the same tour, we knew some friendly faces. We arrived at South Molle Island at around 5pm & went to check in at our dorms. Happy hour started at 5.30pm so we headed down to the bar & stocked up on jugs of Snakebite. Dinner was served at 7pm, veggie kebabs & lots of different types of salad (not too shabby for an all-inclusive) & then the drinking games began! Everyone was on top form with it being the first night so we had a great time chatting to different people & joining in the games. We made friends with a couple of Irish lads, John & Steven who made us laugh but it was the guy who in a drunken state had let someone talk him into putting on a pair of girls lacy, french knickers & had then promptly fallen asleep wearing them who provided the most entertainment & best photographic evidence!
A bright & early start, on an extremely cold & grey morning! We all boarded the boat & headed for Whitehaven Beach which is well known for it's pure, fine white sand & snorkelling but as the visibility wasn't too good that day & the sun was starting to struggle through the clouds, we settled for lying on the beach & chilling out. It was a lovely spot, very clean & the ocean was very pretty. Our sunbathing was rudely interrupted by the tour reps who insisted that we all play team games, like tug-of-war & wheelbarrow races which was a good laugh. At around 12.30pm, we all boarded the boat again for lunch & then spent a very relaxing afternoon sailing around the stunning Whitsunday Islands with the sails up & the motor off. There are 75 islands in the Whitsundays & the views as you sail around them are out of this world.
We made it back to South Molle Island just after dark & after a little kip to refresh ourselves, we went down to the bar for dinner & drinks. It was a bit less lively on the second night, I think everyone was tired after such a late one the night before followed by an early start but it was another fun night - despite the cold temperature & torrential rain that started just as we were sitting down to dinner & then didn't stop until the following morning.
On the final day, we woke for breakfast at 7am & the boat set off at 8. We were off to Hook Island where we'd been promised some of the best snorkelling Oz has to offer. As the boat got going, the sun came out in full force & we enjoyed some sunbathing on the deck as we made our way to the island. When we got there, we all donned our very sexy stinger suits & snorkels/masks & I decided to jump straight in off the boat. The snorkelling was as good as promised, I felt like I was in Finding Nemo! I saw loads of amazing coloured fish as well as seabed plants, not being a diver myself I couldn't really name what I was seeing but it was incredible!
After the snorkelling we got back onto the boat for lunch & then started a slow sail back to Airlie. The kept the motor off & the sails down for the first leg & we pitched up on the top deck for some much needed sunbathing. It was pure bliss! We arrived back in Airlie by about 2pm & hurried back to the hostel craving a proper shower & some clean clothes that weren't covered in sand! We met up with Scottish James a bit later, who had stayed in Airlie to join us on the big night out that they throw for all the boats that have arrived back that day. Paul & Ross had already headed onto Cairns but we had a really fun night out with James & the rest of our Whitsunday group.
It was another fantastic experience that showed us some of Australia's paradise. It was a shame that the weather was only good for one of the days but at least it was for the most important day!
We checked out of our hostel at 10am, transferring our luggage to the storage room there as we had to kill time until our Greyhound bus left for Cairns at 20.30 that night. It was another gorgeous day weather-wise though, so we spent most of the day camped out by the marina, topping up the sun tans.