After an uncomfortable 14 hour overnight bus journey, we pulled into Airlie Beach at 9am on Tuesday, 15 August. Got off the bus and it was already very warm! Walked round the corner and down the street to my hostel ? Magnums. Checked in and was placed in room 23. Magnums is very much like a holiday resort and I was in the cheapest 10 bed dorm for $16, although I had all my accommodation included in my package already. Met my roommates, Ben and Aidan (both English). Ben was hilarious and had me and Aidan in stitches as he told us stories of his time in New Zealand, including the time he went white water sledging ? don?t ask!!! Anyway, seemed to be just the 3 of us and a French couple, who it turned out were going on the same sailing trip as me the next day. I was so exhausted when I arrived after little to no sleep on the bus, that I zonked right out on the bed for a few hours. When I woke up I was hungry so went down to the caf?or a toastie. I then went to reception to hire my bed sheets and pillow (yes you did hear me right!) and it was here I bumped into none other than the 2 Sarah?s ? who had been on my Fraser Is. tour! Funnily enough, they were going to be on the same sailing trip as me as well, so I was glad I already knew 2 people. Went down to the booking place to book in for the sailing the following day and pay my reef tax etc. We were to meet down at the marina at 7.45am so I decided an early night was in order and headed back to Magnums. Had a shower and hit the hay early, warning Ben and Aidan not to make any noise when they came stumbling back in after the pub! Turns out they weren?t the problem however, when at 4am or thereabouts, what sounded like an army of Irishmen came bounding into the room, making ridiculous bird noises and laughing a lot. Luckily I was just too tired to stay awake and complain! And they promptly fell asleep anyway! The following morning I was up bright and early to pack my bags and put them in the storage room and then I met the Sarah?s and we walked down to the marina. Didn?t seem like our group was all that big and we thought that some of them may be missing. Our 3 crew then met us and they all seemed quite mad, Tim the Skipper (aka Stabby Joe) had a stab wound in his back! Sam the scuba instructor (from NZ) and Brendan the cook and his sidekick Anne (from Co. Cork) who was definitely not all quite there but we later found out had been recruited the night before in a bar and offered to come along as a crew member for free. Then we had 3 english girls from Cleethorpes with the most annoying accents you?ve ever heard, Simon from outside Birmingham (but minus the brummy accent), 5 french, 2 italian girls and so on, you get the idea. Think there were 24 of us in total, although apparently the boat could accommodate up to 35 (however we found this hard to believe). After running through the on board safety rules and talking about what we would be getting up to over the next few days we set off from the marina. Was a lovely day, although a few clouds occasionally blocked the sun for a bit which made it chilly. We headed to our first port of call, Hook Island where we went donned our stinger suits and masks and fins and went snorkeling. Those that hadn?t yet hit the booze could also give scuba diving a go. I did this and although it only lasted 10 minutes, it was really amazing, except I got into a bit of bother with my mask which kept filling up with water! After the dive, we were able to snorkel around the bay for about an hour and then took great delight in jumping off the roof of the boat into the water! At this point I discovered the group of irish lads on the boat had been the ones to storm into my room the night before, but they actually turned out to be a cracking bunch and we got on well! Then it was back on board for some lunch and we cruised around some more before going to the other side of the island where we moored the boat. The tender then ferried us to the shore and we made the walk through the woods to the Hook Island Resort where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. We got showered and changed and headed back down to the boat for dinner and to get the drinking underway. I?m not kidding when I say this crew are obsessed with drinking games and we played just about every drinking game known to man! As a result we all ended up suitably sozzled by about 11pm! Haha! Around that time, the first of the group wanted to return to the island, so Sam jumped in the tender with them to take them to shore. He hadn?t come back for ages and when we looked over board after a while, there he was SWIMMING back to the boat dragging the tender behind him. The engine had failed and the rest of us that were left on board were then told we would have to sleep on board tonight! This didn?t seem to bother anybody and Brendan set about getting all the sleeping bunks set-up. I jumped into a top bunk above Sarah E. Then I started shouting out to Brendan and as I leant forward plummeted head first out of the bed and hit the floor with an almighty thud. Brendan came running back in to see me in a drunken heap on the floor, moaning and holding my head! Don?t worry, I was ok ? but was sporting some mighty fine bruises the next day! After that we all fell asleep quite quickly. The snoring from the irish guys and Brendan was absolutely unbelievable, but luckily I wasn?t aware of it until the next morning when I woke up first at around 5.30am. I needed the loo, but to get there involved climbing over about 6 sleeping bodies. So upon exiting the toilet and making my way back across the assault course, I decided to just head up to the very front of the boat and lay down on the deck. The fresh air was lovely anyway and the rocking of the boat was very calming for my sore head! I must have been laying there with my eyes closed for about 10 minutes when I heard this big gushing sound. I sat up and looked out over the water and there in front of me at the other side of this stretch of water was a humpback whale!! I immediately jumped to my feet and ran back inside to grab my camera. Brendan was already up and about when I came in and I told him there was a whale outside and he came out to see it too. He said he thought it was dolphins as it wasn?t moving, but it was definitely a whale. He said it was peculiar behaviour for a whale and I suggested that maybe it was having a baby! We?ll never know however, as I sat and watched it for about 20 minutes and then it slowly began to move off. What a way to wake up though!! Soon the other guys (those lucky enough to have slept on land!) came back down to the jetty to meet us. The guys managed to get our boat in close enough so that they could all leap on and me and the irish guys jumped off so we could run back to the resort and get changed and grab what we needed for the day. Then we returned and we were off again. We were heading for Whitsunday Island and the glorious Whitehaven Beach. Once we got there though, they informed us that due to the broken tender, if we wanted to see Whitehaven Beach, we?d have to swim to shore! Nobody wanted to do this due to sharks and jellyfish, but Simon, Valentina and myself were like ?ah who cares about that, we?ll do it!? So we put our stinger suits back on, grabbed some flippers and jumped in. Was quite easy to swim into shore as we had the waves to pull us in and once we got there we lodged our fins high up on a rock and then we had an hour to walk the beach. This is the beach that is shown in all the postcards of the Whitsundays and is what I always picture when I think of them. Unfortunately we were there on a cloudy day, but the colours of the water were still breathtaking. The tide was out and large pools of water had collected on the beach. On one side you had a green one, on the other side, a blue one ? it was amazing! And we soooo wished we?d had our cameras as it was just about the most picturesque thing any of us had ever seen! The sand was the whitest you could ever imagine and this huge stretch of beach was completely deserted but for the 3 of us! We wrote our names in the sand and then went for a walk right down the beach. At one point we entered one of the pools to wade across to the other side, but then half way through Simon and I just stopped dead and looked at each other. I think we?d both thought the same thing and suddenly remembered that box jellyfish could be in there and they are invisible in the water! We had the stinger suits on, but they don?t cover your feet and we were walking now! So we slowly backed up and stayed out of the pools from then on, knowing that if one of us were to be stung, then there would be no way of getting help and that person would die for sure! Soon our hour was up and the boat would be returning to pick us up, so we headed back up to the end of the beach to put our fins back on. We backed up into the surf and then started swimming out to meet the boat. Getting back out however was a lot harder than coming in as we were being battered by the waves. Eventually made it back and climbed on board, exhausted! Then we got changed and had some lunch. The sea was a lot rougher that second day and a lot of people ? myself included ? found the best position was hanging off the end of the boat. Seasickness was rife and while I didn?t actually vomit, I did feel decidedly queasy all day! After lunch we sailed to the other end of Whitehaven Beach (it?s 9 miles long in total) and were able to get the boat right into shore so that we could all just jump off into the shallow water and wade ashore. For 3 hours we lay on the sand. The boys played football, the girls made a sand mermaid and then as a group we dug a huge hole and pretended it was a hot-tub??!! Ah, fun times indeed! Then it was back on board and back to the island for our 2nd night. We had dinner on board around 6pm and then Tim sailed the boat right in to the jetty and we all jumped off. Tonight we would be partying on the island the crew would come up and join us once they?d got everything in order. So we headed back for showers and stuff and then although it is illegal to take alcohol onto the island we smuggled ours onshore and kept it in our rooms. We then each purchased one ?legal? drink from the bar and then kept running back to our rooms to refill with our own stuff! Once again the drinking games were kicked off, although by 1am I was too tired to keep going and so Simon and I headed to bed, followed shortly by Sarah E. Sarah H showed ?em how it was done by staying awake with Brendan and a couple of others until 4am! Next day (our last sniff sniff!) we?d been promised a lie in until 8.30 ? but at 7.15, Brendan comes storming in to wake us all up with ?oh what a beautiful morning?. There was no point in even attempting to sleep after that, so we all got up and packed. By 9am we had to be back down at the wharf to jump aboard. It was only once we were all on board and sailing away I realised I?d left my mobile phone underneath my pillow!!!! I didn?t want to cause a fuss because it?d had been a hard enough operation getting the boat in to the jetty the first time round but I told Brendan and he told Tim and Sam to stop what they were doing ?we were going back?. I felt like such an idiot. Rather than risk the difficult maneuver again however, they just moored the boat off the beach and Brendan jumped into the broken tender and as only one oar was working, he rowed ? Jack Sparrow style ? to shore and ran up to get my phone for me! What a hero!!! Once he was back, we set off again this time for Daydream Island where we would be snorkeling again. Most people jumped in and had a quick swim but then came back on board again. But Sarah H, Simon and I went in and stayed in the water for about an hour! We were amazed looking at the coral reef and the different species of coral and fish and discovered that when we swam on to the beach and sat just offshore in the water, the fish would follow us in to the shallows and swim all around us. These were tropical fish like we?d never seen before and they were swarming round us. It seemed as if they were just as intrigued by us as were by them. We were putting the tips of our fingers into the water and they were coming up and nibbling on them. There were these big rainbow coloured fish that were just made up of the most amazing pinks, blues, greens, yellows ? I can?t honestly believe that nature could make something that colourful!!! Even they were coming right up to us so we could stroke them! It was incredible. I discovered if I dipped a piece of coral that I found on the seafloor in the water they would all swarm round trying to eat it! We were scared to move incase we hit any of them, there were so many! It was the highlight of the trip, we all agreed. And yet another instance when we wished we?d had our cameras to capture it forever! After a while, we swam back to the boat and got into our dry clothes again. As we were sailing back to the mainland, Tim suddenly shouted out ?grab your cameras?. Up ahead was a huge humpback whale ? a mummy ? and her calf!!! The baby was taking great delight in leaping out of the water and splashing back down, while Mum swam alongside! We managed to get the boat right up close - it was fantastic! What a day!! Before we knew it we were back to Airlie Beach ? aww! After some group photos, Sam told us about the sailing ?after-party? which was held that night at a place called Reefos in Cannonvale ? the next town along from Airlie. So we all headed back to Magnums. We?d wanted to all be in a room together, but we weren?t allowed. The boys were back in the same room I?d been in on that first night. The Sarah?s were a couple of doors up from them and I was a couple of doors down in the other direction. After a lovely hot shower, I got ready and glammed up (as best I could, haha!) and met the Sarah?s. We headed for the shuttle bus to Reefos at 7.30pm. When we got there, the Reality team was the only group there! And it remained that way for the rest of the night. Nobody else showed up, except 2 of the crew from Koalas ?Pride of Airlie?. But it didn?t matter one bit! We had the time of our lives ? it was such a good night and everybody got very very drunk. I drank all the free jugs of sangria as well as a fair share of beer. By the end of the night we?d moved onto the chocolate shots! It was so much fun ? dancing on the tables and singing along at the tops of our voices! By 12, we had to leave and headed back into Airlie Beach on the shuttle bus to the irish pub ?Paddy?s Shenanigans?. Was so busy though, so then we headed up to another club, Morocco?s. Stayed here for about an hour dancing, but by this point everybody had been split up and the irish boys had stayed in Paddy?s I think. At the end of the night, the Sarah?s and I left to try and find the boys and one of the Pride of Airlie lads, came running across the street saying they were in Mama Africa?s ? we went in, but he clearly lied as the boys were nowhere to be seen. So we gave up and headed back to the hostel. Next day, I slept longer than anybody else in my room (very hungover!). At 11:15 I got up and the rest of the people had all checked out and gone on their own sailing trips or left. I started to pack up some of my stuff and it was then I realised that my GHD hair straighteners were missing! Turns out, they?d been stolen!!!! And my travel adaptor (the one Hannah had given me in Hervey Bay to replace the one that had been stolen in Brisbane) was attached to them! I was absolutely gutted! Asked at reception and with housekeeping and they said there was nothing they could do! Upon returning to my room later that day however, my adapter had returned and was sitting on the floor by my bag ? so the perpetrator obviously saw it in his/her heart to give me that back at least! Anyway, that day I just lazed about and recovered and went for a walk around Airlie Beach. The irish boys went quad-biking and Sarah E met a friend from College. Later that day, it became evident that everyone was going out AGAIN! So I got ready and we had some dinner and then went for a few drinks. There was a jelly wrestling competition on that night at the [email protected] nightclub within Magnums so with a first prize of $500 we encouraged Sarah E to enter. Eventually we twisted her arm and she went off to get ready. What a laugh it was! She came fourth out of 7 contestants and won a $35 bar tab. It was nothing short of vicious though and the next day she looked like she?d been ten rounds with a tiger! She was cut to shreds and had burns on her knees from the wrestling pit! Anyway, I managed to get up the next day and was on a 9.05am bus out of Airlie Beach and onto my next stop ? Townsville and Magnetic Island. All in all, I would say that my 5 nights in the Whitsundays have been the highlight of my entire east-coast trip. I?ve loved every minute and will remember it always!