The Whitsundays is on everyone's bucket list, or if it's not then it definitely should be. Hundreds of different boats offering a range of one to three day trips, in varying group sizes and varying standards of luxury. My boat was called Avatar and was with a company called Ozsail.com and was a two day, two night trip. There was 23 guests and 4 crew (a skipper, two deck hands and a chef). The boat was beautiful; an ex racing boat with plenty of room on deck for sunbathing. Inside the boat was incredibly basic, with nothing but small bunks, a tiny kitchen and the worlds smallest toilet. You do all your eating, drinking and socialising outside. It is for this reason that I would recommend not booking this trip until you have checked the weather forecast. I had beautiful weather for the duration of my trip, but if it was raining you would probably have a terrible time as there really isn't any room below deck and so you would have to sit on deck getting wet.
Unfortunately due to the tide we had a late departure on my first day. We met the crew, met each other and started the two hour sail out the the islands. I really enjoyed helping out with the sailing and was the first eager volunteer to help out with the "grinding". For those sailing novices that involves turning a wheel really quickly to get the sail up. This boat was so much more complex to sail then the Picos that I was sailing this time last year! The skipper was really knowledgeable and taught us all lots about sailing.
Food on the boat was amazing. I really don't know how the chef cooked for so many people in such a small kitchen. And it was so nice not to have to cook for a few days. Sleeping was pretty horrible. The crew needed some girls to volunteer to pair up and sleep in the "double" bunks. I had made a friend on deck pretty quickly and so me and her volunteered. Big mistake. These bunks were barely single size and on my first night I slept next to the wall, with the ceiling scarily close to my head and my new friend sleeping next to me making me feel very trapped. Why did I volunteer?!!
But the next day more than made up for the uncomfortable sleep. We were woken up at six AM and started our sail over to Whitehaven beach. Whitehaven beach has been voted the second most beautiful beach in the world. I can't help but be very envious of whoever's job it is to visit all these beautiful beaches and rate them. I have already been to the seventh most beautiful beach in the world, a beach in Greece called Horse Shoe Bay and so I was suspicious that Whitehaven wouldn't be as good in comparison. But the person with the greatest job in the world certainly made the right call as Whitehaven is without doubt a prettier beach. It's called Whitehaven as the sand is 99.9% pure silica sand, making it incredibly white. The grains are so tiny it feels more like powder then sand. The water is so clear you can easily see the fish in the water. Our boat got us up early so that we could be some of the first there. The problem with this beach being so beautiful is that everyone wants to see it, and so it can get overcrowded in the day. But we had a lovely few hours sunbathing and exploring before the masses arrived. The famous saying out there is "take only photos, leave only footprints". This is because there are huge fines for anyone caught taking the sand or shells from this island. The sand has only been sold once in it's history. Twenty years ago 4 tons of sand were sold from this beach to NASA, who used the sand to create the telescope which they then launched into space.
After a few hours sunbathing it was time to head off to the next location. We went to a reef to do our first snorkel. Most people think of the Great Barrier Reef as being in Cairns, but it actually starts just north of Fraser Island. So in the Whitsundays you are right in the heart of the Reef. You must wear stinger suits whenever you are in the water here. Due to the huge threats that currently face the Reef many companies have taken the decision to not allow snorkellers to wear flippers. That is because when people wear them they kick back hard when they swim, often hitting and damaging the coral. When people don't have flippers on they take much more care with where they kick, as kicking back on the coral would hurt, a lot. The first snorkel was pretty mind blowing and I was not even finished exploring all that was on offer before me and my buddy were called back on the dingy.
We then sailed to our next location; luncheon bay. Called Luncheon Bay as when Captain Cook sailed through the Whitsundays he and his crew stopped at this bay for lunch, and so this is what he names the Bay. It has been voted the best location for snorkelling in the entire Great Barrier Reef. It genuinely blew my mind. The fish were happy to swim right up to you and they were everywhere. One fish called Elvis (he looks like Elvis) was bigger than me and was more than happy for me to swim with him for a while. His girlfriend Prucillia was also pretty big. I found out that when Elvis dies Prucillia will become the lead fish and will transform her internal organs into male organs. Pretty cool stuff. Our deckhand was on the dingy nearby and got me to put my head down while he threw fish food around my head, I was surrounded by so many fish I couldn't see any water any more. It was awesome.
After this we started our sail for our evening location. On route we saw countless whales swimming nearby. I couldn't believe how slowly they move through the water. They seemed like surprisingly gently creatures for something so large. We then all had to start whistling to get the eagles to come over. When three of them started circling the boat one of the deckhands started lobbing chunks of meat in the air. Their speed and precision is unbelievable as they swoop down and catch it. You can see their neck getting bigger as they don't eat the meat straight away, they store it and take it back to their nests to feed their young. It was then time to anchor up for the night. We all sat on deck for hours that night singing along with one of the boys who had brought his guitar on board. Very chilled end to an amazing day.
Unfortunately I got the impression that the next day the crew wanted to finish early and hit the pub, as we didn't do much and got back pretty early. We just went to one beach and then headed straight back. But to be honest I was getting very excited for a shower and a sleep by that time. I never thought I would look forward to sleeping in a bunk bed, but after that bed on the boat my bunk bed felt like heaven.