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Everything You Need To Know About Sailing The Whitsundays

Sailing the Whitsundays was quite the adventure! We spent two nights and three days sailing to various islands off the coast of Queensland, snorkeling, paddle boarding, checking out Whitehaven beach, and bonding with our European shipmates!

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Sailing The Whitsundays: Day One

All 10 of us woke up early Saturday morning to fly north to Airlie Beach, Queensland. We had four hours to visit local markets, shop, and eat açaí bowls before boarding our boat around noon. As our boat was leaving the marina, we had a brief orientation and were shown to our rooms! I shared an air-conditioned cabin with my roommates: Marie, Kaitlyn, and Jess, and although our nook was tiny, it was such a fun sleepover aboard PowerPlay!

Pro-tip: Don’t have time for a multi-day sailing trip? This popular half-day cruise will bring you around the Whitsundays and to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach!

View of the Whitsunday Islands from Airlie Beach, Queensland
Our catamaran cabin in Queensland, Australia

We spent Saturday afternoon sailing the Whitsundays. The Whitsundays are a series of islands located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine park off the coast of Queensland. Most of the islands are uninhabited, but this part of the world has become a major tourist attraction for sailing. We spent hours laying out on the nets on the front of the boat listening to music and meeting new friends. Aside from us students, there were four young couples from the UK on board. Our captain, Nicko, was also quite the character.

Our first stop was in a quiet bay about two hours off the coast of Airlie Beach. We kayaked and paddle boarded before returning to the boat for dinner, and then sailed a few more hours to another, calm bay to anchor for the night. We had a delicious meal cooked for us on board and had so much fun hanging out at night!

Sailing The Whitsundays: Day Two

The next day (Sunday) began bright and early at 7 am for breakfast. This was my first time waking up on a small boat in the middle of the ocean, and I was lucky enough to see a rainbow first thing in the morning! After breakfast we took a small boat from our catamaran to nearby Whitehaven Beach. We were land-oh for the first time after almost 24-hours on board! We hiked up to Hill Inlet while the tide was low so we could see the famous white swirling sand… and it did NOT disappoint! I’ve never seen anything like it! Yet another place where pictures truly don’t do it justice, but hopefully the one’s below give you a good idea of Whitehaven’s natural beauty.

Morning rainbow over the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia
Visiting Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands

Visiting Whitehaven Beach

After our hike we made our way down to the beach. Whitehaven Beach is known for having some of the finest, whitest sand in the world. It was so fine that I was able to shine my jewelry with it! We got to the beach before other groups, so it was nice to have it mostly to ourselves for awhile. After pictures, we went for a swim in our wetsuits! The jellyfish are so prevelent in this part of Australia that we could not even touch the water without being fully covered.

This was a first. And hopefully a last.

Visiting Whitehaven Beach while sailing the Whitsundays
Visiting Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands

Snorkeling The Whitsunday Islands

After the beach we boarded PowerPlay and sailed through some rough waters (nicknamed the “washing machine” — god bless seasick medication) to our first snorkel spot. Within minutes, I saw the biggest fish I’ve ever seen; it was aqua blue, orange, and purple and at least two feet long! I’ve only ever seen fish like that in aquariums. We saw Nemo, many sea anemone, and a 100-year-old giant clam in our second snorkel spot. After our swim we rode the boat to another bay to anchor for sunset.

Sleeping Onboard A Catamaran

Tonight was one of the most memorable nights I’ve had. We sat on the nets, drank wine, and watched the sun paint colors in the sky as it dipped below the horizon. For dinner, the crew prepared sausages, steak, potatoes, salad, and rolls, followed by strawberry shortcake for dessert. A home cooked meal really hit the spot after almost two months of restaurants and my sub-par chicken dishes.

Once we were done eating, the fun began. Music was blasted, everyone was dancing, and songs were being belted in an array of accents from around the world. To make it even better, a local dolphin named Sally was playing alongside our boat.

We made our way to the hot tub at the front of the catamaran later on in the evening. Since we were anchored in the middle of the ocean, there was no light pollution and the stars were the clearest I’ve ever seen them. We ended our night sitting in a perfectly heated hot tub, playing with bubbles, sharing travel stories with friends new and old, listening to “Take Me Home, Country Roads” on repeat, and gazing up at the Milky Way drifting above. It was a night without phone service that I will always appreciate and remember.

Sitting in a hot tub on our catamaran while sailing the Whitsunday Islands

Sailing The Whitsundays: Day Three

The next morning we made our way back to Airlie Beach by cruising the Whitsundays one last time. We disembarked our catamaran, said goodbye to our new friends and the crew, and spent the afternoon eating and shopping in Airlie Beach. We flew home from Prosperine Airport late Monday night, and arrived back in Sydney ready for bed and a long shower.

Sailing the Whitsundays in Queensland, Australia

Sailing the Whitsundays is a unique adventure that I recommend anyone visiting Australia should do while studying abroad in Australia!

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Sailing the Whitsundays


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