Finally, the morning of our Whitsundays trip arrived! We were picked up from outside our accommodation at 9am and dropped off at the little harbour a couple of kilometres away. There’s a really quick signing in process, then a short wait before you board the boat, ours was called Thunderstruck! Our crew for the day were skipper Carl and fountain of knowledge/general entertainer Ross. They went through all the health and safety stuff before giving us a brilliant demonstration of just how fast and quickly our little boat could turn… quickly proving that this trip is not for the hungover, as one poor fella quickly learnt, so glad we hadn’t been drinking much the night before! We were in the boat for around 45 minutes before we reached our first stop, a snorkelling site just off Hook Island. The beautiful coral and fish were absolutely amazing, it was like round two of our great barrier reef trip earlier in the week, incredible!
We had ages to snorkel before it was time to get back on the boat, I think we’d all got back on before our time was up anyway, Carl kept telling us to get back in if we wanted and not to rush, which was great because a lot of the time on tours you can feel like you’re moved on to the next place too quickly. Our next stop was Tongue Bay on Whitsunday Island itself, the boat dropped us off on one side of the island, then sailed round to the other side so we could take a walk through the Whitsunday National Park and meet him there.
The short walk up Hill Inlet is probably the most rewarding walk you could ever do, ever. Ross gave us loads of info about the island, who had first inhabited in etc. which was great to learn, then finally we reached the top, to see the most perfect view I think I’ve ever looked at in my life, whiteheaven beach.
The views from the top of Hill Inlet are absolutely stunning, like nothing I’ve ever seen before, 98% pure silica sand, crystal clear waters, blue skies, a few fluffy white clouds, just amazing. No picture from different days at Hill Inlet will ever be the same, because the tide and wind are constantly changing the patterns in the sand below. Our guide was great, taking pictures for us all and telling us some more about the island, then leading us back down the other side of the hill and onto the beach. The sand felt amazing between your toes and the sun reflecting off it was so bright you couldn’t keep your sunglasses off for very long! I still just cannot get over the beauty of Whitsunday Island!
When the group was rounded back up we walked through shallow water to the boat, I literally love everything about this trip, there’s something so great about walking out in perfectly clear waters and hopping back on your boat! We made our way round to Whitehaven beach, sailing right alongside the island the whole time, only two tour companies have the permits to sail the way that we went so that was exciting. Once we arrived at Whiteheaven there was about 5 minutes between us jumping off the boat and then being called for lunch which was great, out of nowhere the guys pulled this amazing buffet together, all you could eat with meat, pasta, salad, fruit, so so good! We then had an amazing couple of hours chilling out on Whiteheaven beach, so relaxing and although obviously there were a few other boats anchored near the shore it wasn’t overrun with tourists which you might expect of somewhere so famous.
Unfortunately though the time for us to head back to the mainland arrived, this time I sat on the side of the boat where you just have a rope to hold on to and the rest is up to your balance, so much fun! We took a different route home as well which was great as we got to see some of the other islands too. Ross showed us all the pictures he’d taken on the go pro that day on the Ipad, such good pictures, and when you get back they email you a link so you can buy the shots you really like, such a good idea. From the harbour you can catch your free ride back to your hotel, or alternatively as one of the guys pointed out there was a boardwalk back into Airlie Beach that was only a kilometre or so, such a pretty walk to finish off such an amazing day. I couldn’t recommend Ocean Rafting more for a one day trip to the Whitsundays, my Dad and Gill loved it too and they’re in a slightly older age category to us, so don’t let the fast, colourful boats let you think it’s not perfect for all ages.