When you arrive in Airlie Beach you are inundated with tour companies trying to sell you various trips sailing the Whitsundays. You have three main types of cruise: adventure, party and romantic. The boat I chose in all of three seconds turned out to be absolutely perfect for me. SV Whitehaven is a sailing boat with a chill but still social vibe, and a focus on the daytime activities.
This post is basically me just telling you to spend at least one night on a boat while in Australia. I slept on the deck with only two (very thin) yoga matts for support. Somehow I still had the best nights sleep of my life, and if I ever did wake up I had a ceiling of stars to gaze at. I hope reading this inspires you to spend a night away from light pollution, and look up at the sky.
What in the Whitsundays???
The Whitsundays are a group of 74 islands most commonly accessed by boat from Airlie Beach. The majority are uninhabited, covered only in lush green rainforest. However if you do happen to be rolling in money, there are options for you of course. Is it just me that likes looking up what I could do if I had a sugar tonne of cash? Hamilton and Hayman Islands are particularly popular celebrity retreats.
For the rest of us we have access to our own slice of paradise with the stunning Whitehaven Beach. This very instagrammable location is incredibly beautiful, and there really weren’t as many people as you might expect. The lack of crowds is definitely a perk of travelling the East coast in August/ early September. Stand in the crystal clear waters and watch the sting rays float around your feet.
Whitehaven beach is 98% silica sands. This is why the beach is so impossibly white. You won’t be hopping down this beach during the heat of the day, the sand always remains cool. It can only be melted by lightening, and when it strikes the beach, little glass bubbles are formed worth thousands of dollars. Take sand home at your peril, you are at risk of steep fines!
my experience Sailing the whitsundays
It is always weird when you first rock up to a tour. Everyone is looking around, wondering if they It are in the right location and sizing up their fellow guests. Everything always works out fine though. We were a real mixed bag, including a 56 year old solo female traveller who honestly just became one of the gang. SV Whithaven promotes itself for the young and young at heart. Age is just a number!
Half an hour into sailing the Whitsundays we had three dolphins swimming along with us, honestly looking as if they were having the best fun. They were only 20 passengers so we had ample room to hang off the sides and watch them leading our passage through the Whitsundays. There wasn’t enough wind to have the sails up, but this did mean perfect conditions for spotting whales!!!
Whitehaven beach was stunning of course, but my favourite moments were kayaking at one of two gorgeous snorkelling spots. I was really concerned that the coral would be very obviously damaged, but they still seemed to be thriving. There were plenty of fish and turtles about. Another perk of coming in August is less jellyfish. The stinger season starts in the Australian summer.
choosing your boat
I wholeheartedly recommend SV Whitehaven. There was a really chill vibe on board, and an emphasis on understanding your environment. Dave the captain was very obviously passionate about the Whitsundays, and gave really informative talks on the stars while we waited for dinner. He also gave a very funny talk on all the wacky traits of the sea life we might see snorkelling.
Obviously there is more than one boat for sailing the Whitsundays. This website is perfect for looking at your options. Alcohol was allowed on board the SV Whitehaven but it was definitely not a party boat. If you want an experience you definitely will forget, the Atlantic Clipper, New Horizon and Tongarra are well known for their crazy nights.
If luxury is more what you are after, Ride to Paradise takes you to a luxury island resort. The 2 day 1 night experience is $299, which is cheaper than many of the sleep on-board experiences. I’ve also heard amazing things about the food. Plus the next morning you still get to visit Whithaven. For me though, sleeping under the stars on a boat surrounded by wild islands, was just perfect.