Airlie Beach, Queensland

My grandest adventure in Australia was up to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the infamous Whitsunday Islands. It’s one of those places that’s plastered all over Buzzfeed lists of Top 10 Unbelievable Places or You’ll Never Believe This Australian Beach click-bait articles.  And honestly, it’s all totally justified. The Whitsunday Islands are truly unbelievable.

For starters, our hotel was incredible. Mom and I stayed at Coral Sea Resort in Airlie Beach, and somehow we managed to get the best room in the whole place, complete with a hammock and hot tub with a corner view of the amazing ocean.  Still today I can’t imagine anything quite as relaxing as lying in that hammock and listening to the waves.

Airlie Beach itself is a really cute town. It’s on the mainland, but regular boats tour between the islands so it’s very easy to get around.  There were a few cute little restaurants and some shopping to do here and there.  There were also some great-looking hostels that I would definitely check out if I were to go back on my own.

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The main event, though, was Whitehaven Beach, known for the whitest sand in the world. We opted for a half-day trip with Cruise Whitsundays which turned out to be the perfect introduction to the islands. We met down at the pier in Airlie Beach and piled onto the boat.  It was pretty crowded and very hot, but we quickly figured out the best kept secret of the boat: there are comfortable, air-conditioned benches in the captain’s quarters that were open to the passengers.  If the heat is a problem I would definitely recommend it! Once the boat gets going there’s also a pretty nice breeze which helps.

img_9173We made a few stops at the different islands to pick up passengers and then headed around Whitsunday Island to get to Whitehaven Beach on the western side of the island.  The beach is just as beautiful as the pictures.  It’s hard to believe that the water’s really that blue and the sand that white, but when you see it in real life it completely lives up to it.  It’s breathtaking, and the sand feels amazing.  I’ve really never seen anything like it.

stingersuitsWe got to spend the whole afternoon at the beach, and naturally we were both anxious to get in the water. It was stinger season so we had to wear stinger suits, provided to us when we were still on the boat.  The stinger suits were kind of like wet suits but made with lighter material – I am very prone to sun burn and heat stroke under the Australian sun, so I was actually grateful for the suits! Weirdly, the suit covers every inch of your body except for your face and feet (there’s even flaps for your hands!), which you’d expect are both vulnerable parts of the body.  They assured us that our feet would probably be fine, and the water was so beautiful and warm that it was worth the risk.  The stings are apparently quite painful, but they had medics on the boat and with the suits we felt good enough to get in the water.

The water was amazing. Warm, clear, and the craziest colour blue imaginable. I could have stayed in for the whole afternoon, and with the stinger suits it was easy to stay in as long as I wanted.

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The Whitehaven Beach day trip was such a success, and I would definitely recommend it to any Whitsunday first-timers.  We reluctantly had to leave at the end of the day, but I can’t wait to go back and spend even longer. Whitehaven Beach is paradise.

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