Whitsundays and Airlie Beach

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The road to Airlie Beach was a long one...over 14 hours to be exact!

Our bus left Rainbow Beach mid afternoon and we were going to have to change buses at Hervey Bay and wait there for a couple of hours before getting our next bus that would take us overnight to Airlie Beach. As we arrived in Hervey Bay, our bus driver told us that there were storms up ahead and the roads were in danger of shutting...not ideal.

After three hours in McDonalds (thank goodness for Maccie's free wifi!) we and our new group of 'bus friends' made our way back to the bus stop, hopeful that we'd be collected. We were told that the weather was still bad but they would take us - but we were warned that we might be dropped off along the way if they couldn't make it any further - just what you want to hear!
Our merry band of five boarded the bus, having made a pact that if we were stranded we'd all chip in for a hotel room for the night. However, the gods were with us. We kept creeping closer and closer to Airlie Beach, through the rain, but carrying on nonetheless. Our band of five grew and grew, picking up bedraggled groups along the way (some of which had been stranded for 10 hours!) However, the journey wasn't the most comfortable - at one point, somewhere around 4am, the window started leaking rainwater on my head.

We arrived at Airlie Beach, tired and groggy and were luckily able to check into Nomads with a group from the bus. There are so many places to stay in Airlie Beach, but we really enjoyed Nomads. They have a bar, washing facilities and a pool.
On the day that we arrived, they held a BBQ with beer and music. It was a great way to meet people and we ended up bumping into some of our friends from Fraser Island as well as people that were on our Whitsundays tour. We ended up having quite a boozy night and even went clubbing (Mama Africa!)

The main reason that everybody goes to Airlie Beach is because it's the gateway to the Whitsundays, so it's really easy to meet people who are going on your tour or just returning from it. There are lots of tours to cater for everyone - Clipper (party boat!!) Sailing Tours or the tour we decided to go for...Ride to Paradise. I would 100% recommend this tour! You don't sleep on the boat...you sleep in luxury...it's better! The day before we sailed we had to go and sign in with Ride to Paradise. We were given small, bright orange, waterproof bags to pack for the trip (much easier than lugging your backpack over) and make a quick stop for drinks.

Day 1
We made our way to the Marina and met our crew, Billy and Henry. They literally made the trip, I can't sing their praises highly enough. Once everybody arrived and were allocated their rashie (a light wetsuit for snorkelling) we left Airlie Beach and sped over to Paradise Cove.

Hidden, amongst the greenery, is a literal paradise. With palm trees and a beautiful view of the water, Paradise Cove is the definition of a hidden gem. They have a main house, as well as private houses that people can pay more to stay in. Everybody else is in rooms across the site.

My sister and I lucked out and were given the only room in the main house. It was perfect - and such a nice surprise. After four weeks of backpacking, this was luxurious. 

The photographs won't be able to do it justice, but from the window, you could see the water and it was....paradise. One of my absolute favourite memories, possibly of my life, is waking up to the sound of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' playing, with the sunrise visible through this window. Heaven.

The resort has a pool and jacuzzi that can only be described as an Instagrammers dream...as well as the BEST outdoor baths.

Another great thing about 'Ride to Paradise'...all of your food is included and prepared for you! The first afternoon was spent relaxing, getting to know each other and then being served a meal. It doesn't get better than that!

Day 2
The second day began nice and early with a trip to Whitehaven Beach. Once again, the pictures do not do it justice. We spent time in the water, spotting baby sharks and stingrays.

Billy, our tour guide, also made me try a green ant. A little strange...but it tasted really sour. Apparently, they can be a source of food. Not keen - I'll stick to the picnic that was prepared for us and waiting on the boat when we returned. 

We then went snorkelling. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Even if you're not a fan of the sea, DO IT! The reef is amazing - even better than when we went out in Cairns - and there are SO many fish. 

The real treat was on the way back - we saw whales, a mother and baby, breaching within 100m of the boat. It was unbelievable! Just when you thought they had gone they jumped again, or waved their fins. 

I remember calling my parents saying that it had been one of the best days of my life.

That evening was more social. We had a chat with Henry, our other guide, who explained where we had been and what we had seen, pointing out where we had seen the whales. We played games, went late night swimming...and had far too much to drink!!

Day 3
We were super sad to leave Paradise Cove on our final morning. Most of us were a little worse for wear, but that didn't stop one last snorkel at the Langford Sandbar in the hope of finding turtles (which we sadly didn't!) Before we knew it, we were speeding back towards Airlie Beach, already homesick for Paradise Cove.

We returned to Nomads for one more night. We spent the afternoon relaxing by the Lagoon in Airlie Beach. That night we had a 'reunion' party with everybody on the boat, including the crew. It was so sociable, with not just our boat, but lots others meeting in a bar (after a shower and change of clothes!) Some of us ended up going out - desperate for the trip not to come to and end.


It's difficult to sum up our time in Whitsundays. It was SO fantastic and I wish I hope this comes across in this post. It will be different for everybody, but if you get a chance - visit the Whitsundays.


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