The Whitsunday Islands are home to some of the best beaches in all of Australia [and the world].
I flew into Hamilton Island on Saturday morning and little did I know at the time, this port is actually one of the most difficult places to land a plane and only experienced pilots should be allowed to land here. Thankfully, my pilot stuck the landing and since it was such a tiny island, I walked along the edge of the ocean until I found a nice place to enjoy some avo toast and a latte.
After getting sufficiently caffeinated, I took a ferry over to Airlie Beach. This trip was a little over an hour and it was such a nice day to have 365 degree views of this tropical paradise.
Upon arrival, I went straight to the Airbnb to meet up with a friend who had arrived here a day earlier. Our little condo had a gorgeous view of the ocean from the balcony and we even had a few friends (White Macaws) stop by to welcome us to the neighborhood.
We decided to celebrate our first night at the islands with some cheap wine and then we headed downtown to a popular bar to meet some new travelers. Turns out, we also had the privilege of meeting a bachelorette party and then scored some free drink cards from the DJ because she said we were just phenomenal dancers. Welcome to Airlie Beach, am I right?
Whitsunday Island Tour
The next morning we went down to the port to meet our island guide for the day. We booked this trip through a family-run business and everyone was so kind. In fact, when my friend and I put on our wetsuits backwards, he said, “Nice girls, you look great, but, just make sure you turn those around the other way.” [Oops]
Our first stop on the island tour was at Whitehaven Beach, which was just named the SECOND BEST BEACH IN THE WORLD in 2018 and it definitely lived up to its name. The time that we’d gone was also perfect, as there were only about 15 other people on the island with us. After taking a quick look around, we went on a short hike through the rainforest to reach this beautiful lookout spot. Our guide pointed out some of the reefs from here, as well as popular spots for the sea turtles to hang out in.
We then went back to beach to indulge in a nice picnic with our guides and other travelers. There were so many fun people with us that we were able to connect with; we definitely got lucky! Before leaving Whitehaven Beach, we decided the fish should have some lunch as well. As we waded in the shallows, our guide tossed some fish food around us and hundreds of tropical fish began to swim right through our legs! It was such a surreal moment.
Next, it was time to get up close and personal with some of the other species. We hopped back on the boat for a quick ride over to one of the Hazelwood Island reefs (part of the Great Barrier Reef) to get some snorkeling in. The Great Barrier Reef isn’t just one big reef, as some may imagine. The term is actually referring to over 2,300 small reefs that come together to make the Great Barrier Reef. The name is a bit misleading, but granted the Great Barrier Reefs just doesn’t have the same ring to it. The reefs were so many colors and shapes and sizes that these in itself would have been worthy of the jump into the cool water. However, seeing the rainbow fish and sea slugs and other members from the cast of Finding Nemo was remarkable and I simply did not want the experience to end. However, it was getting a bit chillier with the wind, so it was time for our final destination.
We headed over to a private island that only the company we booked through is allowed to stop at. In fact, only 60 people are allowed on this island at a time. Here, I ordered a boozy hot chocolate and sat poolside while watching the wallabies hop around me. It’s kind of crazy that species like wallabies even existed on this tiny island. Don’t they get bored?? However, I suppose I can relate to them and their small hometown.
After taking a hot shower and freshening up, we walked back downtown to take advantage of the 20% discount our tour agency had provided us with for a local restaurant. Here, we linked up with some of the other girls from Canada and Chile that we’d met on the island tour that morning and after a nice dinner, we walked over to a hostel bar to hang out with some other travelers.
This place was quite the scene. To paint the picture for you, it was located basically in a backyard with a giant bonfire, where a man dressed up in a panda suit carrying a smaller panda (claimed it was bring your kid to work day) was handing out prizes from a garbage bag with another man dressed as a pirate. I tried to throw one of their aboriginal boomerangs (AKA the green plastic dollar store boomerang) and I did get it to bounce back…….However, that’s only because it bounced oddly on the pavement–but, hey, a win’s a win! The people here were young and from all over the world so we had heaps of fun dancing the night away.
On our last day, we woke up early and went downtown to grab some brunch before heading off for our last adventure. We ended up lucking out again, as two women AND two dogs (Cooper and Taco) chose the table next to us. We struck up a conversation with them and turns out these two women (about 60 years old) were cousins and were taking a van up the coast with their fur babies; talk about a retirement plan!
They were very kind and wished us good luck on the rest of our travels. After brunch, we walked over to Jubilee Pocket to attend a unique and personal wildlife experience that we’d booked through Airbnb.
Airbnb Wildlife Experience
Our host, Kerry, had been a wildlife carer for over 15 years and had young Prosperine Rock Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroo Joeys in her care. She invited us in to cuddle them, as they are very needy animals and want all the love they can get. As the fur babies (the ones that’ve learned to walk) were hopping around us, Kerry let us hold them and even feed them with their bottle, which each one gets about 6 of per day.
She practically had 4 newborns! This experience lasted about an hour and a half and she talked the whole time, sharing all of her knowledge of the amazing animals with us and even personal stories about how each one had come into her care and some of the touching stories about releases. Once again, I really didn’t want to leave! Kerry also rents out her place as an Airbnb home, so next time I might have to book that instead, as saying goodbye to Binx was a heartbreak in itself.
After saying our goodbyes, we picked up some açaí bowls and headed to the pool to spend our last day relaxing.
After watching the sun set from the balcony, we went to this mouthwatering Italian restaurant for some high quality gnocchi and cabernet before finishing the night off with something sweet–it was obligatory. After packing up the last of my things, I headed back to the port and caught the bus to my next location: Cairns.