When people think of the Whitsundays, they think of sand, sun, salt and white beaches that stretch for miles and miles! But what did we get in the Whitsundays? Rain, rain and more rain! Meaning I’ll have to go back one day!
The Whitsundays Weather and More!
With fairly average temperature throughout the year, you can get a variety of weather. For my adventure, it was raining, spitting down, with billowing clouds in the sky as I walked through the town of Airlie Beach on my way to the boat where I would spend the next two days. Two days of what should be white sand, turquoise water and sunshine. With a supposedly dry climate in August, I was ready to get my tan on in the middle of Australian winter in the amazing Whitsunday Islands!
Surprisingly the only sunshine we got was on Whitehaven Beach! The rest of our trip was pouring rain which was practically unheard of!
What are the Whitsundays?
The Whitsundays are a set of islands located off the coast of Queensland in Australia. There are 74 islands, but the most famous is Whitsunday island and Whitehaven Beach. When you see pictures of white sand and blue water in Australia, nine times out of ten it is this beach! Seriously!
Whitehaven Beach was rated as the 12th best beach in the world according to Trip Advisors best of 2016. Sadly, it didn’t make the 2018 list!
The Whitsundays are a result of Cretaceous volcanic activity as the water level rose over the last 50 000 years only the tops of the mountain peaks remain. They are there as scattered islands. Now, the islands are a mixture of sand, tropical rainforest and coral reefs. All there for your exploration.
The Famous Whitehaven Beach, Pure Paradise!
Whitehaven beach is 7km of pure white heaven, or 99% silica (quartz sand). This is one of the quintessential spots to see in the Whitsundays.
This silica sand has been broken down over time and deposited on the beach, giving it a squeaky sound as you walk and the whitest sand on earth. Quartz is one of the hardest minerals there is, rating an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, where a diamond is rated the top score of 10. A lot of work had to go into breaking down quartz pieces into this fine sand, this would have included erosion and water factors. However, in reality, the origins of the sand is still a mystery. No one knows exactly where it came from! Scientists have their theories, but no one can be certain of where this clean, pure beach really came from.
Upon stepping foot on Whitehaven beach you can see why tourists flock there all year round. It is pristine, the cleanest, whitest beach I have ever been to.
For kilometres around you see the bluest water and the sand you just want to jump in. The best thing about this beach is how different it is to any other beach in Australia, it’s uniqueness. Equally famous Bondi Beach, for example, is completely different.
Getting to Whitehaven!
Boats anchor on the other side of the Whitsunday Island and take you to land on a dingy. We saw a turtle swimming through the bay as we headed to shore. This route is taken to preserve the nature on the island, as it is a protected area and the Queensland government wants to keep the integrity of the beach and island. With Climate Change, pollution and rising oceans, there is only so much that can be done to protect these places. From there you walk through the trees to get to Whitehaven beach.
I was excited to see the tropical jungle and if you take a left turn at the fork you can go to the lookout where you can see the entirety of Whitehaven Beach. This is one of the best photo-op moments. I loved walking along the wooden boardwalk and seeing everything below.
The magical moment is stepping onto Whitehaven Beach. For me it was almost surreal as I took off my flip-flops prior to and dipped my toes in the sand, the sun peaking out from behind the clouds. Like magic!
As I previously said, the rain stopped for only our boat’s time on the beach. By the time we were back on our sailboat, the rain had started to pour down around us again and the moment was broken.
I laid out my towel and waded knee deep into the water and enjoyed every second on a beach that I’m not sure I’ll ever return to. It will be an experience I won’t forget. With so many beaches in the world, I think I can check a box off my bucket list, but I’m ready to experience the next one. I recommend this to anyone heading to Tropical Northern Queensland.
Other Amazing things in the Whitsundays
Doing a two-day tour (they range from 1-3), I remember the night we spent off the boat as clearly as if I was still there. We were anchored in the middle of the islands and the rain was trickling down, with sudden bursts of showers. There was no light around but the tiny dangling lights on the boat. You could look over the edge and see the pitch black of the water, which we were told was full of sharks. Though, thinking back maybe that was only a warning not to go night swimming.
Most people think of Whitehaven beach and the Whitsundays as the same thing and that’s what they go to see. However, depending on the tour you do you can see so much more! Most tours either go for one to three days. They allow you some time at Whitehaven Beach, meals, snorkelling on pieces of the lower Great Barrier Reef and kayaking. You’re always busy and entertained.
I was on an eco-tour on the SV Whitehaven. One thing I can say is the food is amazing! When I was on the Great Barrier reef for 3 days diving, I was basically on a starvation diet, where the only edible thing was the canned pineapple slices. I’m getting off topic…
Doing an eco-tour means that your boat is certified to do everything possible in order to preserve the natural environment and not do any damage to the Whitsundays. What is nice about this is that it not only allows you the knowledge that you are not doing any harm and leaving this beautiful place as it is but the crew also pop in some education on the subject. We also got a couple entertaining talks about the wildlife and history of the island. It added a perfect edge to the snorkelling, beaching and swimming.
We were able to go kayaking and snorkelling. All our water activities required the use of stinger suits even though it wasn’t stinger season. I assume the tour company was just being overly cautious, but I really didn’t want a jellyfish sting.
Getting to the Whitsundays is easiest from Airlie Beach. Their boats leave left, right and center every day. They leave early in the morning as it is about an hour or two to get to the Whitsundays, depending on the type of vessel to get there. Then the fun really begins!
Now, you can also get to the Whitsundays from Hamilton Island. Where, if you don’t feel like doing a tour you can take a self-guided kayak or raft trip. There are also resorts on some of the islands which you can check out!
Where to Stay In Airlie Beach
In Airlie Beach, there is a little family run hotel called Airlie Beach Apartments. Some of the rooms have been newly renovated and are amazing, though it still gets mixed reviews. I recommend it as a great place to check out Airlie Beach.
Where to Head After Airlie Beach
If this is part of your Queensland Trip you can do it before hitting the Great Barrier Reef or after. Your choice! But I really have to recommend it!