The Whitsundays are pretty. Really, really pretty.
Like I can’t even handle the pretty.
After all, there’s a reason I keep going back, and it’s not for the crocodiles. Just kidding, the salties are farther north, phew!
Few places for me are as beautiful or leave me speechless and blabbering like a teenager quite like Queensland, Australia. But I digress. On my last trip to Oz, I only spent 3 days in the Whitsundays, just enough to give me a taste for this beautiful land and leave me wanting more.
As someone who has traveled for a long time and whose travel style has changed and evolved rapidly and without control over the years, I’ve come to appreciate returning to places I’ve been before more and more frequently, getting to dig a little deeper, see it in a different light.
After all places are dynamic and the traveler is never quite the same person on every trip.
Anywho, here’s a little collection of snaps from 10 days in the Whitsundays that pretty much convinced me it’s paradise on earth. Enjoy!
1. View from the hotel on Hamilton Island
Imagine my happiness after 2 days of travel and no sleep to open my hotel room door to this balcony view! BAM!
I’ve said many times before, one of the most important factors in a hotel for me is the view. I’d say the Reef View Hotel on Hamilton Island definitely has ruined me for all other hotels. Probably.
I watched the sunrise and the sunset almost every day while I was here, and they were all stunning. I also loved the dramatic tidal flows and how much the color of the water changed. Can I go back now please?
2. Sunset catamaran sail
Since I was in the Whitsundays to learn to sail (more on that coming soon), we got to spend our first evening out and about on Hamilton Island sailing at sunset on a catamaran. Again, can my welcome to everywhere I travel involve a sunset sail from now on?
Pictured: Nate as King of the World. Sidenote, Nate is a helicopter pilot on Hamilton Island flying around the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef – best job in the world much? Can I get an amen?
3. Learning to sail! Look at that water!
I grew up around sailboats in Virginia but never actually properly learned to sail unless you count tying knots at girl scout camp every summer for a little 2 person sailboat.
Fast forward 15 years and I find myself on one of the most famous maxi yachts in the world – the Condor – so famous it even has a Wikipedia page (a personal goal of mine). Winning every major sailing race twice, the Condor now lives on Hamilton Island with ProSail, and you can charter her and learn to sail or enjoy sailing around the Whitsundays.
I mean look at that water! If that doesn’t make you want to book a flight to Queensland right now, I don’t know what will.
4. Cheeky sunset cockatoos
God, I love all the animals in Australia, even the scary ones.
Instead of a pigeon problem, like most of the known world, Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays are home to the beautiful cockatoo! What a beauty! It was mesmerizing to watch them sail and flat around from my balcony, and even make noises and try to talk to them at sunset. Or is that just me?
I love how they cock their heads to the side and look at you, it’s like they know. I also love how naughty they are, trying to hop into my room when my back is turned or steal my tea off the balcony.
As we say down under, cheeky buggers.
5. Cuddling a koala. Again.
Self-explanatory. No caption needed.
6. Low tide at sunset
One afternoon Matt, a local Queensland Instagrammer, and I headed down to the beach on Hamilton Island around sunset to wade around in the tidal pools, watch the canoes and squish our toes in the wet sand – is there anything better than that?
7. Sunset sailing part 2
Lounging on deck with a glass of wine in one hand and my camera in the other, I found myself in perfect peace and harmony as the sun began to set with the warm Whitsunday wind blowing through my hair. It was glorious.
It was also great catching up with one of my favorite Instagrammers, Pauly, who I met a few weeks before here in Wanaka!
Being on the water makes me so happy, what about you?
8. All aboard a luxury yacht
Our third day of sailing was on the stunning Papillon luxury yacht around the Whitsunday Islands. Before arriving in Queensland, I was under the impression that sailing was for billionaires only, and that most people owned their own boats.
Definitely not the case. Not only can you rent or charter a sailboat with friends and family, you don’t even really need to know how to sail first. From budget to luxury, there are many ways to make a sailing holiday happen if you’re interested.
Of course, now I am spoiled after spending a day lounging around the Papillon. Sigh.
9. Getting a taste for luxury on a yacht
God, I love seafood. I love seafood so much. I could eat seafood all day every day.
In fact, I ate seafood just about every day I was in the Whitsundays, on on the Papillon yacht was no exception.
Cue a fabulous lunch of prawns, oysters and some kind of yummy lobster animal common to the region.
10. Beach time on an uninhabited island
Of the 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays, only 8 are inhabited, leaving 66 untouched and free of humans.
I love that.
Traveling around in a sailboat means that you can get up close and personal with many of these islands and beaches one on one, swimming off the boat or scooting over to shore for a snorkel and tanning session. And the best part? Many of the bays and beaches have beautiful coral you can swim around as well. Heaven!
11. Sunset from the Hamilton Island Yacht Club
Our last night on Hammo, dubbed affectionately by locals, we headed over to the beautiful yacht club for a sunset cocktail (or 10).
You don’t have to be a member or anything but they have a beautiful outdoor deck that goes along the beach, the perfect place to camp out and enjoy the sea and sunset. Luckily we were treated to a few god rays, my favorite.
Give me a pretty place to watch a sunset and call me happy.
12. Airlie Beach palm trees
After Hamilton Island I headed back to Airlie Beach on the coast for 5 days to do a scuba diving course with Whitsunday Diving Academy. Highly recommended, I was determined to learn to dive in the Whitsundays, where I did an intro dive 4 months before and absolutely fell in love with the underwater world.
Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays and has palm trees galore, reminding you that you really are in paradise.
13. Getting my open water certificate in Horseshoe Bay
For anyone interested in diving, doing your PADI open water course, the first step in becoming a diver will allow you to dive to 18 meters or 60 feet before continuing your diving education.
It varies where you do it, but in the Whitsundays it’s usually 4-5 days. 1 day of the boring book tests where you learn about things like density and dive computers (which you can do online in advance) before doing 2 days of pool diving learning all the skills and then 2 days of diving in the open water on the high seas – or from a beach, like me.
At first I was really nervous but once it “clicked” it’s a great feeling. Diving is also a workout, and fell asleep every night around 8pm during the course. But it was so worth it, and now I can’t wait to explore the world underwater!
14. Back to Whitehaven Beach!
I saved the best for last!
My last morning in the Whitsundays I decided to take an impulse half day trip with Cruise Whitsundays out to Whitehaven Beach. Consistently ranked the most beautiful beach in Australia and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I could spend the entire trip here and go home happy THAT’S how beautiful it is.
With only a few other souls for company, I walked a ways down the 7km beach before finding the perfect spot in the sun to park myself on my town and doze all morning in a bikini.
Paradise is the Whitsundays.
15. Goodbye Whitsundays (for now)!
Have you been to the Whitsundays or have heard of it? Would you like to go sailing here? Is this what you pictured when you imagined Australia?
Many thanks to TEQ for hosting me in the Whitsundays. Like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!