Day 5: WHITSUNDAYS
Julie and I slept in a little bit considering we still had one more night here and didn’t have to be on the move today. When we looked out the window, we were a little bit concerned about the presence of some patchy clouds that looked like tropical rain clouds, which might mute the colors of the tropics we were expecting to see at the Whitsundays today.
We were on a boat tour that had about 6 parties (5 of them couples, us included). There was a Colombian family, then the couples were Dutch, German, Spanish, and Irish. We were the only Americans. The boat ride seemed a little long, but the waters were nice and turquoise when the sun was out. Plus, we were conversing with the Dutch couple which made the ride go by a bit faster.
At about 11am, we finally arrived at the Whitsunday Island. Once we got off the boat (the waters were a bit choppy but the sandbars were quite long making the waters quite shallow), we then walked over to the overlook. However, we weren’t the only tour that was here at the same time. Actually, there was another tour before us who were taking turns at the circular lookout, and we all patiently awaited our turn.
When it was finally our turn, we beheld the expansive views of Whitehaven Beach. The blindingly white sandy beach actually made all my photos turn out a little dark (the camera overcompensated for the light). Contrasting the blinding white sands were blue-green waters kind mixed in with some sandbars which made the scenery quite the kaleidoscope of colors.
We couldn’t linger at the overlook because more people from other tour groups came in so the conveyor belt of camera-toting tourists had to keep moving.
Julie and I observed some interesting crabs and birds on sand. We even whiffed what we thought was the smell of sulfur, which we weren’t sure quite why or how that was at this island.
I didn’t realize it until Julie and I were headed towards the water and towards the awaiting tour boat as time here was almost up (12:15pm was the departure time). And finding those sunglasses on this extensive of a beach was not quite like finding a needle in a haystack but it was close.
Julie and I were quite amazed at how pristine this place was. I guess that could be attributed to the fact that this was a marine sanctuary. There was absolutely no development here other than the overlook, the trails, and the odd boats that come and go.
After our time was up, we boarded the boat though the boarding was a bit on the choppy side as we waded a little further out from the sandbars towards the boat. The boat was rocking quite a bit and for certain, everyone’s pants would get wet. Fortunately, we were wearing swimming shorts though we did have to be vigilant about my camera and things like the wallet and keys.
At about 2pm, the boat arrived at some spot called Mantaray Bay. There, the boat anchored and we were then told that this was a snorkeling spot. Julie stayed on the boat since she couldn’t swim and wasn’t sure about the somewhat choppy waters. I went in but had no good photos to show for it without an underwater camera. However, since Julie was on the boat, she did snap some photos of small reef sharks as well as some tropical fish.
The snorkel was definitely interesting because I spotted lots of coral and fish. Some of the corals were orange and blue. Some of them were even pulsating! This was definitely a bit more colorful than the Coral Bay experience of WA, but perhaps not as colorful as what we had been anticipating at the Great Barrier Reef, which was to be when we get up to Cairns.
After the snorkel session, we then headed back towards the mainland at around 3:30pm. On the way back, this time we were sitting right across from the German couple. At first they didn’t like us because we were Americans.
But when we started talking, and we were at first interrogated about how we could vote in Bush among other things, we told them that we didn’t vote for him nor did we subscribe to any of the things they didn’t like about Americans.
It was yet another case of us apologizing to the world, I guess just like during our New Zealand trip as well as our first Australia trip.
When we finally returned to the mainland and our lodge at Airlie Beach at 5pm. That was enough for the day, and Julie and I walked around town at night looking for a bite as well as to get a little more flavor of the Airlie Beach scene.