What better way to explore a set of breathtaking islands than by boat? I did just that in the Whitsunday Islands and will never forget the experience. 


view of Airlie Beach

Jenna Curtola


Arriving in Proserpine after being in rainy Sydney for so long was like a dream. The sky was blue, and the people just seemed happier. During the cab ride from Proserpine Airport to Airlie Beach, I looked out the window and took in the gorgeous scenery. Everything looks so different from my home in Wisconsin and even where I’ve been staying the last couple of weeks in Sydney. Riding along the coast, the water looks bluer than anything I have ever witnessed. I feel myself getting increasingly more excited to jump in.

After arriving in Airlie Beach, my 4 friends and I check in to Nomads Airlie Beach Hostel and wader down the gravel path to find our room. Everyone’s thrilled and excited energy is contagious. Although this may not be a five-star resort, we love it nonetheless. Besides, we plan to spend as much time in the beautiful outdoors as possible. 


Whitsunday islands at sunset


We leave the hostel for a short walk on the beach and a look at the cute little shops in the small downtown area. After spending probably too much money at the boutiques, we head down to Boaty’s, where Nomad guests get a discount. We order our food and sit outside to take in the warm air. The food is absolutely delicious, and the drinks are very affordable, so we stay and listen to their live performance’s powerful voice for hours. While Airlie Beach has several places to go out and have fun, our group is really looking forward to getting on a boat the next afternoon to see the islands up close. 


The next morning, the air is warm, and the energy is high yet again. We grab a quick breakfast and get down to the lagoon. With cool blue salt water rippling from the movement of other travelers, we determine this to be the perfect place to set up camp until we need to board the boat later in the afternoon. Kids run all around us, shouting in delight, and families smile as they follow the walking paths. Lying on my towel in the sand, I smile to myself. How could I not? I am completely content where I am, with my friends, in a blissful little town. 


Airlie Marina

Jenna Curtola


After baking in the sun for a couple of hours, we begin walking in our flimsy flip-flops down to the marina. We meet up with other backpackers and find some shade to relax in. Not long after we arrive, a crew member from True Blue Sailing leads us down to the Atlantic Clipper. The Clipper is a large blue and red boat with three levels. Being from Wisconsin, far away from any ocean, means I have never stepped foot on a boat this size. Exploring the inside is mindblowing to me. The boat is big enough for fifty people, although our group is just 28. 


Atlantic Clipper from beach

Jenna Curtola


Once we settle into our rooms, the rest of the first day is spent learning the rules and getting to know everyone we will spend the next few days with. We meet our crew comprised of Reggie, Karl, Kyle, Harry, and Alex. The other passengers are from all over the world, including France, England, Denmark, The Netherlands, and even Chile. After a couple of hours of socializing, the crew opens the slide, and we get to test the water. It is like ice, but we could not care less once we are all out swimming together. 


Whitehaven Beach


Much of the next day is spent the same, relaxing in the sun, swimming, and socializing with the other passengers. We stop by Whitehaven beach and explore the waters filled with manta rays and amazing light-colored sand. Kyle explains to us that this color is because the beach is 98% silica. Later we get geared up to snorkel and see coral billowing in the current and even a sea turtle gliding near the surface.

Next, Karl gives us a rundown on the extensive history of the islands, the indigenous people who first inhabited it, and the invasion by Captain Cook. Learning about the place we are enjoying so much makes us feel closer to the land and more appreciative of being there. I never want this day to end, and I certainly never want to leave this wonderfully peaceful area. 


Of course, our trip does have to come to an end eventually. The next day Reggie sails us back to Airlie beach, and we have to say farewell to our new friends. Looking back on the trip, I know I made many memories that I will not soon forget. The crew was welcoming, funny, and very helpful. The food was great (I LOVED the fish Alex prepared, and I seldom like fish), the water was wonderful, and the weather was perfect. 

The Whitsunday Islands are a must-see for anyone in Australia, and seeing it by boat seems to be one of the best ways to truly take it all in.

Looking for more adventures in Queensland? Check out this story on Port Douglas.

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