I arrived at the Airlie Beach Abel Point marina to find over 100 people waiting to board their boats, there were 3 or 4 boats sailing that day, it was a great experience to get to know fellow travellers interested in the Whitsunday islands, we all signed the relevant paperwork and were sent aboard, after we were allocated our beds and stored our luggage we were then taken onto the deck and advised of the itinerary for the next two days and of course we had a safety briefing.
We sailed on New Horizon to the first stop, Hook Passage where we would dock for the night, we were given our evening tea, which was delicious, cod, choices of salad, mashed potato and enough seconds for some people, after everyone had firsts!
We then took advantage of the BYO and got a little drunk on the deck getting to know each other and sharing travelling experiences and generally having a laugh with people. The group on the boat clicked immediately, which was awesome, after this most people went to bed as we had a 6.30am start the next day, so we all wanted to be ready for an action packed adventure!
We had a nice breakfast the next day with a choice of fresh fruit, cereal and toast or all 3!
We then moved on to our first destination of the day, the world famous Whitehaven beach, we had about 2 hours to spend there.
It took about 20 minutes for us to do the inlet climb and when we arrived we were rewarded with panoramic views of the swirling sands of Whitehaven beach. It looked spectacular, heaven on earth with the contrasting turquoise sea against the clear blue skies and the whiteness of the sand, all the pictures I saw of this place did not do it justice even if they were photo shopped!
We then made our way down to the beach itself and with our stinger suits in hand, we zipped up and ran into the sea to cool off with the friends we had made on our boat and on the other boats before we set sail. We took a few photos of us doing human pyramids, with Australian flags and doing a human sign of 'New Horizon'.
After this people either walked some length of the beach to try and see stingrays in the sea or to soak up the sun before we headed back to the boat, stingrays were sighted and white fish in the sea, almost see through, that have adapted to the sea's clarity.
Waiting for the small boat to take us back to New Horizon we saw a turtle pass by the shallow waters of the beach, this was an awesome surprise, we later learned that there are 6 species of turtle in the world and the Whitsundays area is home to 5 of these, good news for us!!
The boat then sailed to Tongue Bay, north of Hook Island.
The snorkelling group was given flotation aids, if needed, and snorkelling gear, while the scuba divers got the boat to Maurines Cove and dived to see the inner reef, we saw bat fish amongst an abundance of marine life and the visibility was about 6 meters, very good for a 9 metre dive. The diving instructor was very patient and informative about safety, the gear and general do's and don'ts.
I would strongly suggest scuba diving whilst already on a sailing trip as it is cheaper than to go on another boat where the only purpose is to dive.
The divers then returned to the snorkelling site to continue with their activities, the boat had the waterslide out, diving board, and everyone was having great fun, doing backflips, front flips, dives, bombs and all sorts off the board, some were great, others not so, naming no names!!
There were reports that some people saw reef sharks during this stop, which would have been spectacular to see. People were using the slide as a great way to cool off and get into the sea if they weren't too sure to jump off the board.
The boat then sailed to Blue Pearl Bay, the north end of Hayman Island, where we would moor for the night. As people dried off, the staff started to cook the food, which was spaghetti bolognaise, the smell found its way around the deck of the boat and the hungry travellers were keen to get stuck in after an action packed day!
Food was served just at the right time as the sun was setting over the islands and Australia, everyone sat down to watch this amazing view, with the mirrorred image of the sun reflecting off the clear blue water. Dinner didn't last long and everyone then started to prepare for another evening of drinks and socialising. The group was even closer than before and it was a great night, with light drinking games and chit chat of various type.
Lights out at midnight which gave a small number of people the perfect chance to relax on the deck and take in the clear night sky and the stars, it was the ideal end to an excellent day.
The next day, unfortunately our last, we woke up early again to be greeted by the same filling breakfast, and we were perfectly located to jump in the clear water once more, the diving board was out again and the small boat took people to the coral and they could see just equally beautiful marine life, some people actually saw another turtle under water, the sightings were adding up.
We were then greeted with a morning snack of hotdogs, onions, sauces and bread with a number of fillings, while we got stuck in to the food the boat started its journey back to Abel Point Marina, the crew talked us through what locations we had been to and what marine life we saw, so we learned something on this trip too! It was the end of our trip, but the start of the after party, we were given free didgeridoo lessons at a local craft shop at 5pm, and then if we made our way to Phoenix Bar at 7.30pm for a $5 drink purchase you would get half a large dominos pizza, 1 per person, also $5 Jagerbombs every hour, this was a great way to party with the newly made friends, and some people from the other 3 boats were there, so it made the party even bigger!!
The crowd slowly made its way down Shute harbour road, going from bar to bar. The rest of the night will not be on this article, I'll leave your imaginations to fill in the rest, or go on the trip yourselves and make the experience your own! Enjoy, I'm sure you will.
Thank you to all the New Horizon crew for making it a unique and unforgettable experience, see you next time!