Posts Tagged ‘Whitsundays’

Whitsunday Islands

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

So…our travel journal ended with Noosa Heads.  That means it lasted all of four days (out of 20), which is four more days than any of our other trips.

We always enter any extended vacation with grandiose ideas of writing in our journal everyday to document each passing day of our vacation.  And with each passing vacation, we never complete a full journal.

However, that’s not to say I don’t have notes and specific memories of our honeymoon that I will eventually write down and document.  But for now, here are some memories of the Whitsunday Islands…(Carins and Bora Bora to come)

So after spending a few days in Noosa Heads, we took a flight up the eastern coast of Australia to Arlie Beach, from there we would embark on our 3-hour tour, our 3-hour tour…err, I mean our 3-day sailing tour of the Whitsunday Islands.

When we initially looked into doing a sailing tour of the Whitsundays, there were obviously a lot of options.  Everything from 2-day catamaran tours to 5-day large boat diving tours.  We eventually settled on doing the 3-day maxi sail boat tour.  You know how race horses, after they’ve reached their prime and are put out to pasture to live out their remaining days, these touring companies have sail boats operating in the same manner.  These maxi sail boats are the same sailing yachts that are raced in well-known regattas (e.g., The America’s Cup), then when their time is due, the yachts are retired and put into the touring industry to live out their days.  Then tourists like us come onboard and make a mockery of her distinguished racing heritage (j/k).  One of the things that made the maxi boat tours unique, was having the option of help crewing the yacht.

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Anyway, we spent 3-days and 2-nights aboard the Silent Night.  I thought it was fun — putting up the sail, letting the wind power us through the sea, reaching up to 8.5 knots (that’s ~10mph for ye yellow-bellied land-lovers).  Which doesn’t seem that fast, but it’s a decent speed, especially with the wind blowing in your face.  As much as I enjoyed it, Miriam didn’t seem to be sharing my enthusiasm at first.  For her, it was a bit cold, and sleeping overnight on the boat took some getting used to.  Also, given that it was a free-moving boat, there wasn’t underground plumbing with renewable water supply.  Basically the crew brought onboard two large drums of water, and that was our usable water supply for the three days for everything from drinking, to cooking/washing dishes, to flushing the toilet, to the shower.  So rationing, particularly warm water shower rationing was implemented.  That wasn’t such a highlight for Miriam.  She pretty much likened the whole experience to camping, but on water.  Sleeping accommodations were a tad better than sleeping in a tent in a sleeping bag (instead of hard ground, you get swaying water and sounds);  the lack of freedom to clean/bathe was akin to griminess of wilderness camping; sitting on deck around the cooler during the night after dinner was akin to sitting around the campfire at a campsite.

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Despite some of the drawbacks, I think we both agree the experience was worthwhile — the fellow travelers we befriended onboard, the amazing views of the islands from the boat, the clear waters and white sands of Whitehaven Beach, the fun of snorkeling.

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After our 3-day tour, instead of only touring the islands by sea (which by the way, there are apparently over 74 islands in the Whitsundays, not all of which are populated, some being just land masses) we spent a night on one of the islands, Hamilton Island.  Back in my youth, there used to be a television show called, “Fantasy Island.”  (That show, whether purposely themed by the television executives, always followed a show, “The Love Boat”)  If ever there existed a real fantasy island, I would imagine based on logistics and activities, it would model after Hamilton Island.  Now there’s nothing too fancy about Hamilton Island, I mean it’s nice and has some amazing views, but being there, you just get the feeling you’re at fantasy island.  The whole island is like one big communal resort.  When you check into your room, you’re given a well-organized, detailed schedule of events of everything that’s going on on the island, not just your hotel, but the whole island, listed hour-by-hour.  Organized group activities for the kids, water activities for kids and adults, golfing, happy hour…you name it, they’ve got it.

And then, the island itself, there’s no cars.  Only golf-carts.  Golf carts everywhere.  Need to get from the hotel to the island’s restaurants…golf cart.  Need to get from the hotel to the golf course or animal sanctuary…golf cart.  Need to get from the hotel to the airport…golf cart bus (not really, but it is a small van, like those european mini vans).  It was quite amazing to see how many golf carts there were in such a condensed area.  It felt like everything got miniaturized and thus made walking a more viable mode of transportation.

Ironically, as I think about the whole Love Boat and Fantasy Island parallel, we just lived a re-enactment of the television programming schedule.  Whereas, instead of a love-finding match-making journey on a cruise ship to Puerto Vallarta, we had a 12-person sailing yacht around the Whitsundays.  Whereas, instead of a fantasy-fulfilling adventure island with a midget, we had an island full of mini golf-carts.  Oh, the Whitsundays.

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To view more pictures from the Whitsunday Islands, visit the Photos.