When visiting the Whitsunday region, no one is allowed to leave without going for a sailing trip and a visit to the crystal clear aqua waters and pristine white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach, so why not combine them two into a single day trip? With the costs involved to be able to appreciate the beauty of this region, it makes even more sense and is budget and time friendly. We booked ourselves on a Southern Cross sailboat, discarding all the other means of transport to Whitsunday Island over a real sailing boat.
If you are going sailing in the region anyway and would like to visit the best beach in Australia and TOP 5 in the world by something other than a sailboat, try a speedboat with Ocean Rafting or maybe a seaplane or a helicopter for a spectacular view of Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet instead, before indulging in a picnic on a private part of the seven km long beach.
“The Southern Cross is a racing legend, being built for the America’s Cup as Australia’s 4th Challenger, with Sail number KA4 and beating the competing nation to win the right to race against Americans at Newport Rhode Island. Today, while Southern Cross still holds the spirit of a racing yacht, modifications have been made to make it comfortable for guest charters.” – Southern Cross Sailing Adventures
We board the Southern Cross at 8 am from Abel Point, the largest marina in North Queensland with 507 berths. (Opt-in for a coach pick up from your accommodation if you don’t want to pay for parking.) Before we knew it, we were all on board enjoying our morning tea and spectacular views of the surrounding islands. The weather was not windy, so motors had to be used to get to our first destination in Tongue Bay on Whitsunday Island through the Hook Passage. We were allowed to set up the sails a few times during our trip, to still be able to feel and learn how a sailboat works. With the assistance from the crew, passengers were pulling up and lowering the sails.
Once in Tongue Bay, using the tender, we were transferred in groups over to the beach and then guided up a short, but beautiful walk that winds through woodland and dry rainforest leading to Hill Inlet Lookout positioned along the northern end of the beach. This is where we got to take in the spectacular view of Australia’s number one beach and marvelled at the shimmering swirling sands covered by crystal clear waters. This is where the tide shifts the sand and the water creating a beautiful, swirling fusion of colours.
At the southern end of the beach are fringing coral reefs, as well as facilities for day visitors including toilets. You can also spend the night under the stars in the allocated camping spots with a permit. Read more about the costs and travelling included with camping on the Whitsunday Islands from my previous post about Airlie Beach.
After the Hill Inlet Lookout, we all made our way down to the beach for an hour, chasing stingrays and turtles while marvelling at the white silica sand. The pristine white beach consists of the purest (98%) silica sand in the world. It doesn’t retain heat and has a fine powder-like consistency-even scientists don’t know how to explain the sand getting to this location. The fine sand can damage electronic equipment such as telephones and cameras, but is also great for polishing jewellery. Some say the sand from Whitehaven Beach has been used in the glass manufactured for the Hubble Telescope. (Most likely a myth.)
Reluctantly our time was up and we had to make our way back to the sailing boat moored in Tongue Bay for a delicious smorgasbord lunch while making our way to the snorkelling destination. Everybody had to wear a stinger suit and is provided with a snorkelling set. Us being scuba divers, we brought our own personal gear including fins, what some passengers thought were meant to be given out for everyone. Due to the eco-certification and the nature of this tour, no fins are provided to help protect the reef from inexperienced snorkelers breaking the corals with their fins. The water was a bit too cold for my liking, partly because of the tropical storm that hit the area the previous day and the snorkelling site was unfortunately dull and not what I expected with low visibility and broken and bleached coral scattered everywhere on the seabed. If you can, try snorkelling or scuba diving on the outer reef instead.
Around 3:30 pm we set sail for Airlie Beach, switching off the engine and by the power of the wind sailing across the Whitsunday Passage. The crew served fruit and cheese platters and BYO alcohol was from then on allowed to be consumed. Bring cash for $2 soft drinks or even better, bring your own refreshments. Some of us were allowed to try to steer the boat while others relaxed on the deck, taking in the spectacular views of the surrounding islands.
This is something everyone should experience when in the area and for $139 per person, Southern Cross Day Tour is the cheapest and the best way of getting that visit to Whitehaven beach along with sailing Whitsunday Islands ticked off from the bucket list! Unless you can afford an overnight sailing trip, this is great value for money and time. I am already planning my next visit along with a stay on Hamilton Island and an overnight sailing trip with scuba diving on the outer reef. PS! This is not a sponsored post and all the opinions are my own.
Have you ever been sailing around Whitsunday Islands? What was your experience like? If not, would you ever go? Let’s talk in the comments!
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