Airlie Beach & The Whitsundays – Tropical Paradise
Sail on the warm winds through 74 islands in the very heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Drop anchor and discover white secluded beaches. And, of course, dive the heart of the enormous Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsunday Islands are the essential experience for anyone who is fascinated by coral reefs and all seekers of paradise.
Airlie Beach is often the starting point for Whitsundays holiday makers with its bustling village atmosphere, teaming with divers and tourists from around the world. There are marine biologists, novice Japanese students, partying European backpackers, North American honeymooners, Aussie families, Kiwi sailors and more. It pumps with enthusiasm as people take to the reef by day and party the night away.
There is a large range of accommodation from stylish resort hotels on the water to serviced apartments on the hillside, from boutique bed and breakfast to backpacker hostel, camping sites and caravan parks. The town achieves a gentle balance between luxury and adventure that gives is kind of a loveable laconic feel.
If you aren’t sure what part of the reef or island to head to first, there’s plenty of advice being swapped on the beach and in cafes. Travel agents and tour guides offer option to Jet Ski or kayak through the tropical islands. Or for a bird’s eye hire a seaplane, helicopter or a sky dive.
If you or one of your loved ones aren’t crazy about using your sea legs or don’t fancy getting wet to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef, underwater viewing chambers, glass bottom boats and coral semi-submersibles offer an alternative.
Sailing and Diving the Great Barrier Reef
Set sail in the warm waters powered by the gentle breeze of the Coral Sea. As the mainland fades behind you, the grandeur of the sea looms and soon engulfs you. Take a deep sea breath and enjoy the freedom of being master of the sea.
Most of the Whitsunday Islands are uninhabited and it’s easy to find an unspoilt white beach to pull into.
It’s time to take the plunge. The Great Barrier Reef is home to tens of thousands of species of brilliantly coloured fish and coral reef species. There is an infinite variety of inconceivably beautiful colours that can only be seen in this alternative underwater world.
There are 1,400 coral reef fish species and 630 species of star fish to mesmerise you. There are also 14 species of sea snakes.
Watch out for one of the seven species of marine turtles with their gawky determined as they paddle the tide. Then there are the 133 eerie shark species looming about (harmlessly). The graceful rays seem to gently flap, float and hover like spaceships. Thousands of exotic creatures go about their daily lives among the reef before your very eyes.
Back on the boat keep your eyes peeled for some of the 30 species of whales and dolphins that are known to frolic and entertain tourists.
Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island also offer a base for fishing charters to the waters of the outer Great Barrier Reef. Keen fisherman can chase tuna, mackerel and coral trout. But most sailfish and all the legendary black marlin will have to be tagged and released. The Great Barrier Reef is a giant protected marine park, after all.
Sleeping on the Whitsunday Islands
For families and romantics, sleeping on the islands is a great all-inclusive choice while exploring the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday region. Most of the island resorts are fringed by coral reefs at their doorstep and all have the translucent sands and lapping lagoons just waiting to be lazed in. Just eight islands offer accommodation but they do it with style and precision. There are eco-style, family friendly, activity based (golfing, fishing), food and wine focused or pure luxury.
The Last Dot in the Sand
You might be wondering what can surpass what you’ve already seen and experienced on the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef. The answer- Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven Beach is widely considered be one of the most beautiful on the planet- if not the most beautiful. It stretches for seven stunning kilometres of perfection. The sand is almost 100% silica which gives it the lucid white that looks completely surreal against the blue sea. Stepping ashore and sinking into the powder-fine sand, you’ve reached paradise. Search over.