The Whitsunday Islands is a hotspot for tourists of Australia, all year round. However, often you are transported off onto tailor made trips that incapsulate the magic of the islands in two to three days, and miss out on some once-in-a-lifetime moments this place has to offer. As a resident of the Whitsunday Islands for a year and a half now, I decided to write about my top ten experiences that would be stupid to miss.
Become best friends with ‘George’, the resident Humpheaded Maori Wrasse of Mantaray Bay, Hook Island. George is known to be the friendliest fish in the Whitsundays, approaching the boats as soon as you pick up the mooring, along with his team of batfish, giant trevally, and yellow tailed fusiliers. Humpheaded Maori Wrasse are native to this part of the world, with the Napoleon Wrasse native to European shores. It is common to find one dominant male in each cove, with a long line of wives to follow. Interestingly enough, when the dominant male dies, the dominant female takes over the role, changing her sexual organs and colouring from black to the stunning greeny blue of the larger male fish.
Set your eyes to the skies, and keep a watch on the eagles soaring over the hill tops of the islands as you cruise past.
Take a distant glimpse, or experience first hand, the world exclusive One and Only resort, Hayman Island. Currently, with a minimum of three nights stay, the best deal is $1200 per night, sky rocketing to extortionate amounts to stay at their exclusive villa on the cliff face. A regular attraction for the stars, it is said that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie spent their honeymoon there
Keep an attentive eye on the horizon for humpback whales in mating season, May to September. Hot spots are located in the Whitsunday passage, the top of Hayman island and through the Molle passage. Mating season is migration time, when the mothers take their new borns to safer waters. The dramatic display of breaches and fin slaps are an attraction method for the patient males. While snorkelling you may even be fortunate enough to hear underwater whale song from miles away.
Wade in the shallows of the north end of Whitehaven beach with juvenile lemon sharks and sting rays. The mangroves that line the shallow edges of Whitehaven beach, are used as a playground for the juvenile sharks, that can actually grow up to 7ft long.
Snorkel with our best friend the green turtle, or catch them taking a lunch break in Tongue Bay, Whitsunday Island. Tongue Bay, the gateway to Whitehaven Beach, had a bed of seagrass and is known as a hot spot for some of the largest green turtles you will ever clap eyes on. Diving for around 20 minutes at a time, the turtles feed then come up to take a breather before diving back down again. You must be quick to spot these gentle giants.
Witness the most spectacular display of the constellations in the night sky from the front deck. With the lack of light pollution, the stunning night sky above the Whitsunday Islands, allows you to see the milky way through your own eyes.
Find solitude on the hidden gem, Betty’s Beach, at the very north end of Whitehaven beach. With a passage around a set of rocks nestled at the very north of the 7km stretch of Whitehaven, this private paradise has the same white sand but no people in sight.
During night-time, watch dolphins frolic in the blue lights of your boat. On most catamaran vessels, there are blue underwater lights that attract the small oceanic micro-organisms, which ultimately attracts the larger fish and squid. Once there is an adequate collection of squid, the feasting begins. Dolphins and sharks twirl through the lights, putting on a dramatic display of hunting skills, with some intentional entertainment thrown in as well. It is not uncommon for the new borns to come for dinner also.
Last but definitely not least, wallow in the spectacular view of the hill inlet and Australia’s no.1 beach, Whitehaven. The third most photographed place in Australia, is home to some of the purest and whitest sand you will ever sink your toes in to. The stunning volcanic sand swirls of hill inlet are never the same, the current dragging them in and out in different patterns every single time. Instagram heaven!