It was 6:45am, and I woke up to catch the sunrise. I climbed out of bed and made my way up to the top deck. With a cup of hot tea in hand, the air was crisp and the only noise came from the nature that surrounded us. The sun began to rise slowly, changing the color of the sky every moment it rose higher. I was at peace, and every breath that I took felt heavenly. Ahhhh this is the life. This was sailing the Whitsundays onboard the Whitsunday Blue.
A wedding took us to Airlie Beach, so months prior I started planning the trip to the tropical North Queensland. Sailing the Whitsundays has been on my bucket list for a while, and so I knew that this was my opportunity to tick it off.
There was a lot to research, with so many different boats to choose from. From monohulls to catamarans to tall ships – it quickly became a bit confusing as to which boat to book. We knew we wanted at least 2 nights sailing, we wanted a catamaran, we didn’t want too many people on-board, and we didn’t want to be on a party boat. And so, I connected with Sailing Whitsundays, a local travel agency who specialise in day and overnight sailing adventures in the Whitsundays. After chatting with them, we finally made our decision to book ourselves onto the Whitsunday Blue.
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Sailing the Whitsunday Blue Catamaran
The Whitsunday Blue is a 42ft Lagoon Catamaran, that sleeps a maximum of 8 guests and 2 crew members. The Whitsunday Blue is a custom French built catamaran, which has four private double cabins. Three of the cabins has its own private ensuite, while the fourth cabin has a separated bathroom, which is shared with the crew.
While the catamaran is about 16 years old, it has been well-kept and maintained. The cabins are quite spacious, with the beds being actually quite comfortable. On the front of the Whitsunday Blue catamaran are twin forward nets, which make for a perfect spot to lounge and sunbake, or to sit and admire the sunset. On the other side is a great shaded deck area, which houses a dining table that can sit up to 6 people. From the back, you can make your way inside the catamaran, where there’s another dining table, and the kitchen area.
The Whitsunday Blue sails all-year round. Their 2 night tours run every Tuesday and Thursday, while there is a 3 night tour which runs every Saturday. They sail off at 3pm from the marina, and return by 12pm. And whilst its all-year round sailing, the summer months seem to be the most popular. However….
The best time of the year to sailing the Whitsundays is during the Australian winter months (May to August). While the weather is cooler, the sun is still out and the skies are beautifully blue. Plus it’s not stinger (jellyfish) season – yay! Yes the summer months are more popular, however it is also stinger season. Plus from February till April it rains more often, with cyclones also forming during these months.
Our Experience Sailing the Whitsundays
This was a dream come true.
I know it sounds like I might be exaggerating, but truly I am not. The Whitsundays really turned on the weather during our trip, and it made for fantastic sailing. And the nature that surrounds the islands is incredibly beautiful, which so many conservation efforts in place to ensure that the beauty of the Whitsundays is maintained.
Because the Whitsunday Blue only sleeps up to 8 people on-board, you get a more personalized experience. And because it is a catamaran, the sailing is more comfortable.
To hop onto the Whitsunday Blue, you will need to make your way to the Abell Point Marina, which is located at Airlie Beach. The best way to get here is to fly into Prosepine Airport (PPP), which is about a 30 minutes’ drive to Airlie Beach.
Every trip is slightly different depending on the winds and weather condition, but here is our itinerary to give you an idea of what you could be experiencing.
At 3pm we board the Whitsunday Blue at Abell Point Marina. After a quick orientation of the boat, we began our sail past South and North Molle Islands and Daydream Island.
We then sailed through the Hook Pass, which his between Hook Island and Whitsunday Island. After a dramatically beautiful sunset, we found anchorage at Cairn Beach for the night.
We rose bright and early to catch the sunrise, and enjoy a hearty breakfast at 7am. Shortly after breakfast, we jumped off the boat and snorkelled along the reef at Cairn Beach.
Once we were done snorkelling, we have morning tea ready, and we made the sail over to Peter Bay. Peter Bay overlooks Dumbell & Border Islands, and offers another great spot for snorkelling.
Then from Peter Bay, we headed to Tongue Bay. We enjoyed lunch on the boat at Tongue Bay, before we hoped onto the dingy to make it over to land. On land, we hiked over to Whitehaven Beach where we spent several hours enjoying this amazing part of the world.
From Tongue bay, we sailed back through the Hook Pass – sailing into the sunset. We then made our way to the Nara Inlet where we anchored for the night.
Another bright and early morning enjoying the sunrise and breakfast, before we hoped off the boat to snorkel at Nara Inlet. This was definitely my favorite spot for snorkelling. The coral reef is really thriving here – it almost feels like a rainforest of coral. Just stunning!
We spent the early part of the morning snorkeling and paddling around, then mid-morning we started to make our way back towards Abell Point Marina.
6 Highlights Onboard the Whitsunday Blue
We had Aaron who was our Skipper, and Rachel who was our Host, and they were both fantastic. They were extroverted and really made such an effort to ensure everyone felt comfortable throughout the trip. Aaron was so knowledgeable about the waters at the Whitsundays and in the evening he would give us a debrief about where we had gone that day, along with plenty of information about the marine life. Truly, because of such a fantastic crew, we had an amazing trip. They took away any hassle and everyone was so calm and at peace. A special thank you definitely goes to Aaron and Rachel for all their efforts!
Whilst part of the trip we did have to motor, we also go to experience getting the sails up. We were able to bring out the sails a number of times during our trip and it was wonderful. While we weren’t breaking any speed records, we still managed between 5-8 knots sailing.
It was just so peaceful sailing along the waters, enjoying the breath-taking views of the islands that surround the Whitsundays. We also got to ‘sail into the sunset’ one evening, which was magical. Without the motor running, the sailing was nice and quiet, and the only noise was from the nature around us.
Talking about getting to ‘sail into the sunset’ – ahhhh the sunsets at the Whitsundays. I recall some of my favorite sunsets being in Indonesia, including Bali and Pulau Weh… but wow Whitsundays definitely makes the top list.
The sky first turns a lovely pale yellow and blue, before a striking burnt orange marks the end of the day. And as the sun make its way down behind the hill, lovely pink and violet hues fill the sky. It’s truly such a magical experience watching the sunset onboard a catamaran.
On our 2 night trip on Whitsunday Blue, we managed to get into three snorkelling sessions. And wow was it ever-so-beautiful!
The last time I saw any decent coral whilst snorkelling and diving was when I got my diving license in Egypt at El Quesir along the Red Sea…until now! After over 12 years, I finally got to see some incredible coral reefs.
We explored the reefs at Cairn Beach, Peter Bay and Nara Inlet. All were quite different, and it was amazing to see such thriving reefs. I really have to commend the Whitsundays for doing a fantastic job making sure to conserve the reefs and educating visitors about how to snorkel without destroying the reef.
Whitehaven Beach is one of the top beaches in the world, and for very good reason. It is unspoiled and has retained so much of its natural beauty, despite the cyclones that have come over the area over the years.
Stretching across 7km, what makes Whitehaven Beach so special is its soft and impeccably white sand. It is so special that there’s a hefty fine of A$10,000 if you are caught trying to bring home some sand with you. The white sand is made up of 98% pure white silica, thus giving it is brilliant white color…which looks ohhh so magnificent against the turquoise blue waters.
We sailed over to Tongue Bay, where it was a short walk to Whitehaven Beach. We got to spend a couple of hours at the beach, then we took a short hike up to the Hill Inlet, the lookout which offered dramatic views over Whitehaven Beach.
Eating & Drinking
At first I didn’t really know what to expect when it came to the food, but it definitely blew me away. Our host, Rachel, was a fantastic chef and she whipped up delicious meals for us.
On our trip all meals were included, so in total we enjoyed 2 breakfasts, 2 morning teas, 1 lunch, 2 afternoon teas, and 2 dinners. From BBQ steak and chicken, to canapes, to antipasti, to delicious salads, to pancakes…there was so much food to indulge in after a full day of activity. It was great and there was so way anyone on the boat was ever going to go hungry. And well if you did go hungry, don’t worry, the boat has you covered! There are cookies and fruit along with tea and coffee available at all hours.
No alcohol is provided, except for the welcome sparkling wine. But that’s no hassle because before you board, you can purchase alcohol from the local liquor store at Airlie Beach. You are allowed to bring wine, champagne, and canned beer on board, avoiding taking any bottled beer because of the glass.
Soooooo worth it! We loved this trip and can’t wait to do it all over again. Exploring the Whitsundays is best done on at least a 2-night sailing trip…we actually wished we would have booked ourselves on the 3-night tour as we totally could have done an extra night.
If you are after a more intimate and personalized experience sailing, without any hassle of cooking and navigating, then I highly recommend booking yourself on the Whitsunday Blue. This is not a party boat for young backpackers, but rather focuses on the peace and calm of sailing the Whitsundays. So when you are planning your next Whitsunday holiday, I highly recommend looking into doing a sailing trip of the Whitsundays.
To book, I recommended checking out Sailing Whitsundays, who can also offer great guidance as to the right boat depending on your needs. The Whitsunday Blue starts at A$700 (U$520 | RM2,000) per person, plus or minus depending on the season. This includes a full-serviced sailing trip which includes all meals, all snorkeling gear, crew on-board for 2 nights. For a 3-night trip, packages start at A$850 (U$630 | RM2,560) per person.
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