Whitsundays: Swirls of Silica Sand & Crystal Blue Water
Whitsundays National Park, a collection of beautiful islands off the central coast of Queensland, is one of the top destinations for tourists traveling to Australia. And it's no wonder as this place is a paradise of swirling white silica sand and crystal blue waters. From the first time we saw photos of Whitsundays, we knew we had to see it.
From Cairns to Airlie Beach (jump off town for Whitsundays) we drove about 8 hours plus some extra time for stops. The drive was very fun; we enjoyed the beautiful Queensland scenery while listening to some podcasts and music (and singing old Backstreet Boys songs). We also saw plenty of kangaroo roadkill at different stages of decomposing. This was the first time during our travels that we had to book a hotel as there were no Airbnb apartments available. We were able to score a super huge condo apartment with a large living area and a balcony where wild parrots visited us. There were also two beautiful pools on premises (one of them infinity) which we had pretty much to ourselves as no one was really using them. This place was a bit pricier than our usual Airbnb spots but it was well worth it as the views and accommodations were very nice.
On our first night in Airlie Beach we went our for a beer and listened to some live music at Magnums, a local hostel which has a bar and a restaurant attached to it. We wrapped the night by watching Die Hard With A Vengence in our hotel room.
The next day, October 15, 2014, we woke up sort of early (7 am) for our tour to the Whitsundays. After reading some blog posts (like this one) and getting feedback from few friends we decided to book a tour with Ocean Rafting. This company has small semi-rigid inflatable boats that can get to shallow waters so you get the best chance of seeing Whithaven Beach and Hill Inlet, even when the conditions are not perfect. The price for this 7 hour adventure was 150 AUD (including lunch) per person. Quite steep but that's around the price you have to pay for most daily attractions in Australia. Unfortunately, there are almost no ways of seeing these beautiful places without booking tours. At the end of the day we felt like the money was very well spent as we got to see a beautiful spot, had lots of time to eat and relax at Hill Inlet. The two crew members were very friendly and knowledgable and we shared this experience with less than 20 people.
The first part of the trip was snorkeling in two spots. We saw beautiful and vibrant coral reef and colorful fish of different sizes. At one point, right before getting back to the boat, I saw a huge fish that looked like a shark and got a bit scared. The crew assured me that there were no sharks in this area. However, I was still very happy when both Vlad and I were back in the boat and on the way to Whitsundays beach. Once we got there, we took a quick hike to the top of a hill to see the spectacular view of Hill Inlet. The swirling white sand and blue water was one of the most beautiful sights we have ever seen. We could hardly wait to get to the sand bar.
Once we got to the white sand beach we had our lunch and had to fight off a few seagulls that were hungry for some potato salad. The sand in Whitsundays has the smallest particles in the world. Walking on it felt different than on regular sand; it sort of felt like walking in mud in parts where the sand was covered with water. We were informed that this was one of the best places to polish one's jewelry so I polished my Polish amber ring. Ha, see what I did there?
Without further adieu, here are the photos of this gorgeous place. My words cannot do it justice.
This was a long day of driving. Thankfully the views were interesting and we stopped frequently to rest.
Spectacular mountains arose on the horizon shortly after we left Cairns. Even though we were warned against bad roads in Queensland (due to frequent flooding) all the highways were in perfect conditions. Here is our blue Hyundai i20 rental car at a rest stop.
At the Big Mango. Surprisingly, these type of giant statues are very popular along certain roads in Australia. Aside from this spectacular fruit, there's also the Big Shrimp, Big Lawnmower, Big Banana and many more. The first one of these big things was the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour which was built by an American.
This was our studio apartment, the only non Airbnb place we stayed at (aside from previous stays with friends and family). It turned out to be great and super huge. The bathroom had a nice bath tub and opened up to the bedroom.
We also had a large balcony frequented by this pretty visitor.
This was the picturesque port where we waited to board our raft. Before we got to Hill Inlet we stopped at two spots for some snorkeling. There were plenty of colorful smaller fish in the water as a well as few large ones that looked pretty scary. It was really fun to swim amongst the fish. We finally stopped on the shore of the Whitsunday Island and went for a 15-20 min hike to a top of a hill from which we saw the Hill Inlet.
Vlad and Carl, an Aussie guy we befriended on this tour.
The hike was fairly easy, even in flip flops. First glimpse of Hill Inlet, where tides shift white sand and blue water to create the most perfect swirls. Full view. Still can't believe we saw it.
Looks like a fairy tale. <3 Beautiful swirl.
As you can tell we were super happy to be there. We admired the view from the hill and were excited at the thought of being on the white sand in just half an hour.
After a quick boat ride we landed on the white pure silica sand which was super soft. When in the water, the sand almost felt like mud and we were sinking in it a bit. The sand particles are the tiniest in the world. In fact they are so tiny that you can polish your jewelry with it (which I of course did). We heard that years ago NASA used this sand to make telescopes but that story remains unconfirmed. Ocean Rafting provided a delicious lunch for us which we ate on the beach while avoiding seagulls who tried to steal our food. Exploring the strip of white sand.
I must have died and gone to white sand heaven.
Yeap, this soft sand just doesn't feel real.
I couldn't get enough of this place. Refreshing Australian beer really hit the spot. Vlad took a quick dip in the crystal blue water. He did not part with his beer. Before we left we spotted a hawk in the air.
And took one last selfie ;)
The next day we spent at the pool and of course planning the next part of our trip.
As you can see Australia is truly a beautiful country. Too bad it's so far from North America.
Thank you Vlad and Edyta for your awesome blog and gorgeous pictures. I'm learning a lot reading your Australia posts and can't wait to go to all 3 places you guys went, WhitSyndays, Sydney, and Blue Mountains. Your blog is very informative, thank you for all the background. I'm even more excited to see these places now!
Ahh my favorite place in the world, glad you got to see it in person :) that thing you saw wasn't a shark it was most probably a sting ray, there are loads of them around there...so scary almost stepped on some!
The Hill Inlet beach looks UNREAL ... ! The combination of crystal clear blue water + the pearly white sand is amazing. The infinity pool is not too shabby either - let's just say I wouldn't kick it outta bed... Looks like you guys discovered another gem in the world:)
Side beer n00b question - is Foster's considered the BudLight of Aussie beer? Thoughts?
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