Today I’ll be taking you back to my time in Australia over Dec-Feb…
After our Fraser Island Tour and homeless night in Hervey Bay, Alice and I had the Whitsundays next up on our backpacker itinerary. We had gone almost seven weeks without using any travel agency or company to help book our activities (there are pros and cons to this but I personally hate booking with an agency and will not do so again – more on that another time). Alice and I had solely planned our trip ourselves but when it came to the Whitsundays, we weren’t entirely certain on the dates we’d be free to do this. In addition, for some reason, we weren’t sure which boats were meant to be good and we thought that travel agencies may be able to provide us with slightly better deals (we had looked online and the prices seemed steeper than we were expecting).
So after making a trip to backpackers world travel, we had ourselves booked in on New Horizon. The infamous Atlantic Clipper party boat didn’t really appeal to us as a) it appeared to us that the people on the boat drink all day and don’t fully experience the Whitsundays, and b) there were 50+ passengers which was too crowded for our liking. New Horizon is owned by the same company and is the sister boat.
The day rolled around and we made our way to the marina to be met by the crew at 2pm. We had checked in the day before at their offices in Airlie Beach and we had also been told that bags with zips were strictly not allowed. The reason for this was because they didn’t want bed bugs (I think it was bed bugs?) to be spread on board where we’d all be living. What were we supposed to do with our valuables?! Anyway, Alice and I went to the local Cotton On and grabbed ourselves two big canvas Christmas-themed bags for $1 each and packed everything we would need in those.
The good thing about New Horizon is that it is BYO alcohol so before boarding the boat we were asked by the crew to contribute $1 for ice. Most people (us included) had goon – if you don’t know what goon is, it’s a backpacker’s best friend. It’s essentially just very cheap wine.
Once on board, we were introduced to the crew members and told the plan for the afternoon. We were to sail into Hook’s Bay where we could go for a swim before anchoring for the night. There was also some admin where we had to sign forms saying we understood the risk of snorkelling as well as being assigned our beds: the people who knew each other already (i.e. me and Alice) were to share the double bunks while others got the single berths. Pictured below is the cabin arrangement (we were in the middle section) – the doubles are on the bottom with a single on top:
The journey to Hook’s Bay took about 2 hours so everyone just got to know each other while we enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
Once we arrived, we grabbed our stinger suits and jumped into the water. The crew even got the paddle-boats out so we had some fun on those too.
Dinner was then served: Hake fish with a herb butter sauce, peppers and onions and then mashed potato, coleslaw and bread on the side. The fish was fresh and tasted delicious. Everyone went for seconds (Alice even went for sixths 🙊) but I don’t blame her because the food was so much better than the backpacker diet we’d been used to.
After dinner everyone made a rush for the drinks and we finally got to try out goon. The verdict? Disgusting.
We tried to finish our cups but just couldn’t stomach it. We were offered some of another person’s goon (which was actually so nice) and spent the evening chatting and dolphin-spotting. Dolphins came and swam by our boat – it was kinda magical..
Everyone was woken up bright and early at 6:30pm and breakfast was served: fruit, cereal, toast and tea/coffee. The standard. We started sailing out of the bay towards Whitehaven Island which is where the world-famous Whitehaven beach is.
Once anchored, we grabbed our bags and stinger suits and left in parties of 10 on a small boat. Pictured below is the New Horizon boat from where we got dropped off:
After a ten-minute walk we made it to the Whitehaven lookout where we got the most gorgeous views of the beach and island.
We then walked down to the beach where we got more group photos, cool photos with a vegemite jar and also got to see baby sharks and stingrays.
Lunch was served back on the boat and was just sandwich things with fillings and pasta salad. We ate this while sailing round to Hayman Island for our first taste of snorkelling on part of the Great Barrier Reef!
The journey there was fairly long and the heat really was beginning to get to everyone. Alice and I went downstairs to have a lie-down as there was air-con and both ended up dropping off. Before long, everyone who had come down to rest was woken up as we had arrived. Snorkelling was amazing and there were so many types of fish; they swam so close!
The crew also got out the giant inflatable slide and paddle-boards for us to play with when we had had enough of snorkelling. The slide is so much fun and the water around the Whitsundays is gorgeous. I wish I was back there now…
After snacks of nachos+salsa and biscuits, followed by a dinner of spag bol with garlic bread and salad, we all played drinking games and chatted. It was our last night on the boat and we all wanted to enjoy it fully.
The following day we had an early morning snorkel scheduled before sailing back to Airlie Beach. Though it was at 7:30am, it was well worth it and the water was so refreshing so early in the morning. Below I’ll put all of the pictures from both snorkelling sessions:
Lunch, consisting of as many hot dogs as we wanted, was served as we sailed back to land. The journey back was a few hours and meant that the crew could put out the sails and we got the chance to try out sailing.
Once arriving back mid-afternoon, we had time to shower and relax back at the hostel before heading out to the boat’s after party. This included reserved tables for us at a bar for dinner followed by entry to two or three clubs afterwards!
Overall, the Whitsunday Islands are incredible and I hope I will get the chance to re-visit! If you have any other questions regarding either the Whitsundays in general or New Horizon, don’t hesitate to pop a comment in the section below 🙂
– Oh, did you see I made a YouTube channel? 😉
Peace and love,