Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef
For almost all outdoor fans, the Whitsunday Islands are considered as a highlight of the journey and everybody dreams of experiencing the sun and the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays on one of the yachts and to enjoy the marvellous and nearly untouched nature at the other end of the world.
The Whitsundays consist on 74 islands from which only 17 are inhabitated. Most of the islands have a status of national parks and belong to Whitsunday Islands Nationalpark. The islands are a part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Great Barrier Reef is located at 35 sea miles at the east. But the islands are also surrounded by some smaller riffs. The biggest of the islands is Whitsunday Island.
Those who want to enjoy the holidays and quietness in resorts have the possibility to spend their holidays in Hamilton Island, Daydream Island, Hayman Island, Hook Island, Lindeman Island, Long Island and South Molle Island. The islands are on one hand luxurious, familiar and glamorus and are the property of a hotel corporation. But a holiday in such a resort belongs to one of the highest price levels. But partly, there is still the possibily to camp in certain islands, therefore, one should get informed on the spot in Airlie Beach.
From May to September it is possible to view humpback whales in the surrounding waters, that use the time there to calve. The Whitsunday Islands are located protectedly behind the Great Barrier Reef and are considered as one of the best sailing areas in the world. Daily, ships from the coastal areas Shute Harbour or Arlie Beach cast off to the islands. Those who want to travel by plane to the islands have the possibility to land on Hayman, Daydream, South Molle, Lindemann and Hamilton Island.
Main Island Whitsunday Island with the Whiteheaven Beach
The biggest island of the Whitsundays sized 109 km² achieves at the Whitsunday Peak a height of 438m. The famous Whiteheaven Beach at the south-east coast of the island is with a length of 6 km the longest and the most beautiful beach of the whole island group. It is said that it is even the most beautiful beach of the world, and I can only agree to that.
When we arrived on the island on our catamaran we of course went first up the hill through the rainforest, to the view point on the Hill Inlet with a view to the Tongue Point over the Whiteheaven Beach. Unfortunately, we had to view the Whiteheaven Beach with a slight rainfall and rather bad weather, but it was still an undescribable feeling to be there and a wonderful view, a dream. Afterwards we ran down to the sea in order to run through the snow-white sand and I have to say, there is no other soft and dream sand beach anywhere in the world like this.
Sailing Trip to the Whitsunday Islands
Personally, I choosed a 4-day sailing trip in a catamaran with a length of 18 m and with 21 passengers. I was with some friends in the Pacific Star and it was a dream trip with a very nice crew and the food was prepared by someone from New Zealand which was really delicious.
The majority of the passengers came from England, Germany, Belgium, Ireland. The age difference was of approximately 25 years and most of them were enthusiastic divers. Our crew consisted on two Australian diving teachers, a cook from New Zealand and an Australian skipper. During our trip, also scuba diving was offered, so that also if one had no diving license he could also enjoy the underwater-world of the Great Barrier Reef.
I was also a scuba diver, that means that one does diving as everybody else, the only difference is that one is accompanied by the diving instructor. Before that, one gets a 30 minutes instruction how to behave and what the underwater sign do mean. I was fascinated, as I was additionally allowed to do the diving trip with the handsome Tom.
The diving tours were of a maximum depth up to 12m and we swam between the coral streets and many colourful fishes - a dream, I did not want to get out of the water. The catamaran partly sailed for hours in the ocean at some riffs where there was no land or other boats visible far and wide, an incredible feeling. Around evening we always sailed close to the coast of one of the islands and spent there the night on the sea. Most of the times, some other boats anchored there too. And on each of these boats, barbecue parties we held in the evenings and the wonderful sunsets were observed. There was also the possibility to have a diving tour at night.
This sailing trip will always be an unforgettable experience to me and I can only recomend it everybody who has enough time for such a trip; What is important for such a sailing trip is to take some pills against seasickness and to take one before getting on board. This is due to the reason that it is not foreseeable if one will get seasick or not, and if one gets seasick on sea it is too late and the dream trip becomes a nightmare. In our case, there was a storm one night with high waves so that I could have not coped without having taken my tablet, as even by having taken a tablet I had a strange feeling in my stomach.
Great Barrier Reef
People say that the Great Barrier Reef belongs to the seven wonders of the world. It is bigger than the Chinese wall. It is the only creature that is visible from space. It is the biggest reef system in earth and consists on 2600 single reefs. The Great Barrier Reef expands from the turning circle of the capricorn up to Papua Neuguinea. It forms an outer band parallel to the coast and a so-called inner reef between the coast and the band.
The Great Barrier Reef is 2000 km long and 80 km at the widest part. The distance to the coast is of 300 km in the south and only 30 km in the north. The age of the Great Barrier Reef is controversial, people say between 600 000 and 18 million years. The Great Barrier Reef is considered, beside the Ayers Rock and the Sydney Opera, as one of the main attractions of Australia.
Here, some tiny polyps form their smoothly structured lime cases that resist together the most heavy pacific breaker. Here, more than 400 kinds of corals live and form in the warm water all colours and shapes of corals. It is considered as the biggest organism alive of the world and offers a home to thousands of millions of fishes, from colourful small creatures up to sailing aroud rays or dangerous sharks.
The Great Barrier Reef is considered as the most beautifil diving area of the world; Nevertheless, the reef is considered to be jeopardized due to the many toutists, but also due to the nature itself; As the crown of thorns, a kind of starfish, soak the corals out of their shells and by this way, they make bigger parts of the reef die out. Behind and on the riff, more than 600 Islands formed, partly from coral banks pressed through the earthmovings ober the sea level.
The water is crystal clear and by landing with the boat at the reef, one can already see a lot of coloured fishes, ocean turtles and much more. But also sharks partly pass the boat, I have made this experience when I was ready for starting my diving tour and previously thought if I should really jump into the water.
But my diving instructor Tom said that they were only harmless reef sharks, ok, then I believed him. But honestly, during the first few minutes I felt very queasy and I had a bad feeling. But when I saw the enchanting colourful fishes of all kinds and sizes surrounding me, my fear quickly disappeared. But I saw again a shark swimming under myself and I could even manage to take a picture. Actually I used to think that people who go to Australia for diving or surfing are tired of life, but I made exactly the same, It is not possible to resist this wonderful nature.
The pictures of the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef serve as a small insight into the enchanting nature, and in reality, it is much more beautiful. But those who are afraid of the water or of the sharks and other dangerous animals should think if they really should dive, as panic under the water can be perilous.
Also by snorkeling one already gets a lot of phantastic insights in the underwater world, but at 12 m depth it is again a different feeling by looking to the water surface and only seeing the sunrays blinking, one then is so endlessly free from everything .
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Author: Simone Palm; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz