Sail Hello to the Whitsundays

14th September 2016

Gigi (Beneteau 43.4)

The Whitsunday Islands are a temptation too hard to resist. Soft white sand beaches are begging to be explored while the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park waits just below the surface, with secrets ready to be snorkelled. A charter catamaran tugs eagerly on her mooring lines, as if ready to set sail at any moment. The vessel is here waiting for you, the perfect way to discover the beauty and tranquillity of the Whitsundays.

Whitsundays cruises and sailing is the ideal mode of transport, across some of north Queensland's most beautiful waters, to the glittering emerald jewels that are the islands of the Whitsundays. Before you hit the water, Airlie Beach's Abell Point Marina will get you prepped with everything you need to be the captain of your own holiday. Rent stinger suits and snorkelling gear, pick up some supplies and finalise all the paperwork before passing a written and practical test that says you're ready to leave dry land behind.

The sand spit of Landford Island is just 2 hours from the marina and is, quite aptly, named One Foot Island. Located just off Hook Island, within 15 minutes of mooring you can be swimming with stingrays. When you start to get pruney, its back onboard to motor on to the protected Stonehaven Anchorage where you can safely stay overnight. As soon as the sun is up you'll want to get back out there. For a shot of culture, but definitely not swimming, head to Nara Inlet and watch the hammerhead sharks play before going ashore to explore the ancient aboriginal caves of Ngaro Cultural Site. Believed to have been settled by Ngaro people over 9,000 years ago, the stone walls of the caves are adorned with rock art.

If you're visiting from June to September, you simply must sail through the pass between Hook Island and Hayman Island because chances are very high that you'll see the humpback whales on their annual migration. It doesn't really matter where you drop anchor, there are countless colourful coral reefs teeming with tropical fish and marine life. In Tongue Bay, you might just catch a glimpse of some green scaly heads as turtles bob up to the surface for a peek. Of course no holiday to the Whitsundays is complete without a visit to the spectacular Whitehaven Beach and in your chartered catamaran you can sail right up to its pristine shores. Nearby Hamilton Island is another popular stop and with its lack of cars on the island, it enjoys a perpetual holiday feel, as if untouched by the tedium of normal daily life.

While all good things must come to an end, there are over 70 islands in the Whitsundays group so there are still plenty of beaches to explore and coral reefs to snorkel on your next sailing holiday. The best part is, you don't need any special skills in order to skipper your own catamaran and it makes for a much more unique and enjoyable way to experience this stunning part of Australia. The breeze is dependable and most anchorages are less than two hours apart. The best time to visit is from May to November, with the months from August to November being the driest.

Chantilly