Exploring The Whitsundays & The Great Barrier Reef

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Hey everyone! So the countdown is officially on and it’s exactly five weeks until I return to the wonderful place that I call home – Australia. I’m already envisioning myself laying on a beach with my friends and family, eating cherry ripes and getting that much needed vitamin d in my body. I have two weeks at home before returning to London, which doesn’t seem like a long enough visit to justify the twenty hour flight (I’m secretly praying for an upgrade) but I’ll be escaping part of the British winter, so no complaints here!

As a frequent traveller, I’m somewhat embarrassed when people ask me for tips on travelling Australia. I’m constantly asked where are the best places to eat? What are the best sites to see? And I mean, I have a few to recommend in Melbourne where I grew up, and then some from my years living and working in Sydney, but to be honest, I’ve seen more of Europe & America than I have of my own country.

When it comes to travel, I think a lot of people forget to experience the beauty of their own country, which is something I’m definitely guilty of. I mean, I lived most of my life only a few hours drive from The Great Ocean Road and I’ve never even seen it! I know, shame on me, but it’s something I’ll be correcting when I go back in November.

In the past, I’ve always felt that in order to get that true holiday experience, I had to go abroad rather than local. But the more I travel, the more I’ve developed a hunger to explore Australia everything that’s – as we Aussies say – right there in my backyard. However in saying all this, I am proud to say that there’s one place in Australia I can confidently say I’ve visited. and that’s The Great Barrier Reef.

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Arrival… Daydream Island

There are a number of islands that make up the Whitsundays, each offering something different. So doing your research is key to picking the right one for your travels. I spent a total of one week in this tropical paradise and I chose to stay at both Daydream and Hamilton Island.

My first impression of Daydream island was that is was predominantly a family focused island. Lot’s of activities scheduled throughout the day like archery, mini golf, water sports and more. A child at heart, I checked into my room and then went straight to the side of the island that held all the activities. I tried my hand at archery, thinking it wouldn’t be hard, but when I ended up with a nine year old beside me showing perfect aim, and my attempts at hitting the bulls eye were complete fails, I decided to stick to activities that required less accuracy – like going on beachside walks and laying by the pool.

Day Two & Three… relaxation at its best

The beach on the island was beautiful, however not the most ideal for sun baking due to the number of rocks. So joining the other guests I pulled up a lounge chair and spent my days reading and drinking cocktails poolside. I’d say if you prefer the beach to the pool, or if you don’t have children, then maybe limit yourself to a day trip here, rather than a few nights stay, because it can become a little chaotic when the kids get over excited.

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Day Four… Hamilton Island

This island was the complete opposite to Daydream, directed more towards singles and couples on romantic getaways, and it was definitely my favourite out of the two. A mixture of beaches, boutique shopping, waterfront restaurants and fun but relaxed nightlife. The view from my hotel balcony was jaw dropping, and I immediately wished I had more than a few days here.

The fun thing about Hamilton Island is that hardly anyone owns a car. You either take the local bus to get around, or you do what the locals do and hire golf carts. I opted for the bus, but next time I will definitely choose the golf cart. It looked like so much fun!

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Day Five… The Great Barrier Reef

There’s no questioning that The Great Barrier Reef is one of those postcard picturesque destinations. Located off the coast of Queensland, it’s the largest coral reef in the world, and when I set my eyes on its breathtaking beauty, I was in absolute awe. To see nature like this, completely untouched by development, was truly amazing.

Over the years, I’ve participated in a various scenic activities, but a helicopter ride over heart reef and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef itself, still tops my list. Seeing the coral formations and the incredible colours of the fish, is something I’ll never forget. A recent study has confirmed that the reef is in fact dying, which is heartbreaking, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see it before it becomes extinct.

I was lucky enough to have the helicopter experience as a birthday present, saving myself the hefty $250 price tag, but looking back on it now, I’d absolutely pay for it myself if I had too. The flight duration was really quick, lasting approximately ten minutes, but every single minute was incredible and one hundred percent worth it in my eyes.

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Day Six… Whitehaven Beach

Spending a day relaxing on Whitehaven Beach is a must for everyone visiting the Whitsundays. As my toes sunk into the soft white sand (and yes, it really is white!), as I walked along the shoreline, and swam in the water, I was in utter paradise.

I was lucky to catch the end of stinger season (although I did get a minor jellyfish sting),  because if I had visited during peak season, venturing into the water would have had me looking less like a Baywatch babe and more like Mystique from X-Men. But in a way less attractive way, because the full body stinger suits you have to wear are highly unflattering.

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Day Seven… saying goodbye to paradise

My time in the Whitsundays did not disappoint. And with a number of islands still to visit, I know it won’t be long until I’m back. To me, the beaches here are some of the best in Australia. Well, minus the rocky beaches of Daydream Island.

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