While in Airlie Beach we couldn’t miss out on one of the most well known trips on the East Coast, the one everyone talks about and the one you’re definitely not supposed to miss out on – Whitsundays. We had been looking forward to this one and after Fraser Island our expectations were high. Now I’ll be honest from the start and say that our trip was still fun and amazing, but it was a bit of a disappointment and nowhere near as good as Fraser. This was completely out of the hands of our guides, unfortunately the weather was a bit temperamental and pretty cloudy when we were out on the boat – unavoidable and such a shame as the weather before and after our trip was amazing. We left the harbour in brilliant sunshine and arrived back to a gorgeous day. It was just that bit in the middle – you know, the trip itself – where unfortunately clouds filled the sky and it even rained on us at points. We were heading out to the open ocean with Powerplay, which apparently is one of the most expensive cruises you can book but we luckily got a big discount for booking our whole East Coast trip as a package.We chose Powerplay because it was not only a smaller boat – a catamaran – with a smaller crew and amount of guests, but it also offered a touch more luxury. It was our treat after living in some questionable hostels on the way up the east coast and we really wanted a smaller group for a different experience to that of cruises like the Clipper which is basically a booze cruise. Nothing wrong with that, and we know lots of people who have had an epic time on the other boats, but this time we just didn’t really fancy that type of trip. It was a good decision because our group for Whitsundays was one of the most diverse yet, with people ranging in age from 18 to around 45, but all a great laugh and it was brilliant to be teamed up with two girls from our Fraser Island trip for more fun. The boat itself had a mixture of private and shared sleeping quarters, we had booked a private room and after months of hostels I can’t tell you how amazing it was to have a door to shut on the world while we slept – even if it was just a little cubby on the boat. The double bed cabin came to $435, but as I said, we paid a lot less thanks to booking our trip as a whole. The rooms were great – a perfect size and with some of the comfiest beds ever – between that and the gentle rocking of the boat, we slept like a dream. Inside there were sofas and the kitchen, outside there was plenty of deck to sunbathe (we wish!), whale watch or play cards, while up at the front there was a hot tub – this was what swung it for us! The first day was spent powering out to sea towards our first snorkelling site. Now I know that some, like myself, get seasick and can be put off the thought of a boat trip while travelling. I heard a lot of people on the other boats, including the Clipper, were getting sick thanks to the waves but on Powerplay barely anyone even felt sick. I had taken Travelcalm with me just in case but didn’t even use it the whole time, there was just one section where a few of us felt queasy because it became a little choppy – so I really wouldn’t let these worries put you off. When we arrived and dived into the water, we were instantly surrounded by fish of all colours, shapes and sizes at one of the best dive sites in Whitsundays. The seabed was covered in bright and colourful corals, and we spent a couple of hours there exploring and racing the fish. Afterwards, it was time for tea and biscuits on the boat as we headed to our dock for the night with a fridge full of cider and wine. A night of drinking games, cards and lots of fun followed, with a early start to power off towards Whitehaven Beach where we were all on the lookout for Johnny Depp who we knew had been spotted nearby filming the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.I’m not going to lie, this day was a bit of a disappointment after all the hype. It was completely overcast and even started raining on us when we stood on the beach – not the image I had in my mind when people describe Whitehaven! We took the standard photos, gave ourselves a scrub down with the sand – which is the finest you will find in the world and leaves you with baby soft skin – and went manta ray spotting in the shallows. When the winds and rain started up, we sheltered under a tree before given in and playing the old classics like 40/40 in to keep warm! It was an anticlimax but I know I’ll definitely do the trip again to experience Whitehaven in glorious sunshine. Luckily, what happened back on the boat more than made up for any disappointment. Throughout the Whitsundays, my one recurring thought was that I simply had to see a sea turtle. Until now I had see countless dolphins and whales, fish of all kinds and even sharks, but no turtles! Back on the boat, suddenly our skipper cried out “sea turtle!” And knowing full well how much I wanted to swim with one he said we had to dive in, minus stung suits because this was our one chance. I took no persuading and dived straight in to the water while Mark ran to grab a mask and my camera, I swam out to the turtle and was within touching distance of the creature. It was everything I dreamed of and more, I even gave him a little high five! I swam with him for as long as I could, knowing I was getting further and further into the jellyfish waters – I could see the little buggers everywhere around me and could feel the itchy stings all over my body. But it was worth it.That night, we were celebrating the end of an awesome trip and an early birthday for Mark – it was actually the next day but naturally we had cake, all got a bit drunk, went fishing for squid before watching one of the girls eat it raw. Then finished up the night in the hot tub looking up at the stars – not such a disappointing trip after all! The two things we wanted were sea turtles and the hot tub – so it seems it was actually a pretty great trip. I would really recommend choosing Powerplay – the guys are amazing, great fun and really do give you the best trip. One of my close friends is also working on Wings which is a very similar trip, if you fancy trying that one out.
Have you been to Whitsundays? Which boat did you use? What was your highlight?