Whitehaven Beach

Sailing to the Whitsunday Islands

Whitehaven beach in Australia is said to be the whitest beach on earth. It looks like paradise and is located on the Whitsunday Islands. Read my travel story on sailing to this paradise destination below. Or go straight to all the info you need to plan your own sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands.

Sailing to the Whitsunday Islands

As the sails catch wind, we take up speed and slide through the blue waters. The sunlit deck is covered in shade as the sails set. Enjoying the calming sound of the rippling water makes more than up for it. Until some minutes ago, the background sound to our boat trip was the roaring sounds of the engine. Now, the boat trip has upgraded to a sailing trip.

Some relaxing hours pass by, chatting with our fellow ‘sailors’, watching the ocean waters glitter in the strong sunshine. In the distance, a group of migrating whales passes us by.

Tongue Bay on Whitsunday Islands

Arriving at Tongue Bay, we wade a couple of meters through the water. On the island, we follow our enthusiastic young crew member for a short walk uphill. Although we are primarily excited for the lookout point we’re heading to, the bush gets our full attention. A dark grey predatory lizard moves between the trees. The goanna has flecks of yellow along its 1,5 meter long body. It moves low above the ground and away from us. It is not interested in heading uphill to Hill Inlet Lookout.

Hill Inlet Lookout on Whitehaven Beach

The view on Whitehaven Beach is jaw dropping beautiful. All of us make affectionate sounds of awe. The postcards we have seen in the tourist shops in Airlie Beach proof not to be photoshopped. They are take from the viewpoint where we are standing right now: Hill Inlet Lookout. Whitehaven beach is the whitest beach imaginable. The swirly sandbanks and clear blue inlet waters form a beautifully patterned painting.

Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven Beach

A barefoot stroll on Whitehaven Beach

We take in the views for a while and then make our way down to set foot on the beach. The sun has heated up the inlet waters. The white sand does not retain any heat and is perfect for a barefoot stroll. Extremely fine and soft sand squeaks beneath the soles of our feet. Small crabs make their way through the small streams of water flowing over the sand. In the clear waters of the ocean, a ray passes us by in the shallow.

The whitest beach on earth is in Australia

Whitehaven beach consists of 98% pure silica sand. The fine grains are not only loved by beach bums and travellers for its softness and white colour. Supposedly, the find sands also has beauty benefits. To exfoliate your skin for instance, or to clean your jewellery.

Crab on Whitehaven Beach

Back on our boat, the evening brings us a fine sunset. From the deck, we spot small reef sharks swimming round the bow. We can see them in the dark waters thanks to a special blue light. On the back of the boat, we look into more subtle lights. We lay down in hammocks that are stretched side by side between the masts. Above us, stars dot the night sky. We hold hands a the gently rocking boat makes our hammocks swing. Every now and then I put a foot down to slow down the rocking pace. Just to make sure that I don’t fly overboard and join the reef sharks and sting rays in the Great Barrier Reef.

Sunset Whitsunday Islands sailing trip

Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands

After a night’s sleep in the cabin behind the anchor, we wake up to moody grey skies and rain. Luckily, morning glory has changed her ways by the time we put on stinger suits. The suits will protect us from the small, unpleasant stingrays roaming the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. All set, we hop on a small motor boat that drops us close to a well-known snorkelling spot.

Stingers in the Great Barrier Reef

I have only just made it in the water with my snorkling gear, when I hear a short but loud scream. One that I recognize as my partner’s. He has managed to hit a stingray as he jumped in the water, at the one spot not protected by the stinger suit. His face. He has a painful, red stain beneath his lip. Luckily, he did not get stung by one of those deadly poisonous stingers that float in the waters.

Besides the stingers, the ocean shows some of its other inhabitants to us. We see small rainbow coloured fish that make quick and sudden turns as they pass us by. Curious and beautifully coloured deep blue-purple fish come up close. An absolutely gigantic and imposing black fish swims into view. The giant is known to show its face to snorkelling admirers at this spot. And the crew knows more local ocean secrets. They throw some fish food in the water and, seemingly from nowhere, we are surrounded by a countless collection fish. They are surrounding us so closely that it looks like we have put our head in an overcrowded aquarium.

Sailing and snorkeling

As we head back to Airlie Beach, the soaked stinger suits that we tied to the railing move up and down in the wind. We don’t hear the flapping sound though, as the engine is turned on again. It is a sound we have gotten familiar with by now, and we enjoy the sunshine it offers us. It is a bit chilly because of the wind, but with the sails hoisted up it is the perfect sunny spot to enjoy cruising the waters.

Sailing to Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands

What is the best time of the year to visit Whitsunday Islands?

For us, one of the perks of travelling in low season was that our group consisted of twelve travellers while the boat capacity is double that size. That made sure that we had plenty of space to make ourselves comfortable on the deck.

We were extremely lucky with the weather, since it has been raining all week.

What is the best sailing tour to Whitsunday Islands?

As soon as you arrive in Airlie Beach the offers for a sailing trip will be overwhelming. The two basic choices you have to make: do you want a bigger, party-style boat or a smaller, relaxed boat? And number 2: do you want to go for a two day, 1 night trip or 3 days, 2 nights?

Can I book a lastminute sailing trip to Whitsunday Islands?

We booked our trip on low season just a week in advance with a huge discount. Since the trip was only half full, we had double the space for half the prize.

Should I book a day trip or overnight trip to Whitehaven Beach?

We enjoyed a lovely 2 days, 1 night trip with a fun crew on board Siska. Perks of staying overnight are plentiful: more time for snorkling, chances of spotting reef sharks from the boat in the evening, and watching the starry nights skies from the deck.

Is it safe to bring along my camera to Whitehaven beach?

The white sands gets everywhere. So you have to be extremely careful when using your camera. Whatever you do, do not clean the lens until after you have left the beach and can blow the dust off first. Tip: cover any openings with tape so that the microscopic grains do not manage to find their way into the inside of your camera.

What should I bring along on a sailing trip to Whitsundays Islands?

A tip: bring warm socks with you! No matter how bright the sun shines when you leave the harbour, it will be cold at night outside on the deck. So bring socks! You’ll want to cover your bare sun-kissed feet and the boat has a no shoes allowed policy.

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