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A long Whitsundays Weekend

Some of the world's best beaches, snorkelling and stays.

Nestled along Queensland's coast lies a pristine paradise known as the Whitsunday Islands. Consisting of over 74 different islands and boasting crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant marine life, the Whitsundays offers an unforgettable escape into Australia's beauty and is the perfect way to spend a long weekend.

Where to Stay

Only a two hour flight from Sydney, fly direct to Hamilton Island for a tranquil stay away from the backpacker vibes of mainland's Airlie beach. Hamilton Island is not only beautiful but it's no-car rule gives it a quaint and quiet feel aas everyone travels around on golf buggies, which are available to hire for the duration of your stay. However if your accomodation is situated near the marina and your time will be spent on different trips off the island then this might be a cost you can forego (like we did) as it is perfectly easy to walk around the island and everything is fairly close.

We stayed in Reef View Hotel and were looked after by the team there from the minute we stepped off of the airplane. The transfer bus was a smooth operation and we were quickly checked into our room that had a great view of the pool and the sea beyond it. We were located on floor 2 and had great views but the hotel is nineteen stories high so if you're higher up the building be prepared for views that span well over the beach and beyond.

What to Do

If you're only going to the Whitsundays for a few days you need to be efficient with your time to make sure you're seeing the most that these amazing islands have to offer. Our must-dos included visiting the world-famous Whitehaven beach, a helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef and, because we are adrenaline junkies, a jet-ski tour of the islands. We would say that with a trip like this it is better to be prepared and plan ahead than taking a 'go with the flow' approach as lots of the tours do sell out ahead of time due to limited capacities and all tours can be booked on the Hamilton Island experience website before you arrive.

We took a cruise from Hamilton Island's Marina to Whitehaven beach which took an hour. We had three hours on the brach which feels short but is actually a great amount of time - depending on the time of year you go the sun is very strong and there isn't a huge amount of shade. We recommend jumping into a stinger suit (transparent jellyfish can make your trip a more painful one if you get stung by one of these so nearly all experience tours will give you a stinger suit to reduce the likelihood of getting stung when in the ocean) and basking in the marine colours of the clear ocean. You can also visit two different lookouts on the beach - one is a thirty minute walk and the other is forty-five minutes for alternate views. What we would say that if you are visiting the beach hoping to see the images that are all over Instagram of the Whitehaven's ocean swirls you will be disappointed. These are at the very northern tip of the beach and too far to go there and back in your time on the beach so you'll have to organise a private boat charter if that is a must see during your time.

Another absolute must is going out on a boat to the Great Barrier Reef. Approximately the size of Japan, the Whitsundays is the best place to visit one of the world's biggest natural development sites and one of the wonders of the world. Take a two-hour boat trip out to Reefworld - a floating pontoon that offers free snorkelling exploring of Hardy Reef, and then scuba dives, snorkelling tours, ten-minute helicopter rides and Go-pro hires as added extras that all come at a cost. We were torn between the helicopter ride and the scuba dive, eventually opting to see the reef from above and marvelling at the way the reef carves over the ocean and of course seeing the famous heart reef too. Even if you don't opt for the extras you'll still have a great time snorkelling and marvelling at the coral and schools of fish that live in the area. As part of the cost of the tour we went on, we were able to take an underwater boat slightly out of the reef to see a new area and get up close and personal with the coral and other fish species. Because of its location most Great Barrier Reef trips are an all day excursion - something to consider when you're planning your days and activities.

On our final day in the Whitsundays we opted to do something we have never done before - a jetski tour. After a quick safety briefing and a ten minute warm-up on the skis we were given the space to go full throttle and pick up some serious speed as we flew across the water. If you're an adrenaline junkie or speed demon we couldn't recommend this more - we loved it so much that we did spend most of the flight home wondering if we should persue a career change and instead live out our days as a jet ski instructor.

As part of our trip we did pop over to Airlie Beach but if you're staying on Hamilton Island we'd reccomend not doing this - there is nothing in Airlie Beach that you can't already do from Hamilton and you'll be surrounded by hungover 21-year old backpackers whichis fine if that's your thing but if that isn't then its best to stay away from here. However if you are in the area make sure you visit the famous Northerlies restaurant for their incredible seafood and views - as a bonus you can also jump on their free shuttle bus to take you straight back into town.

What to Eat

Unsurprisingly, there are loads of great food options on Hamilton Island.

For a quick pastry and a coffee walk down to the Marina to the Bakery, for brunch there is Marina's cafe that does all the usual favourites. While Reef View did offer a breakfast buffet at an additonal cost, we decided to not add this on to our bill and instead visited different island cafes for cheaper breakfast options that still fill you up for the day.

If you aren't in the mood to eat out there is an IGA on the Marina that does everything you need and more to whip up a homecooked meal, or get some snacks and drinks beore you head out on your next adventure.

If you're celebrating a special occasion or just feel like a treat in the form of a great meal then we'd recommend Coca Chu, loved by guests and locals alike. Book a table here for a fun fresh menu inspired by the hawker-style street food of South East Asia and enjoy great food and great sunsets as the restaurant overlooks Catseye Beach. Designed for sharing, get a group together to sample the menu for a memory-making evening.

So if you're looking for a long weekend that offers beaches, stunning scenery, a tranquil escape and loads of adventures than look no further than the Whitsundays.


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