Australia Part 7: Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef and Bondi Beach

Oh course the day we left Sydney to fly north to the Whitsunday coast, it was the first sunny day in Sydney, but whatever…we were heading up to more sunshine so I can`t complain and my medicine was finally kicking in so I was feeling much better (finally!).

We were off to Airlie Beach, which is in the state of Queensland and about a 3.5 hour flight north of Sydney.  We had a day and a half to chill and relax in this little beach town before our sailing trip and it was a perfect way to finally recover from my sickness and get some sleep before a crazy 3 day sailing trip.

After walking for what seemed like forever with our small bags (no wheels or zippers allowed which was annoying), and way too much fruit juice and bootleg vodka to mix our own cocktails, we finally found the meeting place at the marina.  As it ended up, we met Jane and Phil while waiting and ended up having a lot of fun with them and since they are Canadian (like my other passport says I am), we knew we were in for fun.

We finally set sail at 7pm on January 6th and after a champagne toast, we started to meet the other 30 people on our boat.  We sailed for a few hours into darkness, and all went to bed early (10:30pm) as we were told breakfast is at 7am and we start to hit the beaches to snorkel and enjoy soon after.  Never thought we would have such early start times, but whatever…we are sailing on a mega yacht!

White Haven Beach

-This beach was the first stop we made and it had to be one of the most spectacular white sand beaches I`ve seen anywhere on my trip.  It`s the main picture of the Whitsundays you see in magazines or brochures.  It was 7km long and beautiful.  Photos don`t really do it any justice.  We were told the sand is so fine that it`s better than any sort of jewelry cleaner you can buy.  Too bad I left all my jewels at home.

-We got to stay at this beach for about 3 hours and relax, swim and read.  Only two problems.  We were told we had to wear our sexy stinger suits (like full wetsuits) every time we got into the water, since there were so many jelly fish in the water.  Second issue was it started to rain, then stop, then drizzle more.  It was so on and off again, but still nice to be on the beach and the sun kept coming and going.

Scuba Diving

-I was able to do four dives on the trip and each was just a little different.  I did two dives in the Whitsunday Islands and two dives at the Great Barrier Reef.  We had some fun swim through areas that were tight with our tanks (but fun), went into one cave and had to turn around (I think the dive instructor got lost, but he warned us before that it was a hard one to find).

-On the dives, we saw so many different colors of coral, many bright colored fish and 5 sea turtles…so I would say it was successful.  Plus with each dive, I`m getting better and am able to control my buoyancy which is great.

-Virgil was my super dive buddy.  We stuck together underwater really well and he has the most eagle eyes as he saw turtles from so far away I couldn`t believe it.  I had to laugh as he had to finish one of his dives early as he was very low on air, and I was going to have to surface with him and was sad to end my dive early.  But then Phil, (my Canadian friend), also was out of air, so they paired up to surface and I buddied up with his partner Jane to continue with the dive instructor for another 10 minutes.  Pretty cool as the women were able to better use our air and dive for much longer.

-Diving out on the Great Barrier Reef was such a test of strength as the currents were really strong and we found ourselves swimming against the currents as they kept moving.  Figured it was a great workout was my exercise for the day.

Nights on the Boat

-Each night, we found ways to entertain ourselves.  The first night stood around the captains area chatting with new friends and playing I-pod DJ.  This was really fun for me as I had new music to choose from and each of us got to choose one song so we had quite the variety.  So glad that Virgil brought the speakers as it made for a fun night of getting to know new friends and listening to music.

-Nancy also brought travel Taboo, so we were able to get into teams and try to guess the items.  Add a little drinking to this game and friends from Canada, Australia and England and it had a different twist which was fun.

-Final night on the boat was circle of  death and more fun card games like President (and my friends know how much I love that game!).  Finally at almost 2am, we all called it a night.

-I guess going to bed wasn`t something to look forward to as the air conditioning was broken in half the cabins, including mine, and it was quite hot and hard to sleep at night for me (yet Nancy slept like a baby each night).  Two of the three nights, I actually took  my sheet and pillow up to the deck and tried to sleep on the bench, but it was so windy, it was hard to stay asleep with the noise of the sail flapping in the wind.  I then moved down to the galley to sleep where half the crew was on the floor or couches as there wasn`t enough beds for all them, but this also was hot.  So all in all, I didn`t sleep much on the boat and tended to nap in between dives.

Post Party Night Out:

-The day we ended our cruise, we were told there would be a post party at a bar with “free pizza”.  A few of us knew what free pizza was, and we were right when Domino`s pizza showed up at the bar and I will say it 10 times worse than the best Dominos pizza in the states – so you know it was really horrible!  Luckily we were smart and went to a Mexican place for margaritas, dinner and more Coronas.  I honestly can`t remember the last time I had a Corona, so that was a treat.

Becoming the Frog Whisperer:

-Once we got to the post party bar, we had a few drinks, few shots and then after Rachel came back from the bathroom, the real fun started.

-She told us she found a frog in the toilet and doesn`t know where it came from as she always looks into the bowl before using it.  It ended up being up near the rim and she didn`t notice it till she went to flush.

-So once she came back to tell us, Nancy “Drew” Kim, went to the bathroom to investigate and take pictures to show us.  Rachel`s husband wasn`t allowed to see it (as he couldn`t really enter the ladies restroom).

-I didn`t think it was right to allow the frog to continue to sit in the toilet, so I went next to see the frog and using some paper towels, I whispered to the frog to go hop onto the paper towels, and I would save him.  I think I have a way with the animals as the frog hopped onto my bed of towels, and we went out to show the crowd.

-It was funny as here I come walking up in a dress carrying a green frog on a towel and then I took him outside to free Kermit into the wild.  It was quite a moving moment… especially as I watched him hop away towards the tree…but seriously it had us all laughing for a while and still talking about freeing Kermit the next day

-So the Whitsunday cruise was amazing.  We had some problems with the air conditioning, but you deal and find other ways to have fun.  Some other people on our boat got sea sick here or there, but I guess I have an iron stomach which is good for me as no sickness for me.

The Whitsunday Island are such an amazing and magical place to see the islands (as there are 74 in the area) and then get to go diving at the Great Barrier Reef.   I would highly recommend a boat trip in that are for anyone coming to Australia.

Back to Sydney and Bondi Beach:

-Since my time in Australia was quickly coming to an end, Nancy and I returned to Sydney for 2 more days to relax, and we stayed on Bondi Beach.  Funny thing was I stayed at Bondi Beach with Steph 8 years ago as we just wandered to find a hotel, (when our first place was unacceptable), and this time when Nancy and booked a hotel, we actually booked the same exact place (Hotel Bondi without even knowing it).  So if felt like I had come home after 8 years as the hotel was in the perfect location right on the beach.

-More fun in the sun and we were able to play some travel scrabble on the beach.  I know…nerds, but fun as we soaked in the last rays for a while.

Now I`m off to the states for a brief stop in California and then then New York before I continue to South America.  Yea…a nice break to see family and friends and eat lots of Mexican food which I have been missing so much.

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