Whitehaven Beach & The Great Barrier Reef

While on vacation the group of us decided to do a sailing adventure to Whitehaven Beach which is widely known for having some of the whitest sands in the world. Lucky for us, the captain announced that it was one of the nicest days they had had on the water all year! Before we reached the beach we got to test out our snorkeling abilities in a small coral area near the beaches. Because it was stinger season we were advised to wear wet suits while snorkeling and it was extremely scary to see tiny jelly fish surrounding you while you are swimming. After a quick bite to eat, we headed to the beach. We took a smaller boat (as seen above) to the island and enjoyed the 90 degree weather.

 

Once on the beach we were able to play frisbee in the sand and take loads of pictures. According to our guide, the sand is able to even clean jewelry! There is nothing like being able to walk on a beach of that size and be able to describe it’s beauty but the most I can say was it was amazing.

The whole group in front of our sail boat!

The following day we headed out to the Great Barrier Reef. I tend to get sea sick so I was a little worried about the three hour trip to the reef but again the captain announced that this was one of the best days they have seen all year on the water! We were definitely lucky. Because we booked through a travel agency we all received a free voucher to have an exploratory scuba diving experience for 30 minutes! None of us had our scuba licenses so we did the beginners but it was 100% worth it to be able to see the Great Barrier Reef up close. I was actually surprised at the colors. When I think of the reef I think really bright colors because that is what most pictures show…This is merely a show. Pictures such as that are taken at night with large lights and very nice cameras. To take these kind of pictures with those kinds of colors would be hundreds of thousands of dollars and you would have to be a certified diver. So, we settled for the pretty pictures we got, which are not that bad either!

We received a little bit of training but we pretty much got right into scuba diving with an instructor holding on to your arm. My personal favorite part was seeing fish from Finding Nemo, if you listened close enough to me (over the bubbles that is) you would have been able to hear me scream, “NEMO!” every time I saw a clown fish.

Overall, scuba diving was one of the best experiences of my life thus far. Afterwards we were able to snorkel the remaining bits of the reef and I even went down and touched the bottom of the ocean floor!

I will forever remember the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach they resulted in one of the best weeks of my life! :)

Intrabreak- Week One- Whitsunday’s: The Perfect Holiday

 

At University of the Sunshine Coast students are given a two week holiday as what we in the States would call “Spring Break”. After long hours in the student travels office, myself and ten other students decided on Whitsunday’s Island for our first week. We booked our flights and headed to the airport early one morning. The flight was only an hour and half so we were there before we knew it.

 

Our first stop was Airlie Beach where we stayed in a 8 person hostel called “Beaches”. Unlike places on the Sunshine Coast we were not allowed to enter the ocean because the large number of stingrays, jelly fish and sea lice but we found a lagoon close and laid by the beach for most of the day. That night we enjoyed the nightlife and were able to meet a lot of local Australians. Luckily, there were enough people that the hostel we stayed in only included us and not random people.

That morning we headed to our real destination, Long Island, which was only an hour long ferry cruise away. We settled into our four-bedroom dorm style hostel and headed out to explore. A short walk away we found a deserted beach where we climbed rocks and soaked in the sunshine. It was nearly 90 degree weather so we all got a little bit of tan.¬†Stupidly, I forgot my shoes so I felt like a real Australian walking without shoes on and climbing tall rocks. Fortunately for me, one of the guys let me wear his flip-flops (or thongs as they call them) so I wouldn’t tear my feet to shreds.¬†We were all extremely excited to have found this back beach because the resort we were staying at mostly included large families with dozens of children. Not exactly the perfect spring break location, but what other 20-year olds in college can say they stayed on an almost deserted island for a week? Not many.

 

The following day we decided to take a hike to a beach called Sandy Bay which was 4.4 km (apx. 2.7 miles) away, one way. We only got lost once and got to see amazing beaches and rain forests throughout the journey. Around half way, one of the guys goes, “Oh my gosh I almost just stuck my head in a spiders web!” We all turned around to find a HUGE spider web with a spider lounging in the middle that was around the size of my head, probably larger even. I almost died. I wanted to scream and run as far away as possible. But boys being boys, they wanted to poke at it and play with it, so the girls decided it was time to keep walking and we scurried in the other direction. After an hour and a half of walking we finally reached the beach. It was empty, not a person in sight. So we got some speakers out and had our own private day on the beach. Since we were on the beach, we thought, “Hey, let’s go in the ocean!” So we carelessly strolled out to the water. From numerous times of being on a beach, I began watching my feet when I walked. Suddenly, the sand started moving right in front of me! A HUGE stingray was swimming away from us! Needless to say, I screamed, loud. From then on my eyes were glued to the ocean bottom. I would say we probably saw about 5/6 of them just on the small walk we did. Then the group of us stopped in the middle to hang out and enjoy life. We see another ripple in the sand, thinking it’s a stingray we shuffle our feet for it to go away, but this one starts stampeding towards us! We realize it is a very large turtle charging us, so we all scream and run as fast as possible from the ocean. After that incident not many people got back in. Two boys did enjoy the water more than the rest of us though but the majority of us stayed and read books in sand. After a few hours we decided to head back. When we returned one of the guys that had been in the water a lot started complaining about his leg hurting. He pulls up his shorts and there is a huge welt on his thigh. An australian man comes over and goes, “Oh my gosh you have been stung by a jelly fish! Get vinegar on that as soon as possible!” We later found out that he could have been seriously hurt/ could have died from this sting! He got lucky though and had few symptoms, thankfully.

 

The next day we headed to Whitehaven beach then the following day we headed to the Great Barrier Reef (see next blog entry for more details).

Overall, it was an amazing trip and I am so glad I was able to experience it.