Nothing quite stirs up a sense of adventure like taking a boat trip into the open ocean. So when Danielle and I got the chance to see one of the most beautiful parts of Australia from aboard a sailboat, we didn’t hesitate. The sailboat may have been relatively small but it had a big heart and provided opportunities for us to have some incredible first-time experiences.
The Boat (a.k.a. Kiana)
We spent three days and two nights on the Kiana, a 16.4-meter ketch (a sailboat with two masts). The lower deck sleeps 14 people and has air conditioning and hot water for showers (how posh).
The crew was made up of the Captain (a.k.a. Brent, a.k.a. Cappy, a.k.a. Big Skippa), a scuba instructor/tour guide (a.k.a. Ludo), and a chef (a.k.a. Arie). The crew were all amazing and made the experience that much more enjoyable. They had plenty of good jokes and fun with us but made certain we felt safe and comfortable the whole trip.
Our fellow passengers included people from 11 different countries. Given the fact that we would all be sharing tight quarters for the next three days, we really lucked out by having such a wonderful group of people onboard. Despite our cultural and language differences, all of us shared a passion for adventure and laid-back attitudes. We had an awesome time getting to know everyone and sharing this incredible experience together.
Great Barrier Reef (GBR)
One of the main draws of taking the Kiana was that we got to spend a day and night (which is apparently pretty rare) at the outer Great Barrier Reef (GBR), 65 km off of the coast. This part of the trip did not disappoint.
During the day we were one of the only boats at that section of the outer reef. This meant uninterrupted views of the ocean and sea life.
At night we were the only boat we could see in the water. Being so far offshore, there was no light pollution, so we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset and stargazing. Just a note that the Southern Hemisphere has completely different constellations than the Northern Hemisphere. That seems obvious in hindsight but came as a bit of a surprise to us.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
This was our first time scuba diving, so we were undoubtedly super anxious. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to scuba on the GBR, we pulled ourselves together and literally dove in.
I feel fortunate that we had Ludo as our instructor. He was a very calming presence and every time we were about to freak out underwater, Ludo was there to calm us down.
The scuba diving itself was a really neat experience. It was incredible to realize that we were breathing underwater, perfectly comfortably (well most of the time anyway), watching all of the sea life pass us by.
After seeing so many shows about the GBR it was surreal to be swimming along with the fish and looking at all of the coral. The sheer size of the reef was unbelievable. Seeing it firsthand definitely helps you understand where it gets its name from. The one negative aspect was how much of the coral is now bleached. Seeing the GBR was no less wondrous but it definitely got us talking and thinking about how we can better protect our oceans and the environment.
When not scuba diving we were snorkeling. There was so much coral and fish activity to witness right below the water’s surface. We saw some really big, hungry-looking fish, but luckily, they weren’t too interested in us. The waves and the current were no joke though, so be ready to get a workout if you snorkel off the coast.
Whitehaven is one of the most visually stunning beaches I have ever seen. The sand is extra fine and the views from everywhere on the beach are spectacular. We spent an afternoon here (our group had the whole beach to ourselves!), and the way that the crystal-clear water faded into the beach and then back into the water made it difficult to tell where the beach ended and the water began. We also got some up-close views of soldier crabs and stingrays while walking down the shoreline.
I want to say more about Whitehaven but words can’t really do it justice. Take a look at the video (above) and images for a better idea of what I’m talking about.
Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach is an absolute must as far as I am concerned. What’s even better, is being able to experience them while on an overnight sailboat. Even with so many cool things left to see and do on the rest of our trip, Danielle and I can’t wait to come back to the Whitsundays one day to experience it all over again.