Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Airlie Beach and a trip to the Whitsundays

Airlie Beach
Our next stop was Airlie Beach, which is a small town that, from what we saw of it, is really all about the tourists coming to see the Great Barrier Reef and the nearby Whitsunday Islands.

The one main street is pleasant enough, with some nice places to eat and drink dotted around, but there is a distinct feel of it being backpacker central, with the bars, clubs and drinking games that go with it.

Airlie Beach
We were only here for a couple of days, to take a trip out to the islands. We didn't feel like doing one of the rather expensive yacht trips, partly due to the price, and partly because so much of the time was spent either sailing or on beach and swimming, which we don't really do.

On the Big Fury, Airlie Beach
Instead, we picked the Big Fury, a speedboat that takes about forty people, which gets to where it is going quickly. Nic is prone to seasickness, so he took tablets, which is probably sensible as it does get a bit bouncy.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays
When we arrived at the boat, we soon realised that, other than the crew, we were the only people over the age of about 22, making us old enough to be the parents of any of the other travellers. It felt a bit awkward initially, with people not really seeming to want to chat with us oldies (we're only mid forties!).

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays
Our first stop was the famous Whitehaven Beach, with its much admired white silica sand, that squeaks underfoot as you walk. The ride out was good, with friendly and amusing commentary from the guy, whose name I have sadly forgotten.

On arrival, first on the agenda was lunch. This was good, as it gave us a chance to meet some of our fellow passengers. Once we started talking to them about our travels, including to a number of their home countries like Japan and Argentina, they saw a connection with themselves and no longer worried about the age gap. That made the trip far more pleasant and sociable.
Lace Monitor Lizard, Whitsundays

During lunch, we did have to keep an eye out for the roaming lace monitor lizards that are wild in the area. They were on the lookout for food, and apparently aren't shy about having a little nibble on you too, so there was much picking up of feet.

After lunch, we had an hour or two to wander along the beach, and for those who wanted to, take a walk inland or have a swim. The boat guy was great with taking photos for people etc. Not being beach people, this was just about the right amount of time for us, before we started to get bored.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays

Back in the boat, we set of around the islands with more commentary, and headed for a nice secluded bay where we could do some snorkelling. the company hired out stinger suits, which we had got in case we decided to try, and we decided to be brave and give it a go.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays
With snorkels and life jackets on, it was time to jump off the side of the boat and into the water. With my fear of being underwater, this was a feat in itself, and it took a few attempts for me to launch myself into the water.

Once in, I gave it a go, and managed to get my face in a few times to see a bit, but in the end I just didn't feel safe and left Nic to float around with the others, while I went back to the boat. In hindsight, I think part of my problem is - in a slightly perverse way - the life jacket; I concluded that it makes me feel out of control, so figure that I would try again some time, without the jacket, as long as it is an area that I feel safe in.
Airlie Beach

The guy on the boat was great about all of this. He was really supportive about my attempt, but when it didn't work out, he gave me a short while to get changed, and then took me out on his little dinghy, with a glass ended cone that I could use to see down into the water. So I didn't miss out on seeing the corals and the giant clam.

Airlie Beach
Of course, both Nic and I forgot to take out the waterproof camera, so neither of us got any photos. Oops.

This was an enjoyable day out. I would recommend the Big Fury, wit the only caveat being that, if our trip was anything to go by, if you are over the age of about 22, you may feel a bit out of it, unless you can edge you way in like we did.

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