The deep sapphire of the sea, the green of the islands and the reef’s fusion of fifty shades of blue make the Whitsunday Islands beautiful beyond description. Long term fans of the gorgeous area, we certainly didn’t need to be asked twice for a return visit.
And though between visits Cyclone Debbie’s dramatic environmental makeover wreaked much destruction, our recent stay at Airlie Beach proved that not even mother nature’s tempestuous tantrum can dull The Whitsunday Islands’ blinding beauty.
We also discovered that there is still plenty of fun to be found for families in and out of the water. But just don’t take my word on the wonders of the Whitsundays with kids; here Raffles are Sugarpuff are sharing their thoughts on The Whitsunday Islands by kids and why they think it is fab for families.
1. The Beaches
The Whitsundays punches way above its weight when it comes to stunning beaches! From the bone white silica sand (the purest in the world) and turquoise waters of Whitehaven Beach to Bowen’s beautiful beaches and the dozens of tiny wisps of sands hidden away on secluded islands, lovers and sand and sea are spoilt for choice.
He said: “The sand on Whitehaven Beach was so fine that it squeaked when you walked on it, a bit like a little fart. But in a good way! I liked the sound. It was super white and I loved the view from Hill Inlet because the water and sand mixed together looked a bit like an underwater tornado. The water was crystal clear and a really nice temperature. I could have spent all day in it. Actually, I did spend all day in it”.
She said: “At Whitehaven Beach I got to help mummy use the sand to make her wedding ring all shiny but I loved the rock beach best (Cannonvale Beach) because there was at least one thousand billion shells and pretty rocks to collect, but when we left I put them all back because they belong there and it would be naughty to take them. My favourite shell looked like a crab’s hand. The water was very clear so I could see all the fishes and the water was nice and warm.”
2. The water sports
From jet skiing and parasailing to kayaking and paddle boarding, there is no more beautiful place to get your water sport on than the Whitsunday Islands. My adventurous duo love their water sports so were super excited to spend an hour paddle boarding with Whitsunday Stand Up Paddle and Kayak on Shingley Beach. Raffles is a bit of a pro and was off racing cross the water before I had even even fitted an ankle strap. But even with the handicap of not having a clue how to do it, and having Sugarpuff dangling decorously from the front of my board like some kind of nautical figurehead, I soon caught up with my boy racer and am now as hooked as he is.
He said: “I love stand up paddle boarding and I got to teach my mum how to do it. It was awesome being able to paddle board together because she’s like my best friend.”
She said: “I really liked paddle boarding because I got to lay there while mummy paddled me about but then I tried paddling and knocked my mum in the head twice, which was funny, but not for her. “
3. The Boating Adventures
The Whitsundays are a boating mecca packed with catamarans, yachts and cruisers just waiting to be skippered throughout the patchwork of blues. For those who’d rather be chauffeured, there is a choice of tall ships, speedboats, jet boats, and even army ducks. Cruise Whitsundays have plenty of great cruise options for families with day trips to the Reefworld Pontoon for snorkelling and scuba (all equipment is available for loan on site) and, for those who don’t want to get wet, an underwater viewing chamber and semi-submersible submarine. On this occasion we decide on taking to the water with the award-winning Ocean Rafting team and their new custom-built boat, Riptide, which takes us zigging and zagging around the islands at speed.
He said: “There are so many ways to explore the islands but I doubt any of them are as much fun as doing it with Ocean Rafting. The captain and the host were super nice and the boat zooms around really fast and does crazy loops. You have to hold on for your life. Epic!”
She said: “The boat was super fast and they did lots of spins, which made me giggle.”
4. The Great Barrier Reef
We cant possibly visit the wonderful Whitsundays without donning wetsuits, snorkels and masks to explore the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.The 2,300km-long underwater world is the largest living organism on Earth, bigger even than Raffles’ appetite (allegedly). Dotted with pretty living corals, thousands of varieties of spotted, striped and lavishly-hued fish happily going about their business, the ravishing reef is home to 10% percent of the world’s entire fish species including more than 100 species of jellyfish, 130 plus breeds of shark and rays, six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.
He said: “Snorkelling across the reef was so amazing. It’s like an underwater world, and kind of how I imagine Atlantis would look, except without the buildings. There were loads of pink and red corals, plus tonnes of grandly coloured fish and a cool purple-lipped clam that kept opening and closing.”
She said: “I tried snorkelling but was a bit scared. Mama looked after me though and the coral was pretty.From our boat we saw a giant turtle pop his head up to say hello. And there were loads and loads of fish in the water.”
5. The Food
Of course we find time to fill our bellies. From burgers by the beach, big and bold breakfast at The Fat frog Café, incredible seafood platter at Treehouse Airlie Beach, which also boasts a kids’ menu delightfully designed by actual kids, and fabulous fine dining at the new Hemmingway’s with its white cane furniture, cool cocktails and impeccable Modern Australian fusion food, we shovelled food in faces at every opportunity.
He said: “The food up in the Whitsundays was even better than I expected. Especially the seafood. Hemmingway’s at Airlie Beach was spectacular. I had the most incredible cured King Salmon and reef fish with clams. Unbelievable! And the white chocolate and raspberry cocktail the bar dude made me was the best I’ve ever had. I also loved the ridiculously huge Seafood platter at The Treehouse, it had everything you could imagine and more. And though it was all delicious, my favourite bit was the prosciutto wrapped king prawns.”
She said: “I liked the fat frog because I got to have a freddo frog and loads of ice cream on my pancakes and also liked it because it had loads of toys and a dress up corner.”
6. The Resorts
Renowned for its resorts, not all had reopened for business on our post Cyclone Debbie visit but those that were wowed. The recently refurbished Mantra Club Croc is conveniently located on Shute Harbour Road just a few minutes’ walk from the Whitsunday Shopping mall, dozens of fantastic restaurants and Abell Point Marina. Stylish and spacious accommodation, a fantastic resort pool and spa, and an excellent poolside restaurant and bar are just a few of the great amenities for families. Airlie Beach’s BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is seriously one of the best holiday parks in Australia, with accommodation ranging from camp sites to luxury two- and three-bedroom condos. It’s also home to Airlie Beach’s largest resort-style swimming pool with two fun waterslides and a toddler splash area. Plus there are jumping pillows, pedal karts, a mini-golf course, playground and, opening any day now, a waterpark with a whopping 13 waterslides.
He said: “I really liked Club Croc because I got my own room, and the TV had awesome movies playing. Plus they had a really cool pool that looked like a lagoon and it had all these different little sections and an island in the middle, which made it great for playing tip and other games with my sister. The restaurant there was great too, we had awesome tacos for lunch (I recommend the fish ones). And they bought an epic tropical fruit platter to our room as well as cool flavoured popcorn that we gobbled it while we watched Fantastic Mr Fox in bed with mama. It’s an awesome hotel for families.”
She said: “I liked Club Croc because it had a big pool and a really yummy buffet but I also liked BIG 4 because they had jumping pillows and mini golf.”
Disclosure: The Eats Worlds were hosted by the lovely people at Tourism and Events Queensland but as always, all opinions, gorging and fishy frolicking are our own.