The Whitsunday Islands are without a doubt one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions. Its pearl: Whitehaven Beach, rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We wouldn’t want to miss this, so booked a stay at Airlie Beach and a day trip to the Whitsunday Islands. Airlie Beach is known as the gateway to this magnificent part of the Great Barrier Reef and Big Fury took us out there. We can assure you it’s definitely worth it! In this blogpost we’ll tell you all about our day trip to the Whitsunday Islands with Big Fury.
What’s (not) included in your day trip with Big Fury
There are tons of operators organizing trips to the Whitsunday Islands, but Big Fury had an interesting promotion on BookMe. For $115 instead of $140 per person we spent a day exploring the Whitsunday Islands, including a lunch on Whitehaven Beach. The Big Fury is a fast, open-air rafting style boat that can drop you off right at the beach. It has an onboard toilet (convenient!) and can hold 35 passengers. You wont get seasick either, as it seems to slide on top of the water. If you want to book a day trip to the Whitsunday Islands with them, we recommend to check BookMe if there are any deals, otherwise you can book through the Big Fury website. Their trips depart daily at 10h30 from the Abell Point Marina and you’ll be back around 17h.
A day trip to the Whitsunday Islands with Big Fury will consist of a stop at Whitehaven Beach, a stop to do some snorkeling, and during the trip you’ll see some of the 74 Whitsunday Islands. They will pick you up at your accommodation with a mini bus and drop you off again after the boat trip. Lunch, an afternoon snack, and snorkeling equipment are included as well. During our visit the stinger season was on, so they recommend to wear stinger suits for our own protection, as the stings of those little marine creatures can be deadly. A stinger suit is not included though, but you can hire one for $7. Drinks are not included either, except for a cup of water during lunch.
What to bring on a day trip to the Whitsunday Islands
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget to bring on a day trip to the Whitsunday Islands, it’s your swim wear. You’ll need it for a refreshing dip in the water at Whitehaven Beach, for snorkelling, and maybe most importantly: to get a tan. Sunscreen and a towel are necessary as well, and perhaps sunglasses and a hat. If you don’t want to loose your hat, better not wear it on the boat though. It goes really fast, so it gets quite windy. We assumed there would be free drinking water on board, but that was a mistake. They do sell water (and soft drinks) on the boat: $2.50 for a small bottle. So better bring your own water. You’ll be needing some cash as well, to hire a stinger suit and maybe buy a drink or two.
A day exploring the Whitsunday Islands
Our day started at 9h30, when a mini bus came to pick us up at Island Gateway Holiday Park. We were dropped off at Abell Point Marina, where we waited for the other passengers to arrive. Luckily there were benches in the shade, as it was a hot and sunny day. There’s a public toilet nearby as well and you can quickly grab a coffee if you’re still in need of your morning caffeine shot. Before we boarded we had the possibility to hire a stinger suit for $7. At 10h30 most of us were on the Big Fury boat. Some people were late though, which got us a tad annoyed. It’s just that it’s really hot on the boat in the marina. You wouldn’t want to wait there either, so be on time!
After about an hour on the Big Fury, speeding along the Whitsunday Islands, we arrived at (South) Whitehaven Beach. We had about 30 minutes of free time to take a swim, relax, read a book, do whatever we wanted, before it was time for lunch. At the edge of the forest behind Whitehaven Beach are some picnic tables in the shade, where they had set up a cold lunch buffet. The food was quite good, but like mentioned before, drinks are not included, except for one cup of water per person. There were lots of goannas circling the picnic tables, waiting for some leftovers. They’re so big! There are signs warning you not to feed them, but the Big Fury team accidentally did, when suddenly the open garbage bag with the leftovers of the buffet fell. Whoops!
The Big Fury would be leaving again at 14h, which meant we had some time to do the short walk to the lookout. Near the start of the walk are some toilets (without toilet paper), where we made a short stop. The walk takes about 20 minutes and is definitely doable on flip-flops, so no need to bring your walking shoes. I wouldn’t call it a climb, but there are some steps you’ll need to take if you want to get to the lookout. You’ll be walking through a mix of rain forest and regular trees. At the top you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the Whitsunday Islands, especially when going left upon arrival at the lookout. We ended up back at Whitehaven Beach, a little further out than the picnic tables. The sand is white, made of very fine quartz. It’s so pure it squeaks when you walk on it. The guy from the boat even said that you can polish your jewellery with it. The water is very clear, but it’s a shame there can be stingers here, so they recommend you to wear your stinger suit.
The next stop of the Big Fury was near North Whitehaven Beach, to take some pictures from aboard the boat. After another 30 minutes we arrived at the snorkel spot. Time to get in our stinger suits again! For those of you that have never snorkeled before, they explain how it works and how to wear the mask, snorkel and fins. They have floatation devices (foam pool noodles) available as well, if you’re not comfortable in the deep water. Be quick to grab your fins though, as there weren’t any fins left in Brecht’s size. The visibility was unfortunately not that great, but we did manage to find a turtle. We followed it around for most of our time in the water. They’re so fascinating! No pictures from in the water though, as our GoPro broke during our last dive on the liveaboard trip with ProDive Cairns earlier that week. On our way back to the marina we got some cookies, very much appreciated!
Visiting the Whitsunday Islands is definitely a must when you’re in the neighbourhood! Whitehaven Beach is a gorgeous and quiet beach, with crystal clear water. We were very satisfied with the programme and service of Big Fury, although we could have used a little more time in the water for snorkeling. Then again, I could probably swim around forever looking at the colourful fish living in the Great Barrier Reef.