The Great Barrier Reef vs Best Beach in the South Pacific

“The voice of the Sea speaks to the Soul”

(Unknown)

Airlie Beach

As a “Kiwi” (New Zealander) I had often heard about the famous “Great Barrier Reef” and I wanted to add it to my bucket list, to see it for myself and enjoy the amazing sights of this natural wonder. So, it was the beginning of another holiday plan and the inspiration for this blog post.

It was a short Jetstar flight as we arrived at Proserpine Airport (in Queensland, Australia) which is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. We had arrived in the late afternoon so it was a pleasant coach transfer to our final destination at Airlie Beach.

Our hotel (in Airlie) was conveniently located just across the road from the beach – awesome! It was an attractive beach, with tall regal palm trees, gently swaying in the breeze (and could have been mistaken for being in Oahu, Hawaii). As an added bonus, there was also a really cool public swimming pool nearby where “water seekers” happily took sanctuary from the sweltering Queensland sun. I know I sure did!

The local “Surf Club” and restaurant was located near the tip of the island, so it became our regular dinning choice and was an enjoyable way to spend balmy, summer evenings.

Airlie Beach is definitely a beach haven for tourists.  It’s a small township with a relaxed, bohemian kind of vibe and perfect for wandering travellers’.

So it was a couple of days of R&R and Island explorations before we hit the “high seas” for our Whitsunday’s Day Tour!

The Great Barrier Reef

It was a quiet affair as we pulled up to the pontoon and our efficient crew, safely and securely anchored our boat.

Everyone was offloaded onto the pontoon and all the water activities were sorted. I decided to dive in head first and headed straight for the water slide!

It took some courage to scoot down that slide, but once I did I remember it being over before it even started and getting slammed into the cold ocean and having “brain freeze” as the seawater rushed up my nose like fizzy champagne bubbles.

It was so exhilarating I did it again and again. After two more fun slides, I thought it was probably time to let the children have their turn……..

Then it was onto the next adventure – deep sea diving or in my reality snorkelling!

For this activity we had to don proper, full length wet suits – which in itself was worthy of a comedy skit.

A crew member had taken one look at us, guessed our sizes and then gave us our wet suits to put on.

So there we were, the last ones left to go snorkelling, lined up and struggling to put on these black wet suits! I honestly had to suck in my guts (stomach) while doing a jig and shaking it, so that I could get this damn suit over the girth of my Maori hips (and other body parts) then have my poor husband somehow try to zip me up to keep “all of this” contained! I was near exhaustion from all the sheer effort and belly aching laughter…….

Anyway, it was time to stop mucking around and get down to the serious business of snorkelling. One by one we entered the water, which was partitioned off with buoys to show the designated areas of where we could snorkel.

Through my mask, the water was crystal clear and a beautiful turquoise blue. I could see other divers and fellow snorkelers around and below me.

Then I watched in complete fascination as a big “Maori Wrasse” fish slowly swam right passed me in all his muted glory – he was massive! I had to have a giggle because of all the fish to appear it ironically had to be a “Maori” named fish, so I took that as a good omen.

It was just the best time! The most relaxing feeling of quiet solitude, absolute sereneness and being one with nature; and after what seemed like an eternity in the water, it was time to head back for some lunch.

Lunch itself was a delicious and sumptuous affair, yum yum………..

After lunch, guests had the option to either take a paid scenic helicopter ride (with a bird’s eye view of the reef) or go in a glass bottom boat and see more of the reef and its delicate ecosystem. I opted for the latter.

Our guides passionately talked about the coral reef and other sea life as we saw sea cucumbers, a variety of fish species and even some turtles – for me the whole tour was an amazing experience and one I will never, ever forget………..

Whitehaven Beach

As the crescendo to snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, another stop on our Whitsunday’s adventure was the beautiful, untouched, white sandy beaches of “Whitehaven” (voted one of the best beaches in the South Pacific).

The waters were stunningly, crystal clear and aqua blue that flawlessly merged into a kaleidoscope of varying shades of turquoise and deep blue. It was definitely a picturesque place to be and see.

I love being by the sea, there seems to be an unknown connection that always weaves its spell on me in a calming way that always revitalises me in mind, body and soul (perhaps this affinity with the sea comes from my Maori heritage when according to our folklore our ancestors migrated from the legendary homeland of Hawaiki and ventured out in Waka (canoes) to seek and discover new lands, namely Aotearoa).

Queensland is so fortunate to be home to the pristine beaches of Whitehaven and in the particular Great Barrier Reef as a precious, natural wonder that deserves to be protected to ensure its continued survival, sustainability and longevity for future generations to visit, experience and enjoy.

Humanity has a responsibility and duty of care to safeguard our environment through conservation awareness and education.

 “Live in the Sunshine

Swim in the Sea

Drink the Wild Air”

(Emerson)

 

 

 

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