If you have only one week in the Whitsundays, make sure you get to these magnificent anchorages. Whitsunday magic is all about chilling out and enjoying Aussie nature. Snorkel, dive, sail, swim, bush walk, explore, relax and party.
The water is warm, the people are cool and the wildlife is spectacular.
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Here’s my nine most loved anchorages.
Blue Pearl Bay
This gorgeous little anchorage snuggles into the top west corner of Hayman Island. It holds 8 public moorings for yachties and tour vessels. The main reason it’s one of my favourite snorkel spots is that it feels so safe and the coral varieties are amazing. When you get there. try to cover as much ground in the bay area as possible because the underwater terrain has a variety of fields and cliffs and bommies. This gives a home to nearly every type of coral and fish.
Crazy colorful and curious fish will go nuts over a little bit of bread. It attracts them in a frenzy that will have you laughing underwater. Thousands of fish will surround you in a barrage of little flashing bodies. Slowly, the bigger wrasse and careful cod will emerge from the deeper water to muscle their way to the food. Hold you food treats high out of the water and watch the greedy fusiliers try to climb up your arms to get it. Insanity!
Langford is a long sand quay sitting out in the channel surrounded by reef and an islet dots the west end. It is a protection zone for breeding birds. You are welcome to walk on the pitch of sand,infact it is perfect for a game of low tide bikini cricket. Under the water is a rich forest of heavy bodied and beautiful reef. A giant’s coral garden stretches all along the intertidal zone of the beach.
It is best to walk to the west end then drift snorkel back to base or visa versa, depending on the direction of the current. Let the steady flow take you over the muted colors of soft waving corals and the hard pink fans, yellow brains, blue stag horns and orange anemone. Five public moorings are provided plus there is good sand holding on the north bank.
The reef at Black Island is a snorkeler’s dream. There are only three moorings here, so it’s best to wait your turn. During the Aussie Whitsunday winter you will often give way to humpback whales with newborn calves passing through the channel between Langford and Black Island.
The coral is bold and generous and drops off steeply into a strong running current. the best time to snorkel here is on the top or bottom of the tide, when water movement is less. Beautiful little swim off beaches make snorkelling easy and the resident turtles are happy to swim close alongside you.
This wide deep cove on the west side of Hook has six public moorings and a gravel bottom, good holding in all but the strongest winds that tend to bullet down over the hill. It gives solid anchorage protection from the east winds. Access the beach at high tide because the inner reef dries out on low tide making it impassable for tenders. Stonehaven beach is remarkable for its unusual stone erosions, where the large boulders hollow out like half dissolved Maltesers. You can find delicious oysters on the rocks at the south end of the beach.
The secret to great snorkelling at Stonehaven is to use the north and south ends of the bay, not the centre, which is damaged coral rubble. The outer edge of this reef drops away steeply into emerald water. Follow the reef wall to find the biggest, healthiest fan corals plus brain coral and giant cabbage coral forests. The wily fish are aware that this is a yellow zone where fishing is allowed. Stonehaven fish are big and healthy and such clever escape artists.
Nara is a deep V shape tropical fiord. Surroundings on three sides are steep, densely wooded cliffs pock marked with hundreds of small caves. This is the ideal anchorage to hide from strong north winds and a rolling swell, if you tuck up deep into the valley.
Nara holds the secrets and history of Australia’s indigenous sea people the Ngaro. You may walk up a well tended stone staircase carved into the bush cliff. The Ngaro tribe have generously opened an ancient cave dwelling at the top for viewing. The cave walls are blackened from cooking fires, mounds of cast off sea shells attest to the sea peoples diet. Most notable is the remnants of cave paintings depicting the baskets they used to catch and store fish.
Nara at night is one of the finest places to snuggle on the foredeck to watch shooting stars dissect the Milky Way. One of the loveliest memories I have of Nara is one night, a lone trumpeter played a clear and perfect rendition of ‘I am Sailing’. We all sat in silence until he finished and then the crews of about 40 vessels erupted in applause.
Here is a mini mecca for visitors to the Whitsunday Islands because of the magnificent views from the lookout. I’m always surprised by the huge number of giant green back turtles that are hover around Tongue Bay. We counted thirteen in one day. It’s also a popular spot for hammerhead sharks and dolphins too. The sea swell manages to creep into the bay during southeast trades but you can sneak up close to the south wall reef to get a comfortable anchor down in gravelly sand.
Be sure to time your visit to Tongue Bay with the high tide for easy beach access and climb the trail to the top of the lookout. It is an easy walk to the summit to get the best view of Hill Inlet which winds like a turquoise serpent into the heart of Whitsunday Island. The vast stretch of Whitehaven Beach is magnificent from the Tongue Bay Lookout. Take the left track downwards, to swim with baby rays in the crystal waters beneath the headland. On a good sunny day, it is hard to say goodbye to this pristine beach.
The two best views of Hill Inlet are found at the lookout at Tongue Bay or you can climb up the small mountain half way along Whitehaven Beach. Adventurous sailors can take a shallow draft vessel up the Hill Inlet creek to anchor on the back of Whitehaven Beach. The creek weaves a couple more kilometers into the interior of Whitsunday Island itself. Mangroves and stingrays, cockatoos and Pied Oyster Catcher colonies keep the inlet feeling ancient and protected.
Famous for the whitest sand in the world, Whitehaven Beach is absolutely stunning and perfect for a romantic walk along the 8 km of pure, clean sand. The water is so crystal clear you can see the grains of sand in 4 meters depth.
On windy winter days it is warm and calm for swimming at the south end of Whitehaven. This is also where you can take in more of the fabulous views. A beautiful bush trail leads uphill through a variety of littoral rainforest and native scrubland to a lookout where you can see south to Hamilton Island and north back over Whitehaven and the islands. The local lace monitors keep an eye on all proceedings.
Please avoid the temptation to feed the friendly wildlife, because it risks disease and accidents. Whitsunday Islands are monitored by rangers from The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. They do an amazing job of keeping the whole Whitsunday area in its natural state. They are super friendly people who have one of the best work environments in Australia. They are also very professional and will definitely issue heavy fines if you are found to interfere with the local flora and fauna.
This is my #1 most favorite place to snorkel because it is open to the wide Coral Sea. I love snorkelling in places like this which have a real feel of remoteness. Mantaray is out on the wild and rocky eastern corner of Hayman Island. The coral reef at here was demolished by a cyclone in 2014 and has not yet recovered. But tell that to the resident fish! The fish life at Mantaray is unbelievable.
It’s unusual to see more than one adult male Maori Wrasse in a single location. Like lions, the Maori Wrasse have a harem of females and are extremely territorial. At Mantaray I saw 3 of the big blue beauties living happily side by side. They are about 4 feet long with big thick blue lips and a fat blue body. They seemed intrigued by our presence and judging by the friendly way they followed us around, I guess they were hoping to be fed a nice morsel of fresh squid.
All of the fish at Mantaray are big. I didn’t see any little neons or damsels or Nemos like we found at Blue Pearl. Instead, there were hundreds of large multi colored parrot fish, Giant Trevally, sparkle dotted trout and camouflaged cod.
The best memory I have of Mantaray happened on a calm, clear early morning. We had slept overnight on the easternmost at the foot of the sheer rocky cliffs. I was laying in my bunk just enjoying the shimmery patterns of sunlight bouncing off the water, dancing on the timber panels in my cabin. I heard a whining, high pitched noise that I thought was a baby goat on the nearby cliff. I went on deck to spot him, but there was nothing out there at all. So I went back to bed. I heard the sound again! Up go I. Nope, nothin’ to see on deck or on land. Yet, back down in the hull I could hear it still. Perplexed, I went on deck again. Just as I turned toward the rising sun, in the far off distance, a whale breached clear of the ocean. Up behind her came a baby whale in a clumsy attempt to clear the surface. Splosh.
It turns out, I can hear whale song through the hulls of our boat. Wow! Since then, I’ve heard them singing many times. I often hear the whales before I see them because their songs travel far underwater. I told you the Whitsundays are magic. You can hear the whales too, when you get here.
Whatever it takes, you’ve got to visit this magic place at least once in your life. It’s unforgettably beautiful. Charter a beautiful catamaran. Sail on one of the famous maxi racing yachts. Take a Dive, or get lessons. Grab some goggles and a snorkel tour, a day trip or two. I hope I bump into you when I am snorkelling at one of these 9 seductive bays.
I am blessed with one of the best jobs in the world.
I get to sail through extraordinary places like the Whitsundays and write about my experiences. I own a business called The Cashed Up Nomad.com which helps people find ways to earn a living online while they travel to these awesome destinations.
I try to help you find a way to live your dream lifestyle, whatever that may be. Find out more about me here.
Of course, not every day is sunshine and pleasure sailing for me. Some days are so uncomfortable it’s best to forget them. I find, however, when a major problem happens there is usually a lesson attached for me. Hey, I’m learning all the time!
Find out what it’s like for me when things don’t go to plan … The Worst Case Scenario For An Affiliate Marketer.
Anyway my lovelies, I have so many photos of the Whitsunday Magic Place. Check out some more below. Leave a comment if you please.
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