If you’re planning a trip to Australia, I cannot stress to you enough how important it is that you go see the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. This was one of the most expensive trips my friends and I went on, but it was easily worth every single penny. We started our journey flying out from the Gold Coast to Airlie Beach, a few hours up Australia’s east coast. Airlie beach was a cute beach town with lots of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. While we enjoyed all of this, we were way more anxious to begin our journey to the Great Barrier Reef. While in Airlie, I stayed in a hostel room for 4 people. I stayed in a room with one of my very good friends, Abigail, and two other students who happened to also be studying abroad at Bond Uni and coming on our catamaran boat.
When the time finally came to get to our catamaran, it was both scary and exciting. The trip entailed living on a sailboat for 3 days. It was clear as soon as we got onboard that our crew was incredible; we had a chef to make us the most awesome meals and guides to help with our snorkeling and scuba dives. The whole boat was filled with Bond students, giving us the chance to meet other great study abroad students from all over. Our crew showed us to our rooms (if you could call them that), which gave us about as much space as sardines get in a can. Although it was slightly claustrophobic, my friends and I were psyched about the weekend ahead.
While on the boat, we all had the option to get scuba certified (or do dives if we were already certified) or just snorkel. I chose to snorkel in order to save some money and be able to relax while exploring the reefs. Each day we were brought to multiple spots to see the coolest coral and fish; each night the crew would show us pictures from the day and pictures of species we might see the next day. Living in such confined space allowed for new friendships to quickly form. After we completed all of our dives each night, we were allowed to hang out on the deck of the boat as late as we wanted, have some wine or beer, and enjoy the company of our new friends. The way I was able to see the stars from the sailboat is still so clear in my mind because I’ve never seen anything like it. With no light pollution in the middle of the ocean, I could make out each star in the Milky Way. I urge everyone to make this trip priority because I truly can’t explain how amazing it was to see.
Along with the GBR, we explored the Whitsunday Islands, which are a chain of islands off the coast of airlie beach. We explored just a handful of these 74 islands, including Hook Island and Whitsunday Island. Whitsunday Island is the largest of the island chain and home to Whitehaven beach, which is one of the top 10 beaches in the world. Because of how the tides change, the water and pure white sand create a beautiful swirl of color that is different every day. We were warned before traveling onto the island to beware: those with pale skin easily burns as the sun reflects off the white sand! All and all, I decided that this was the best trip I had been on so far despite the fact that I did not see a single clown fish. Living away from reality for 3 days was the most incredible experience that I wish I could share with everyone.