As you may already know, I’m somewhat of an adrenaline junky. Visiting Australia, I believe, is what brought this part of my personality to the forefront. I did so many things there that were out of my comfort zone and visiting Airlie Beach was no exception.
We got a little bit of history on Airlie Beach by our exceptionally awesome tour guide, Trys, who kept us in stitches the entire two weeks we were traveling with him. According to Trys, “airlie” means “no beach” in the local aboriginal language but there isn’t a profound beach in Airlie Beach. Kind of punny. ;) Upon further research, however, it is assumed that the name “Airlie” came from the Scottish Parish of Airlie; not as fun but still interesting.
So the cool thing about Airlie Beach is that it is basically the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. What are the Whitsunday Islands? A stunning series of islands off the east coast of Australia. I know I say a lot of places are beautiful or the prettiest place I’ve been, but when I talk about the Whitsunday Islands I mean it. They’re the most beautiful islands I think I’ll ever encounter. The sand is unbelievably white, the water is so clear you can see straight to the bottom in over twenty feet, and a lot of the islands are virtually untouched by humans & development. There are over one hundred and fifty islands (some argue that there are only seventy-four islands but the number has greatly increased after more and more people examined them). Surrounded by coral reefs and teeming with wildlife, the islands are a must-see if you’re in Australia.
We partnered with Ocean Rafting Airlie Beach for our island-hopping adventure. They take you on giant, high-speed rafts to visit different islands in the Whitsundays, including a stop on Whitehaven Beach. When we stopped at Whitehaven, we took a bit of a hike to get the views that so many tourists rave about. On our way to the trail, we came upon a rather large group of soldier crabs who were so small that they made it seem as though the sand were shifting. Once we made it to the lookout point, we were left with stunning views. I’ll let the pictures explain, because words don’t do the view justice – and to be completely honest, neither do photographs.
We also got to make a stop near a reef, where we put on full-fledged wetsuits and plunged into the surprisingly cold water. We were told a pretty helpful tip here in regards to snorkeling – don’t wear flippers if you can help it. When you wear flippers, you can unknowingly hit a piece of reef and break it off. This is an issue because reefs are homes to multitudes of wildlife and are constantly at risk of destruction, whether that be from pollution, tourism, or another source. Tourists wearing flippers are doing a lot of damage to reef systems all over the world, not just in Australia, and it’s an extremely hard & timely task for them to build themselves back up. Definitely take a look and snorkel around, but don’t touch.
Our last stop was on another island, where we got to hop off of the raft, have a bit to eat, and enjoy the warm day before heading back in to Airlie Beach for the night.
My travels through Australia are thanks to International Student Volunteers (ISV). Without their opportunities, guidance, and expertise I would never have been so bold to have taken this trip. Kudos to ISV! If you're interested in taking the adventure of a lifetime, definitely check out their website here.
Hi, I'm Madeline
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