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Whitsunday Islands Tour With Matador

a group of people on a boat

Whitsunday Islands Tour is based in  Queensland Australia and is home to 74 islands and also considered to be the heart of the Great Barrier Reef which is composed of 2,900 individual reefs and stretches over 2,600 kilometres which is roughly the size of Italy.

These beautiful azure colours from the Coral Sea are best seen by boat on a Whitsunday Islands Tour, Airlie Beach has several charter boat companies that operate overnight tours.

The Team at Matador Whitsundays have been operators in the area for over 15 years, and have just relaunched their boat Matador, I was lucky enough to join them for their maiden journey out from

Airlie Beach on this impressive 85ft maxi sailing machine for their 2-day 1-night tour.
After meeting Mel at the meeting point, we were swiftly given our stinger suits and a roll call was done, from there we met our skipper/captain ‘Finn’ and led down to the vessel.

Our Whitsundays Islands Tour comprised of three crew members, in Finn (our skipper), Craig (our deckhand) and Cal (our host) all of which were very helpful, knowledgeable, funny and most of all friendly.

The Tour Begins

As we passed through the leads of the World renown Abel Point Marina, Craig gave our rather exciting safety brief, by turning something usually quite mundane into a bit of fun.
Craig also explained to us that we would plan on heading to Whitehaven Beach straight away, the mood on the boat went from that of enthusiasm to excitement almost instantly.
It was shortly after, that we were asked if any volunteers wanted to participate in the raising of the main sail to get us to our destination much, much quicker.

After much socialising and a cheeky wine (I’m on holidays) before I knew it we were arriving at Tongue Bay, this is a beautiful little cove, situated on the other side of Hill Inlet lookout.

It was at that moment, Cal appeared from the galley (fancy name for kitchen on boats) and advised us that our Lunch was ready. Beautiful Ham and beef wraps with all the dressings.
We were then ferried ashore to Whitsunday Island on a smaller boat and led on a short bushwalk up to the lookout. This is when the Whitsunday Islands Tour magic really begun!

Whitehaven Beach

For those that have never been to this look-out, I really find it hard to put into words the natural beauty of Whitehaven Beach. This beach in my experience is the best in the World, and rightfully earning the ‘Best Beach in Australia’ award this year.

The beautiful mixture of swirling white sands, together with the ocean colours blue, teal, turquoise to lime green is a real treat to the eyes. It truly is unforgettable. Anyway, I digress, after a few group photos and selfies with new found friends at the lookout we were led down to the beach and were able to spend the next 3 hours to sunbathe, swim, clean our jewellery etc.

Craig then gave us a history talk about the beautiful Whitsunday’s Islands, including local flora and fauna and the story behind Whitehaven Beach’s beautiful white (jewellery cleaning) silica sand. We then split up and found our own piece of perfect.

On the journey, back to our meeting point we reindevued with other passengers, exchanging stories of what we had seen, and how amazing the white sand is. Many other guests had seen eagles, stingrays and lizards.

Back to the boat, we were welcomed by Finn’s smile, map in hand, he wanted to show everyone where we had travelled, where our afternoon snorkel will be and where we would throw anchor tonight. He also answered all questions about the native animals the other guests had seen.

Snorkeling the Reef

Snorkelling at Luncheon Bay was some of the best coral I have ever seen, and also home to the crew’s fish friend; George the mighty Maori Wrasse. A few passengers that had never snorkelled before were identified and carefully guided by Craig. Everyone that wasn’t confident had a pool noodle and made to feel comfortable in the water within seconds. I was actually quite surprised at the difference in confidence from start to finish.

Arriving at our anchorage on Hook Island for the night, we all got to know each other more so. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Cal had again whipped up a brilliant meal, this time; spaghetti bolognese. YUM!

After dinner, we continued to socialize, but before long I was exhausted and retired to my bed. What a truly amazing first day on my stunning Whitsundays islands tour!

Day 2 of the Tour

The next morning, I awoke quite early and thought I’d take the opportunity to head above deck and take in the morning, when I noticed Cal in the galley working away, he politely asked if I would like a tea or coffee and that he would bring it up to me.

I sat up on the deck (with my coffee) taking in the pure silence and tranquillity of the Whitsundays, it wasn’t long until I noticed a loggerhead turtle surfacing not 20 meters from the boat, as Finn had explained the previous night they were certainly common in this area.

This was my little moment I really took away from the trip, sitting on the deck, it didn’t matter what was happening in the world, or even what year It was, the only thing I was interested in was the different hymns the local birds who were chirping to each other at either sides of the cove. It is no wonder the rich and famous travel from their hustle and bustle lifestyles to this environment notorious to inspire.

An hour or so passed when everyone had woken up and breakfast was being served. Finn briefed us on which part of paradise we will be travelling through today, it was decided, Blue Pearl Bay was our destination;  a beautiful spot at the rear of the 6-star One&Only Hayman Island resort . Without further adieu, we were on our way, anyone that wanted to help with raising the sails were broken into a separate group and shown exactly what to do, while I and everyone else cheered them on, the crew were in their element.

Snorkelling in this part of the world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and our final snorkel spot did not disappoint, teeming with marine life we were advised to head down to visit another of Craig’s friends of the sea, this time it was Emo the Nemo, a beautiful clown fish and his family were only meters below the surface being sheltered by sea anemone. We were able to really appreciate this beautiful part of the world for the next hour.

On the boat again, after having something to eat, we were again on our way, this time back to Airlie Beach. I wasn’t alone in thinking that this beautiful trip was coming to an end, a few of us exchanged facebook names, phone numbers and shared travel plans for when we were to arrive back to land.

On the journey back we got another group photo at the bow and the crew thanked us for sharing in the last few days adventure.

Airlie Beach After Party

Back on mainland (sigh) we all met up shortly after at Matador’s after-party for a great, cheap meal and a few drinks at Down under Bar in Airlie Beach. All-in-all, my time on Matador’s Whitsunday Islands tour was truly fantastic from the moment we initially got to the marina all the way through to the last drinks at the afterparty. So much so that I felt compelled to write this in a sort of way to say thanks to the crew.

Kellie McLagan.

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