FREE TO EX­PLORE

SAIL AWAY FROM SCHED­ULES AND WIFI — BARE BOAT­ING IN THE WHIT­SUN­DAYS IS A CHANCE TO DIS­CON­NECT FROM RE­AL­ITY

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - ESCAPE - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: JULES INGALL For more in­for­ma­tion or pic­tures, go to In­sta­gram or Face­book Jules Ingall Pho­tog­ra­phy or Tourism Whit­sun­days.

We’ve all heard of the Whit­sun­days and prob­a­bly day­dreamed about the white sandy beaches of White­haven, Hay­man and Hamil­ton.

The Whit­sun­days ac­tu­ally con­sists of 74 is­lands, many of which are un­in­hab­ited, and there is so much more to the re­gion than the post­card pic­tures we love.

There are sev­eral ways to ex­plore the is­lands and the outer Great Barrier Reef.

Lux­ury lovers can splurge on a sea plane or he­li­copter, but if you want to be a lit­tle more ad­ven­tur­ous and re­ally im­merse your­self in de­serted is­land life, there’s no beat­ing a boat.

Day tours are avail­able with var­i­ous com­pa­nies and these are great if you’re short on time, but the tour boats are pretty set in their itin­er­ar­ies.

The truly best way to voy­age around the Whit­sun­day Is­lands is by pri­vate boat.

If you don’t have a 50ft yacht at your dis­posal, the fan­tas­tic op­tion of bare boat­ing al­lows you to char­ter your own lux­ury pri­vate cata­ma­ran.

Interesting fact: the Whit­sun­days is the only place on earth you can char­ter your own boat with­out hav­ing to hold a boat li­cence.

You are given a three-hour in­duc­tion and crash course in sail­ing and, as long as you man­age this OK, the keys are pretty much handed over so you can sail away solo.

If you’re not con­fi­dent, there is the op­tion of tak­ing a skip­per along for the ride to sail you wher­ever you please.

Dream Yacht Char­ters based in Air­lie Beach is one of the more pop­u­lar com­pa­nies in the area. Their boats are all re­ally mod­ern and great value. The four birth boats will com­fort­ably sleep eight peo­ple and, once you have stocked up on food, you have ev­ery­thing on board to take off ex­plor­ing. With the lux­ury of a few days aboard, you can travel to beaches and is­lands that are com­pletely un­in­hab­ited and be the only boat around for miles. With no phone or in­ter­net ser­vice, it’s like be­ing to­tally dis­con­nected from re­al­ity, laz­ing your days away is­land hop­ping, swim­ming and snorkelling the reefs.

Pull up to your own pri­vate beaches or reefs and ex­plore for as lit­tle or as long as you like, un­re­stricted by tour sched­ules. With so many is­lands and hid­den coves, you have the com­fort of know­ing that no mat­ter the con­di­tions there is al­ways some­where you can moor for pro­tec­tion from the weather.

Af­ter your sea­far­ing so­journ, ease back into re­al­ity with a few days hang­ing out in Air­lie Beach. It’s a small town with a very tran­sient feel thanks to all the back­pack­ers and tourists.

Boast­ing a beau­ti­ful bay and fore­shore shad­owed by a hill over­look­ing the is­lands, you can pretty much walk ev­ery­where.

With a ma­rina at one end con­nected to the la­goon at the other end by a board­walk, stroll around cute bou­tiques, cafes, bars and restau­rants, or visit the Satur­day Mar­kets.

Air­lie Beach is known for its great nightlife, but it’s also fam­ily friendly, es­pe­cially the la­goon with its shel­tered pool for young­sters and life­guards for peace of mind.

The best part of all, while the south­ern states are shiv­er­ing, the Whit­sun­days ex­pe­ri­ences some of its most ideal hol­i­day con­di­tions. Ex­pect warm, calm weather with­out the crowds.

EYE ES­CAPE

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