If you have been dreamily gazing at photos of the stunning Whitsunday Islands and long to be lying on one of its dazzling beaches, make this a reality by booking a sailing holiday in Australia. Having your own yacht means you can explore at your own pace.
Daytrips to the Whitsundays can sometimes feel rushed, and with 47 islands and islets to explore, it's no wonder. In comparison, going on a yacht charter here means you can see and do what you want, when you want and make sure you do not miss out on the things you have been looking forward to the most.
This part of the South Pacific boasts brilliant sailing conditions which are conducive to a relaxing getaway. Tidal waters have a range of up to 4 m, temperatures vary between 23 and 30 degrees C and wind speeds can be anything from 10 to 25 knots. Such a climate means sailing isn't too stressful, so you can fully appreciate the beautiful islands. Even the tropical shower period of January to March does not have to be completely avoided, as when it does rain, it's only occasional and often short lived.
One of the best things to do on a sailing getaway in Australia is to explore some of the islands that are a little bit off the beaten track. Thomas Island is quite southerly in its location, which means it is often missed by daytrippers who don't have the time to get there. You, on the other hand, don't have such time constraints, so make sure you add the destination to your itinerary. You can indulge in a spot of swimming or snorkelling off its coast, with angelfish, parrotfish and barracuda some of the creatures that inhabit the waters here. You might even catch a glimpse of a turtle, which would really be a highlight of your time on Thomas Island.
At the other end of the scale, Hamilton Island is a lot busier and a popular overnight anchorage. Like the rest of the Whitsundays, you can grab a snorkel and mask and explore its coral gardens that are teeming with tropical fish. Alternatively, you might prefer to get your adrenaline pumping on a jet ski, or take a gentler approach to exploring the coastline in a kayak.
If you'd prefer to stay dry, sip on a cool cocktail at a poolside bar, hit the shops or spend the night here and dance the evening away in one of the clubs after a sumptuous meal at one of its chic restaurants.
Whichever island you stop off at, snorkelling and diving are popular activities thanks to the Whitsundays being nestled within the Great Barrier Reef. This famous UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the biggest draws to the north-east of Australia, and the best places to explore it begin in Cairns in the north and stretch south along the east coast to Airlie Beach, which is where the majority of Whitsunday sailing charters begin.
There are 400 varieties of coral, 4,000 types of mollusc and around 1,500 species of fish, making it the world's biggest collection of coral reefs. You will have plenty of opportunities to delve underneath the waves on a sailing holiday here, as you have the freedom to stop at various points to jump into the ocean. Of course, you will have to avoid some areas in order not to damage the reef with your boat, but this will all be explained to you before you set sail.
If some of your party don't want to snorkel or dive, they can relax on deck with a good book and make use of the kitchen facilities - they might even be nice enough to prepare lunch while the rest of you keep your eyes peeled for Australia's famous aquatic life!
Another popular place to head to on your Whitsunday charter is Whitehaven Beach, which is probably one of the most photographed places out of the entire mass of islands. You will understand why when you step on to the white silica sand, as it truly is dazzling and made all the more impressive by the crystal clear waters. The sand is a unique type that does not get hot, no matter how bright the Australian sun shines. This means you can stroll along the beach barefoot, without worrying about burning your soles.
Walk to the northern point of the sand for the chance to see amazing colours and patterns created by the grains and water crashing into one another with the tide. This place is known as Hill Inlet, and quite often people do not stroll far enough to reach it. Come early in the morning and you can further rest assured of solitude, as many of the tourist daytrips do not arrive at Whitehaven until later in the day.