The last three days have easily been some of the HAPPIEST three days of our travels so far. It would be unfair to say they’ve been my favourite, because there’s been way too many special experiences in the last year and three months, and it’s impossible to compare them.
The main thing that has made the last three days so amazing is that it’s just been non-stop paradise from start to finish. It all started when we found out we didn’t have to go to the ferry terminal at Airlee beach until 2pm on Wednesday, which meant we didn’t have to get up early yayy! Doesn’t sound like much but both me and Jenny really struggle with early mornings these days- I feel like I’m fifteen again. Even when I’ve been working full time the last five months, the earliest I’ve had to get up is 8.
The next thing was that on our boat journey from Airlee beach to Paradise Cove resort, we saw some dolphins swimming by. It was hot, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the water was pristine. Because we’d used Happy Travels to book this trip, we just went with the flow again and never actually researched where we’d be staying etc. (despite having all of the info on us haha), but I’m glad we didn’t now because when we finally showed up we had the BEST surprise.
All together, there was no more than 25 of us and that included the staff. Paradise cove resort is this tiny, tiny resort right on the beach, surrounded by forest with not a single shop/bar/restaurant or road in sight. The 84million dollar (including the land) resort was originally (and still is) a holiday home for a very wealthy man. With that in mind, you can imagine how luxurious the architecture was, as well as all the furnishings and garden and beds and swimming pool and bathrooms and just the whole package. With my clumsy reputation, I was scared to even breathe around the furniture.
We got off the boat and had our first lot of unexpected free food; crisps, dips, olives, cheese, cakes, tea, coffee. Then we were shown around the beautiful grounds, everything built from marble and stone and hidden away in bushes and trees. We could immediately pick out who in the group were long term backpackers, because we were all walking around scared to touch anything, feeling like it’s Christmas and saying things like “oh my god they said they’re going to cook and wash up for us, WE DON’T HAVE TO WASH UP”, “there a bathroom IN THE DORM, and a drinking water tap IN THE ROOM”, “THERE’S BLANKETS”, “there’s shampoo and conditioner”, “There’s an actual fridge, in the actual room”.
Me and Jen shared a room with these two girls from Germany who were lovely. The beds were sooo marshmallow-like and everything was so peaceful- felt like we had a whole private island to ourselves. Waking up each morning and remembering we were in paradise was the happiest realisation ever.
The afternoon was spent kayaking on still waters and snoozing on hammocks reading books beneath palm trees. At 7.15 we all had dinner- veggie patty with mash and coleslaw and apple pie with custard. Afterwards we had a campfire and roasted marshmallows by the sea.
For the first time, I got to see a really clear vision of the Milky Way, another massive tick off my bucket list! I have never seen so many stars in my life, and even better that we could see Jupiter and Mars at the same time also. By the time I got into bed my neck was actually aching from craning it back so much haha.
On the first night I saw a shooting star just as we were walking back to our LUXURY dorm. The second night we pulled up bean bags and just stared up at the sky in awe for about an hour, talking about planets and black holes and aliens and everything space related, which made me very happy because it’s my favourite topic of conversation after food and dogs.
I’ve noticed down here (down under), when it’s a crescent or half-moon, it’s actually the shape of a smile, rather than be turned to the side. I know that’s probably something really obvious considering we are down under, but I hadn’t really thought about it properly before so it was quite a nice thing to notice.
Waking up the next day and remembering where we were and what we were doing was the BEST feeling ever. Especially considering we were asleep by no later than 11 the night before, after I’d eventually stopped smiling and calmed down and one of the girls in the room had stopped sleep talking. We had a free breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt, toast with lots of different spreads and tea and coffee.
Our first snorkelling spot was part of the Great Barrier Reef, but as pointed out by Ryan our tour guide, this section of the reef was considerably more colourful, because it hasn’t been bleached. It was pretty shocking to see the difference between where we swam the first time and where we did on this day. It’s really heart-breaking to know that due to global warming, a shocking 93% of the Great Barrier reef is now bleached (corals expel the algae living in their tissues when the temperatures are too warm and this causes them to go white). I feel lucky to have been able to swim in part of the 7% that hasn’t reached that stage yet, but sad to realise that by the time I come back here, or have kids, it could be at 100%.
As I was swimming, I spotted what I thought was a tangled up plastic bag floating around, so I thought I’d pick it up ya know- do my bit. Luckily I held back when my gut told me it was a bad idea and I looked closer to see it was actually a JELLYFISH! After seeing that one more and more appeared, but luckily I only got a small sting on my foot and one on my arm; we were wearing wetsuits otherwise we probably would have been covered).
The last thing you want when you’re in Australian waters is to see something that looks scary or feel yourself get stung because naturally you’re going to assume it’s something deadly and I started convincing myself I was stung buy one of those tiny stingers and I was going to die. In the end me and Jen jumped on Ryan’s raft because we were too scared to swim through the jellyfish back to the main boat haahah.
To be fair, the stings didn’t really hurt at all. Back in my Bulgaria days me and my friends used to digs holes in the sand and collect jellyfish in them. Even worse, we used to pick them up in the sea- THROW THEM AND PEOPLE- and then duck under water and hide. We were kids- don’t judge L but since then whenever I see jellyfish I just have this instant paranoia that I’m going to get karma for it. Like they’re all going to know it was me and surround me and sting the sh*t out of me.
If you have Instagram, you’ve probably seen about 100000 photos of Whitehaven beach, Whitsunday island; it’s probably one of the most Instagram-able places on the planet! It seemed to be everywhere I look along the East Coast, advertised in every travel shop and every brochure, which worried me a bit because then you have this big built up idea about how amazing it’s going to look and then there’s the fear you’re going to get there and it’s going to be a disappointment.
But she’s just as pretty in the flesh! Especially whilst the suns out because it makes the clear waters look extra glittery and see through and makes the swirly sand extra white. Plot twist- the famous blinding sand on Whitehaven beach isn’t actually sand- it’s white silica. White silica is quartz that over time has been broken down by wind and water into miniature granules. When you pick up a handful of normal sand, you can pick out lots of different colours/shapes/sized from the crushed up shells and stone. When you pick up handful of Whitehaven sand, all the little granules are completely identical. It’s great for exfoliating your skin and hair and whitening your teeth!
One of my highlights of the trip was soaking in these outdoor, rainforest baths! I haven’t had bubble bath for sooo long, so to be able to have one next to my bestie, in the middle of the forest, using natural, vegan shampoo and conditioner, reading a book and listening to Jorja Smith was perfection. It was so relaxing we ended up staying in there for an hour, and only got out because it was nearly dinner time (such a hard life).
Dinner that night was a Thai green curry with spring rolls, and chocolate mousse and ice cream for after. By this point our little group became more like a family, so everyone was just chilled, getting to know each other better and enjoying each other’s company. I love that the group was small, intimate and a good mixture of people from all different ages and backgrounds. The final bit of the night was spent stargazing before getting another perfect nights’ sleep.
Saving the best bit of the trip until last- I am actually shocked at the amount of humpback whales we’ve seen over the last few days. It’s been such a dream come true. Obviously when I was working back in Perth, I saw whales on a regular basis passing by, but it was always from such a distance. Then seeing those Mink whales up close the other day was just such a surreal experience.
On the second day we saw a mummy humpback, teaching her baby how to come to the surface for air. We also saw a bigger group of humpbacks popping up in the distance and even saw a HUGE one throw herself out of the water and breach for us. But on our last day, on the way home it was the best of all.
We first of all saw a mummy and baby (potentially the same ones as the day before), popping up and down and flicking their tails up and we actually saw the baby throw itself in the air learning to breach. We were no more than 20metres away from them, so we could clearly see their white bottoms and smooth tops, bumpy mouths and hear everything from their bodies crashing back into the water to the water spurting out of the top.
After that, just as we were about ten minutes away from the marina about to say our goodbyes, we saw three or four more humpbacks, all hanging around together as a family and just going crazy splashing around. No matter how many we saw over those days, the novelty never wore off. The only thing is now I’m even more obsessed with them as I was before I ever got so close to them!
All in all, when being on the move and lugging bags round and sleeping in gross dorms with smelly people and people that snore, the last few days have just been so therapeutic and pampering, which was the last thing I expected which is why I loved it even more hahaha.
Once again we booked all of this through Happy travels, but the actual company we used was called Red Cat adventures, and our tour specifically was ‘Ride to Paradise’. They have plenty of other options for people who would rather stay on the boat for the entire time. You can research a bit more HERE.
We’ve got a few days/nights of chill now at Airlee beach before we travel down to Rainbow beach to do Fraser island. It’s really nice here- just a small seaside town with lots of cute live music bars and hippy shops and cheap places to eat. Hopefully I can build up a bit of a tan now!
A few people keep asking me if I’m dreading going home, but to be honest I’m actually really looking forward to it now. I have my plan in place with exactly what I’m doing when I get back, and already know when I’m going to be doing my next trip! To be honest, after some of the things that have happened the last couple of days I’m even more ready to return. If you read my last post you’ll know that we went to a chip shop that not only didn’t have curry sauce, but made us PAY for vinegar. Well as I’m writing this, I’ve just been served a scone with orange jam and WHIPPED CREAM. I can’t possibly stay in a country that breaks the rules like that I’m done, I’m out.