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The Magical Whitsundays
 
whitsundays qldThe beautiful Whitsunday Islands were named by Captain James Cook in recognition of a religious festival, and this seems rather fitting because there does seem to be something rather spiritual about these wonders of Mother Nature. Seventy-four islands can be found just off the coast in this region, and they are like jewels in an azure blue crown of ocean. Many people travel here from across the world to experience the beauty and wonder of these islands and they certainly don't leave disappointed. Coated in thick forest and bordered by pristine white beaches, most of the islands are remote and virtually untouched, and are highly regarded as precious National Parks. A number of them have been turned into resort islands, and these are among the most popular with tourists. The remoter areas and expanses of sea separating the islands are best explored on sailing charters, making this one of the most popular forms of recreational pursuit in the Whitsundays.

There is no better feeling than cruising along deserted waters, breathing in the fresh sea air and enjoying the beauty of the islands. Sailing trips around the Whitsundays can be taken in many ways, in many forms and can go for different lengths. Some of these cruises specifically revolve around passengers and teach them the basics of sailing, and there are others that just allow you to relax and enjoy the scenery. Some go for a few days, and involve camping excursions, while others run for just a single day. One of the most common destinations on these cruises is the glorious Whitehaven Beach, on Whitsunday Island. This beach is so dazzlingly bright it is rumoured it can be seen from space, so make sure you don't forget your sunnies! Another added bonus of this majestic island is the Hill Inlet that lies at the northern end of the beach, where white sands and blue waters seamlessly meet to create a beautiful sight.

One of the great tourism features about the Whitsunday's is that the major resort islands are connected by a network of ferries that leave from Shute Harbour. Shute Harbour is located about ten kilometres out of Airlie Beach, which is the main tourist hub of the Whitsundays. Airlie Beach is the place to visit if you are a big party-goer and is popular with young adults. However, if you are after something a little more grown up and sophisticated, Hamilton Island will be right up your sleeve. This is the largest resort of the island and is practically its own little town. Home to an own airport, ten restaurants, six take away outlets and a growing number of lodges and resorts, this is a holiday destination with a completely different feel to anything on the mainland. There is an unlimited amount of activities on offer, including hiking in the forested hills, waterskiing, windsurfing, kayaking or just enjoying some r and r at the resort pools.

If the ultimate in luxury is what you are after, then book at holiday on Hayman Island, a place where guests enter a world of complete pampering. This is one of the leading resort islands in the world, and it offers a holiday experience that will exceed your wildest dreams. Even the pool is colossal, measuring in at seven times the size of an Olympic Pool. But luxury like this comes at a price, and at the five star Hayman Island, that price is high, so save this for something really special.

Families will instantly fall in love with Daydream Island, because it really isn't that hard. Although is is rather small compared to many of the other islands, there is so much to see and do here, with a special emphasis on family fun. An outdoor cinema shows the latest movies,while a 19 hole mini golf course and a living coral reef in an outdoor aquarium are the perfect activities for the family to participate in. As this is Daydream Island Resort and Spa, there are all the spa facilities here too, so why not enjoy a massage, a sauna or a luxurious jacuzzi. And of course there is the innate beauty of the island to enjoy too, with secluded beaches and lush rainforest all on the doorstep of the comfortable hotel rooms.

Lindemann Island is also big on activities and is packed with fun and exciting things to do. Owned by Club Med, this is the perfect place to get away from it all and enter a world of hassle-free escapism. A full range of club med activities are free to guests and there is a kids club that caters to the under 13 year olds, so while you pass the morning with a round of golf on the nine hole course the kids are well looked after. There is even a flying trapeze and a circus school here! Bushwalkers will also fall in love with this place as well, with over 19 kilometres of well maintained pathways through thick bushland and up high hills. Mt Oldfield is also popular for hiking because once you reach the peak you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the entire surrounding region.

The Whitsundays are an aquatic playground all year round and are one of Australia's most beautiful places. Airlie Beach is 1114 kilometres north of Brisbane, so the most comfortable way to get there from the Queensland capital is by flight. Once you arrive you will be greeted with an abundance of fun and excitement and adventures that will make you want to live the island life forever.

Christine Barton




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