The next stop along the coast was Airlie Beach … a bit of a backpacker party town and the jumping off point to see the famous Whitsunday Islands.
We had thought a lot about how to best see the Whitsundays. Most people take a day trip out to its most famous beach (Whitehaven), which is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world. The problem is that you land on it at the same time as hundreds of other day trippers do … taking away from that “deserted, tropical beach” experience. People have told us that it’s like a locust swarm descending on a farm … apparently the beach turns into a wild mixture of picnic ground and football field within minutes. Probably the best option is to take a multi-day trip out on a sailboat, slowly cruising the many islands and getting to the popular spots early in the morning or late in the evening (without the day guests). But the weather was quite overcast and the forecast called for rain … which made it too risky to spend $1600 on an overnight trip (image what the multi-day trips cost).
So instead we watched the weather forecast very closely and I jumped on a scenic flight as soon as the weather looked clear for the next few hours. Anna called it an early birthday present for me and volunteered to stay behind with the kids.
A few more pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uwefassnacht/sets/72157633725538520