From Rainbow Beach it was only a short eleven hours or about a thousand kilometers to Airlie Beach and that´s where we headed - though not in one go. We stopped in Tin Can Bay to feed some dolphins, Seventeen Seventy and Carmila Beach (which was not as idyllic as it sounds - safe to say: Croc country starts here), but mostly it was a whole lotta driving through sugar cane fields. We had heard lots of good about Airlie, but sadly were quite disappointed. To be honest one day here would have been plenty and the city was extremely centered around drinking. Not terrible, but not really what we were after. Most people here are waiting for their boats to go on their Whitsundays cruise and since these trips can get quite boozy it felt like people were practicing. There are some nice shops and a lagoon, where you can chill and soak up some sun but again - I feel like that can all be done in a day.

Our Tour

Since we booked a double deal, we were set to get the boat Habibi, which has a reputation of being a budget version of the sailing trips around the Whitsundays. I personally was completely happy with what we got, but there are plenty of boats and so many options to choose from. We chose the three days, two nights trip and I personally would think you need at least that to have an actual experience. Sailing takes more time than you think.
Before you head out, you will probably stay at one of the two hostels in town, who offer the different tours. They are both huge, both full of party people and both have a bar so I am pretty sure you will be fine with either one. You head out to the docks quite late so you have plenty of time to get breakfast and lunch and some sun before you sail into the sunset. You can only take a bag with no zippers, because the boats are pretty prone to bed bugs and apparently they like zippers? Sorry for that disgusting piece of information, but I kept wondering why they said zippers were not allowed. Again you only need the essentials: bikini, towel, shorts and a dress and loads of sunscreen. You will not be able to shower longer than five seconds with cold water so you can skip out on shampoo and shower gels alltogether - you are also much more eco friendly that way, being out in the ocean and all that.
One thing you definitely will have to pack: booze. Again bring more than you think you need. You are on a boat out on sea for a couple of days so you will need something to keep you busy. And maybe grab some snacks for in between meals.  I was also happy I brought a book and downloaded some podcast. There is almost no reception so you may not have to charge your phone too much, then again you are going to one of the most famous beaches in the world and you don´t want to run out of battery right before you snap the perfect picture (like the one below lol).

Day 1

Our boat left around 2:30 in the afternoon. You sail out from Airlie towards Whitehaven Beach. We were lucky since we were only about 12 people on our boat so it was not too crowded and we met such nice people on this cruise. 
You start your trip out with some snacks: chips, crackers, cheese and dips - and possibly a sneaky bevvy? - while sailing out. There is really not much on the agenda for the first day so you have plenty of time to get to know your crew and new friends. You will want to skip out on an afternoon dip - apparently in the afternoon is where most shark attacks happen? Shoutout to Straya.
Your first dinner on board is a gorgeous barbecue with loads of different salads, breads and different kinds of meat. In general I absolutely loved the food on board and I was so happy there was enough for every meal. 
One word about the beds: terrible. But very much worth it for two nights for two nights at sea and a beautiful experience. Best way is to drink enough to make it through the night and forget about it as soon as you can. One option may be to carry your matress up to the deck and sleep under the stars since it gets so horribly sticky and hot under deck.

Day 2

You start your day with a litte sail pre breakfast, which can be a little challenging even if you don´t get seasick normally. Breakfast is a variety of cornflakes and muesli, fresh fruit salad and toast- again so delicious! 
And afterwards it´s on to the number one reason people sail the Whitsundays: Whiteheaven Beach. It´s one the most beautiful beaches, Pirates of the Carribean was filmed here and it is just as mindblowingly beautiful as you would imagine. You have plenty of time to head up to lookouts for pictures, for sunbathing and for a swim in the ocean. You crew will advise you to wear stinger suits - basically thinner wetsuits - if it is jellyfish season and I would stick to that recommendation. The jelly fish here not only hurt, some of them are actually extremely dangerous and I don´t feel like it is worth it to waste your vacation just to look cooler on the beach. 
After the beach it is on to your spot for the night - after lunch that is: sandwhich meats, bread and different salads. When you arrive you get to snorkel for a bit. It was gorgeous, even though I was heartbroken to see how many of the corals had died already.
Dinner on your last night is spaghetti, garlic bread and salad. You then spend the night stargazing, listening to some tunes and if you are really, really lucky like we did you get to watch wild dolphins hunt around your boat. It was so magical and I am still so in awe that it happened and so was our captain, who has been out to sea for twenty years. 

Day 3

Another early morning for one last pre breaky snorkel and then breakfast before you sart making your way back to Airlie. I know this itinerary does not sound like an intense itinerary, but you do need quite some time to get from A to B on a sail boat and I am happy we have moved beyond that mode of transportation in the large scale of things.
To summarise: I LOVED our trips even though I hated the beds and I think you shuold definitely do it. Even if it is just for a day or just for Whitehaven you really should go, it is such a magical place and truly Australian.

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