Whitsunday Coast Part 2

We woke up bright and early Friday morning ready for our Great Barrier Reef adventure. I was actually terrified because part of the “adventure” was scuba diving- something I have never done before and never had any intention of doing.

IMG_0489As I explained in my Bridge to Brisbane post, I like to play things safe. My husband however does not, so he signed us both up for an intro dive at the reef. We arrived at the Cruise Whitsundays port a solid 30 minutes before our boat left (6:30am) and I proceeded to order food off of the lunch menu because girls gotta eat. IMG_0485We then boarded the large boat/home for the day. There were plenty other tourists and families from all over the world accompanying us on this journey. We met a lovely American crew member who explained to me that they literally hold your hand on the intro dive and the majority of their clientele are terrified at the beginning. I later overheard a pre-teen talking about diving with her mom and that made me feel a little better. My nerves began to calm and I actually started to get excited. It also helped that I convinced Travis I needed an overpriced massage on board before I could possibly be expected to scuba dive.

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The Cruise Whitsundays boat was nice and roomy and included concessions and a bar. They served tea, coffee and fruit for breakfast, a delicious seafood lunch and afternoon tea with biscuits all included in your trip. All of the crew members were enthusiastic and friendly even at the end of the 11 hour trip. We had a great experience with them.

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The Whitsundays consists of 74 different islands, one of the most popular is Hamilton Island with has multiple hotels and restaurants. In fact, this is where Oprah stayed on her trip to the Whitsundays. In case you were wanting to map your Whitsundays vacation after her, Tourism Whitsundays actually has her itinerary here. This would definitely be a great place to stay if you want to spend more time on one island.

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The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,300km and is so large it can be seen from space. The portion we went to was The Hardy Reef. Our boat pulled up next to Reefworld (which I was really disappointed to find was just a pontoon and not an amusement park). Reefworld looks like this:

Reefworld

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It had a massage room, diving and snorkeling areas, tanning deck, underwater viewing areas and a lot of other things you can read about here. We were scheduled for the first time slot of diving, which didn’t give me much time to get nervous. We got all suited up and hopped into a small pool area to practice breathing and whatnot with our guide. At first I kept thinking I was doing something wrong because I felt like I needed more air and wanted to come back up. After I realized that was just normal and that I needed to focus more on exhaling- I was ready to go. Once we dove down into the reef, I completely forgot about breathing or tanks or anything else.

It was incredible. There were all sorts of fish and creatures that you only see on tv or in magazines. They were gorgeous. It was so crazy how close they got to you and how many there were all around you. We even saw a giant Queensland Grouper that looked like this:

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The only problem I had was as we started to go deeper I couldn’t get my ears to pop. This didn’t surprise me because of my lifelong problems with my ears and the artificial eardrum in my right ear. It didn’t bother me as long as we didn’t go too deep. There was a photographer down there with us but we didn’t pay for the pictures so we are going to pretend this is what we looked like.

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Before we knew it, it was time to come back to the surface. We spent the next hour or so snorkeling in the same area. I have never been a big fan of snorkeling but this was unlike any other snorkeling experience I have had. You could see a lot of the same coral and marine life that you could while you were diving. The only reason we finally got out of the water is because we (mostly me) were starving.

Here’s a picture I took from the boat of people snorkeling at the reef.

IMG_0508In case you were wondering where we were exactly, Travis screen shot our location on google maps. He loves doing that.

IMG_0491Here we are at the end of our Great Barrier Reef adventure. IMG_0498

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We got back into Airlie around 6pm. As exhausted as we were, we went back to the apartment to get ready for dinner. This time I consulted trusty Trip Advisor for my dinner choices. Mr. Bones was ranked #1 in Airlie Beach (the previous nights choice was #18 and came after a couple places connected to convenience stores) so we thought it was a safe choice.

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It was a tapas and pizza restaurant with really cute decor. We got the arancini for an appetizer and the lamb pizza for dinner. Mr. Bones did not disappoint and I would definitely check it out if you are in the area.

I will be posting Wednesday about our final day in the Whitsundays where we saw the most breathtaking views I have ever seen in my entire life. Tune in then 🙂

Whitsunday Coast Part 1 and an #HonestInsta

Before I begin a recap of our weekend getaway with breathtaking views and crystal clear water I want to show you a glimpse into our real, everyday, not picture perfect life. My friend (and blogger) Ali does a thing on Instagram called #honestinsta where she shows photos from her everyday life that may not be pretty or “instagram worthy.” I love that idea because we all know that nobody’s life is as perfect as their instagram feed makes it appear but sometimes we forget and it’s nice to know that other people have days without the perfect #ootd or imaculately plated meal.

Well here is my #honestinsta taken the morning we left for our mini vacation.

IMG_0458Rewind to the day before this picture was taken. It was Wednesday and I was packing, cleaning and getting ready for our trip. I was in the middle of doing laundry in our laundry room (which also doubles as our master bathroom) when the door on the washing machine got stuck. That’s the washing machine to the right of Travis and our shower to the left. There’s not much room to get in there and pull. I tried for approximately ten (maybe five) minutes with no success, so I did what I do with everything else in my life and I decided to wait until Travis got home from work to fix it.

Well Travis is super strong and opened it right away (after I remembered it right before we went to bed) but then water started gushing out of the machine onto our floor. After multiple google searches and a helpful Bristish you tube tutorial we thought we had successfully drained the machine. We patted ourselves on the back, threw in a test load and headed to bed.

Sure enough I woke up to get ready to go to the airport and walked into the bathroom to the above picture. DIY fail. As I mentioned in our apartment hunting post the units here are all privately owned. Which means we couldn’t just call the maintenance man to come out and fix it. So here I am, Monday morning, still waiting to hear back from the apartment leasing company.

Alright, so now that you know the Alkek life is not all beaches, koalas and sunshine I will tell you about our weekend at the Great Barrier Reef.

We arrived at Airlie Beach on Thursday around lunch time. Airlie Beach is a town on the mainland that is easily accessible to the various Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. We figured that would be the best home base for us. Our plan was to check in to the hotel and then spend the afternoon lounging on the beach since the next two days were fully booked with excursions.

Our hotel room was actually an apartment that Travis had booked. At first I was skeptical of the place after reading mixed reviews online. After aimlessly walking around (and up and down hills) around the building that needed a fresh coat of paint, I was still not sold. BUT we walked into a very clean, nice apartment with this view from the balcony…

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I have never seen water so blue. It was gorgeous. We changed and went to go to the beach.

That’s when we found out that Airlie Beach doesn’t have much of an actual beach.

We were very confused. We did find this one sandy bank.

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But nobody was on it. Everyone was at “the lagoon” which we found was just a man made beach and pool like Streets Beach in South Bank or the Cinco Ranch Beach Club in Katy. Only there were some topless sunbathers, I don’t think they have those in Katy. We spent the afternoon laying by a fake beach with a real beach only meters away. We were glad the we had booked trips for the next two days. Airlie Beach is cute little backpacker, port town but not much past that.

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It does have some beautiful scenery though. After our low key afternoon we headed back to the apartment to enjoy a beer and watch the sunset from our balcony.

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At dinner Travis ate the Australian plate (crocodile and kangaroo) while I ate a sub-par steak. I think the reason we were told KC’s is the best steakhouse in Airlie is because it is in fact the only steakhouse. Also, we waited over thirty minutes for our check, sometimes I miss a tipping culture.

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After an interesting start to our trip, we went to bed excited for the next day’s adventure of scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 to hear how I conquered another fear and checked something off my newly created “30 before 30” list. You can click the “Follow” button at the bottom of this page to get e-mail notifications of new posts or follow along on Blog Lovin’ (my newest addiction) the link is also at the bottom.