Before my travels to Australia, I used to look at pictures of Whitsunday Islands, and dream about someday making it there myself. Like seeing the Sydney Opera House with my own eyes, the Whitehaven Beach at Whitsunday Islands also felt like a symbol of making your dreams come true.
And I made it there.
It was as beautiful and fascinating as in the pictures, and we could have easily spend a day or two there.
On our way to Whitehaven Beach we had two stops and a chance to snorkel. First spot was alongside a strip of sandbank which disappears during high tide. It was amazing and the coral was more colourful than the one on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns.
The second spot Mantaray Bay was more about the fish. There were hundreds of them just swirling around you, and a massive Maori Wrasse fish called George. He was very impressive, especially when he was swimming right next to you.
Then we made our way to Whitehaven Beach, that has sand so pure that NASA has a special permission to use the sand for their satellite dish reflectors and cleaning of their space shuttles. Due to the high levels of silica the sand has a very high heating point which makes it easy to walk on as it remains cool during sunny periods.
We were first surprised how the whole island was still quite well in its natural state. There is not much more than nature. The bush, the white sand, the turquoise water.
But it is not quite true. On the other side of the island there are tens of boats docked into the bay. We would move with rubber boats to the shore over coral and be strictly advised to not step onto the coral but leap into the shore. There are some signs and info where to go, there are a man made platforms and a lookout for better view to the Hill Inlet. There is even a bathroom and a few benches for the tired tourists. An empty can of coke stuffed between tree branches. It is not untouched.
While walking on the island, Matthias and myself talked about how it feels a bit like us humans don’t really belong in places like this. It is so pristine and beautiful and out of this world, that the presence of man feels only threatening to it. There has, in fact, been talk about people loving the Whitsunday Islands to death. There were clear signs of some heavy interest for investments in Airlie Beach and the whole Whitsunday region, and frankly, it is scary.
It is a hard discussion.
We need to preserve what we can and keep areas like this and the whole Great Barrier Reef in good condition for the future generations as well. But will people have understanding and motivation to protect something they can’t see and experience themselves? Since truly my travels have opened a completely new depth of understanding in me.
I feel we need tourism so that people will fall in love with these places, but excessive tourism will eventually lead to us loving these places to death.
I have no answers or solutions. What I have is conflicted thoughts even about writing this post and promoting the destination. But how could I not share the place with my family and friends, the place that I so wholeheartedly enjoyed?
Let’s face it: on a scale of awesome, Whitehaven Beach is off the charts.