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I love the Whitsundays

Whitsunday Coast Vs. Whitsunday Islands

Boathaven Resort - Saturday, June 19, 2010

There is no arguing at all, if it was not for the Whitsunday Islands most of the tourist would not come here. The 74 islands that make up the Whitsunday group are amazingly beautiful, majestic, and definitly the main draw card to get people to come Whitsunday region.

The question is "Should we stay on one of  the Whitsunday Island Resorts or on the Whitsunday Coast

I know your thinking, this is a blog from a Whitsunday Coast accomodation website so of course it's going to be biased toward the Whitsunday Coast. Well,  I am going to try my hardest to be as accurate as possible about both options as they both have positve and negative attributes. I lived on the islands for 6 years so I have a good idea about both options.

Everyone going on holidays has this romantic idea of staying on a tropical island, drinking a frozen cocktail served to you around the pool, watching amazing sunsets whilst dining on the beach,  and no other people around you. Hey, it's what they show in the pictures so why would you not believe that is exactly how it's going to be. Believe me, it can be like this, but you need to do your research and pick the right island for what you are wanting. Remember the more secluded = the more expensive.  Picking the right island is key because once your there you can't decide at dinner that you would rather be somewhere else, there is no were to go.
If you can't afford the Whitsunday Island Resort you believe is the right one for you, please do not just find one that meets your pricing level and pick that one. When I say you NEED to make sure you do your research and pick the island resort that best suits your needs, i'm serious. I guarantee you that not all islands resorts are equal and it may be the only similarities they have are that they are surrounded by water.            If you have kids you need to make sure that they don't just "allow" kids but that they have a program for the kids and they "welcome" kids. Sitting around the pool reading the latest novel may sound like heaven to you but I can guarantee you that it is not the idea your kids have of a holiday.  If you are wanting Whitsunday Honeymoon then you may want to look for the "no kids" policy because the last thing you want to do is have screaming toddlers at every meal and pram jam in the lobby while your trying to book a Great Barrier Reef tour.

If your a foodie and expect a certain choice or style of foods,  call the resort and ask specific questions about your dining options. The worst thing that could happen is you arrive on the island with your five night, non-refundable holiday, and the only options are buffet breakfast, a seafood a la carte option for lunch, and a themed dinner buffet each night. If your not into seafood or prefer a lighter option you could be out of luck.  Most of the island resorts offer more than one dining outlet and some resorts have a large variety to choose from, but it's always best to check what is available and is it in your budget.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen families share a large basket of hot chips because they had no idea how expensive the meals were on the island they went to. There are some AMAZING food options on the islands so don't be weary, just be informed. Dining and beverages on islands are typically much dearer (not always but most of the time) than the same option on the mainland for obvious reasons.
On the mainland, Whitsunday Coastal region,  you have the most variety of dining options and prices from fast food outlets to upmarket dining on the waterfront. You also have the choices of food style like Chinese, Thai, Japanese, modern australian, steaks, seafood, pub style, Indian, Italian, and Mediteranean.  The downside is that you may need to get a taxi or hire a car to get to the restaurants unless your resort is located close to town. None of the resorts have swim up pool bars and 360 degree views of the ocean but most have ocean views.

Access to the Whitsunday icons, the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach, can be limited on the islands. As most of the tours depart from the mainland,  they do not pick up from the island resorts. Some may pick up at one resort, or the other, but none of the resorts offer as many tour options as the mainland does. The islands either have their one tour that is owned by the island or they have one option to go see either iconic destination. It is also hard to travel in between islands. If you wanted to visit another resort island for the afternoon you will find it difficult if not impossible. While from the mainland you can access many islands in just one day.  It may be less expensive to go to the Great Barrier Reef or Whitehaven Beach from the islands as you are located closer to the tour destination. Both the islands and the mainland offer other tour options outside of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach, such as jet skiing, helicopter tours, snorkeling, and sailing adventures. You won't run out of options with either location.

Basically, if all you have ever thought about is having a holiday on a island then by all means do it, as you will regret it if you don't. If you just want to experience tropical islands then stay on the mainland and you will have the freedom to visit the Whitsunday Islands everyday. You will also have a choice of what you want to eat, how much you want to spend, and what style of tour you would like to take. And hands down, the mainland resorts are less expensive than the island resorts so you have more money to experience the wonders of the Whitsunday region.

To tour or not to tour...that is the question.

Boathaven Resort - Monday, June 07, 2010
We get a lot of people visiting and the most common question is "Should we take a tour and if so which one" and then I inveritably get the question "what do you suggest".
The main problem with this scenario is that there is SO much to choose from;  it's like going to Myers and asking a complete stranger what shoes should you get.  I always ask a few qualifiing questions so we can quickly narrow it do to a few options and then I advise the guest to take the brochures away and read for a bit and give us a call with their choice and we will book it in for you.

We have three types of guest when it comes to booking tours - "the ponderer",  the "yep sounds good", and the dreaded "assuminators"  and all have their positives and negatives.
"The Ponderer" - This is the game of 20 questions that never ends. I like these people because 1. it test my knowledge and I always feel like Einstien after they depart and  2. I know that in the end they are going to love their trip because they found the exact trip that suits their needs.  These people are challenging because they forget why they are taking a tour, to relax and enjoy themselves, and focus on the most minute details of the trip that at the end of the day will not make a difference to their experience.

"Yep Sounds Good" - seems like they would be the perfect people you want to book tours and they probably would if it were not for the fact that I actually care about your experience when you take a tour. These people will agree to whatever tour I suggest as long as it is in their price range. I could suggest a 1/2 day snail hunting expedition and I would get Yep sounds good - book us in. I am pretty good a reading people and have a lot of knowledge about the tours so I tend to get it right, most of the time. The issue I have with this group is that I actually sit up at night wondering if they had a good day because I know that the decision was totally mine.

"the Assuminator" - these guest assume there is a tour that can go to Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef all in one day, and don't believe you when you say it is not possible. These people assume that even though you never said it , the tour they chose was serving full seafood buffets for lunch and want an explanation on the return as to why it did not happen. They will book the opposite of what I suggest and then get angry with me when they return because it was not the experience they assumed was going to happen. The one positive is that if you figure out they are assuminators before they book you can use a bit of reverse psychology and get them on a trip that they will really enjoy.

Anyway, enough about the guest, more on the tours.

In the Whitsundays, there are two main options to visit - the beautiful Whitehaven Beach and the iconic Great Barrier Reef.   The Great Barrier Reef is pretty simple, there are two tour companies that visit the actual Great Barrier Reef,  Fantasea Cruises and Cruise Whitsunday.  Both offer relatively the same experience and every seller of this tour has a their preferred fror what ever small reason but you could not go wrong with either of the choices.  Whitehaven Beach tours are as abundant as croc's in the NT. This is were you can come undone if you pick the wrong option for you. Almost all includes some form of snorkeling in a cove with fringing reef as well as a few hours on Whitehaven Beach. The differences would be type of vessel you are traveling in. Small, big, sail, motor cruise, slow, fast - all choices when going to Whitehaven. Some include bush walks, resort island stop overs, and Hill inlet lookout and all include some form of lunch. 
My top 5 ways to see Whitehaven Beach are:
1. Camira - Sailing Catamaran
2. Ocean Rafting - High speed rubber duck boat
3. Mantaray - small numbers, motor cruiser
4. By Helicoptor or Sea Plane w/ a picnic lunch
5. Voyager - Daydream Island, Hook Island, and Whitehaven Beach

And there are a few others worthy of a mention but this is a blog not a novel. 

And last but not least are the "don't fit in the box tours" that are actually some of my favorite of all the tours available in the region.
Most notable would be the EcoJet Safari which is a ocean safari you take on Jet Ski's with a small group and you jet ski around the Whitsunday Islands and up the Proserpine River with croc's (yes I said you jet ski with CROC's) and it is beautiful, fun, interactive, and very unique.
The Crocodile Safari is another that is an oldie but a goodie. This tour is great if you have kids but it's really good if your just adults as well. And no I do not have a thing for croc's, but they are very cool and we seem to have a fair few in the Proserpine River system. You get to see the wetlands as well and have real dampa and billy tea with your lunch, very Australian.
The new inclusion would be the 1/2 day Yellow Sub and snorkel adventure.  This is a great option if you have a late flight, have kids and do not want a full day out, or here just for a short stay but want to see something. You take a high speed boat out to Bali Hai Island for a snorkel (great place to see turtles) and then go in a submarine around the reef system to see all of the sites you could not see while snorkeling. It's quick, fun, beautiful location, and small numbers.

So the answer to the question "should I take a tour" is most definatly YES. Even if it is your 100th time to visit the region, always try and get out on the water or see something new because the Coral Sea is magical. It revives your soul and gives you memories for a lifetime.  If you can't get on a tour then at the very least go and take a drive to see Cedar Creek Falls or Dingo Beach. Don't come to the Whitsundays Coast and sit in your room reading a book, see what all the hoopla is about and be a tourist. Take the tour.



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