Our Island Paradise
Some years ago, I was on a photo shoot in Florida, USA looking for beautiful beach images for a book on America. While I followed the coast for days checking out possible sites, the local radio station kept promoting Florida as “the place with the world’s best beaches”.
Every time I heard that huge statement, I thought, “these people need to get out more!”. Some of their beaches are nice, but compared to Australia – well, there really is no comparison. Now I don’t want to sound like a galah but when it comes to beaches, Australia did exceptionally well in the draw.
Australia has so many beaches we could loan a few to other countries and still have thousands to play on. Our island paradise has all types of beaches. We have sand, coral, pebbles, shells, squeaky, golden, white, red, grey and many more shades and textures between.
I would love to share with you just a few magnificent Australian beach locations on islands off our eastern coast that really make my heart sing. Each one has its own unique character. Each of these locations could be captioned with one of my favourite quotes: Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.
Let’s start with some national treasures from Whitsunday Island off Airlie Beach in Queensland.
Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island are among my favourite places on earth. The sand at both locations is practically pure silica. In bright sunlight it is such a radiant white you will definitely need sunglasses. You will also need plenty of sunscreen – be sure you apply it well to combat reflected as well as direct light.
The walk down Whitehaven Beach to Hill Inlet at its western end looks deceptively short, but in fact the beach is over six kilometres long. On a clear day, it just doesn’t get any better than this place for swimming. Big waves are rarely a problem, as Whitsunday Island is protected by the Great Barrier Reef. One of the best ways to enjoy this location is onboard a yacht – then you get to stay when most visitors have left for the day.
If you do choose the long walk down Whitehaven Beach, you can really only explore Hill Inlet at low tide. You need to get across to the other side of the inlet to see some of the best photo opportunities and you need to be mindful of the tide changes. A far better way to really enjoy this place is by a small boat charter that comes into Tongue Bay, west of Hill Inlet. Then it’s an easy stroll over the hill, stopping to admire the view from the lookout, and down the path into the inlet. You need hours for a thorough exploration of all Hill Inlet has to offer. Take a cooler with cold drinks and food and you truly will be in Paradise. Few people usually make it to this haven, as numbers are restricted.
Two good locations from which to access to Whitsunday Island are Hamilton Island and Hayman Island.
Hamilton Island is a blast and offers all levels of accommodation. It also has a range of café and restaurant options plus a host of other activities. The island is very user-friendly for families and singles. Children especially love this island as they can misplace their parents and have fun with newfound friends.
Hayman Island is the place to stay when you want to have a very intimate time and be totally pampered without any distraction from children, other guests or staff. This island offers a wide range of activities, with some other great locations close by Blue Pearl Bay and Langford Reef.
While visiting this area, make sure you include a helicopter flight, as Whitsunday Island and the nearby Great Barrier Reef are spectacular from the air.
To add some variety to the mix, another great island getaway is Lizard Island, off the Queensland coast north of Cooktown. You can get there by air or by boat. The Island has some of the highest rated diving spots in Australia and is endowed with stunning natural beauty and a 5 star resort. Wow – what a wonderful place to stay! Lizard Island also has stunning beaches. Some are so beautiful they could be used for romantic movie sets. As I waited for the right light – often for hours – occasionally a couple would wander in as if auditioning for a part.