Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
90Trip End Aug 14, 2009
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There are dozens of tour operators offering boat trip around the islands, we chose one that took us to Hill Inlet Lookout, Whitehaven Beach then to Mantaray Bay at the north of Hook Island.
Our boat, The Mantaray, set off at 8:30 for the hour's journey to Hill Inlet. After being dropped off (a wet landing), we climbed to the Lookout which gave a wonderful view of the islands & Whitehaven Beach. On the way up, we brushed passed an enormous spider having its lunch, then at the edge of the path we saw one snake eating another snake that was almost as big as itself - move over David Attenborough.
We then had a couple of hours on Whitehaven Beach, which must be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The white silica sand is so fine, it squeaks when you walk on it & the surrounding waters, like the lakes in New Zealand, have a turquoise sheen from light reflecting from suspended particles.
I don't think any photograph can really capture its beauty (not even mine). The beach was empty apart from passengers from the boat & several thousand blue bodied spiders moving like an army towards to water.
Our boat then took us to Mantaray Bay which is one of the best places to snorkel in the islands. As it was still "stinger" season (box jellyfish stings can be fatal), we had to wear wetsuits. It took three people to help me into mine (wetsuits are difficult to get on with two hands, impossible with one). I also wore a buoyancy jacket ('cos I'm not a very strong swimmer), so I could only paddle around on the surface with my head underwater.
When underwater, I saw an amazing array of fish, they must recognise the boats & come to be fed. The crew kept lobbing fish-food around us, so the sea boiled with feeding fish. My favourite fish was an enormous (1.5 m) Napoleon Maori Wrasse who kept swimming round the boat & bumping into me (he's the one with the bump on his head).
Utilising my new underwater camera case (see photo), I managed to take some pretty snaps to bore you all with. I was soon knackered though & joined Barbara in the rubber dingy looking through a "coral viewer" at the reef - much easier.
We motored back to Airlie Marina, through a twilight yacht race, thoroughly exhausted after a wonderful day out.