Airlie Beach Sea Kayaking: Paddling the Whitsundays

airlie beach sea kayaking
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The Whitsunday coast is stunning – white sandy beaches, uninhabited national park islands and famously blue sparkling waters. But before you go booking a sailing trip like most people, why not consider exploring virtually untouched tropical islands by sea kayak?

whitsunday sea kayakingWith over 90 islands in the Whitsunday group in North Queensland, the coastal area around Airlie Beach is ideal for sea kayaking. In fact, this is the perfect way to explore some of the uninhabited national park islands that are close to the mainland.

I’ve always wanted to try sea kayaking but I wasn’t entirely sure if I would like paddling out into the ‘middle’ of the ocean.

However, the idea of exploring some of the beautiful Whitsunday islands that I could see just off the coast, and accessing areas that most people don’t get to see, was too tempting an opportunity to miss.

salty dog sea kayaking

sea kayaking whitsunday islandsWe decided to book a half-day trip from Shute Harbour with Salty Dog Sea Kayaking. It is a small family owned business that’s been run by Hayley and Neill Kennedy since 1997.

They do half day, full day and 6-day guided tours. We decided to dip our toe in the water with their popular half day tour, which is a good option for beginners.

As we arrived the weather was perfect with clear blue skies and very little wind.

Our guide for the day was Hayley who introduced us to our tandem sea kayaks and gave us a quick lesson on the basics before we headed out.

paddles away

seak kayaking airlie beachWe started our trip by following the mainland out of the harbour and soon spotted our first turtle of the day. It was magical being able to get so close.

We quietly rest our paddles on the kayak as the turtle came up to the surface for air before diving back down. This is the beauty of paddling under your own steam – you can appreciate the environment and wildlife without the noise of a motor and smell of diesel fumes.

We rested for a while and took in the views while the rest of the group caught up, and then we headed out into the open water towards our island destination of White Rock.

half time on white rock

picnic on whiterock, whitsundaysThis is a tiny little National Park island, not much more than a large rocky outcrop with a coral beach. It is a great spot for snorkeling with a fringing coral reef.

We pulled our kayaks onto the beach and then jumped into the lovely warm water. It was like a bath and I could have floated there for hours.

Then, while Hayley set up our fantastic picnic snacks, we decided to explore the island a little, take in the views and spot few different shore birds.

If it wasn’t for the other tourists, it would have felt like our own piece of untouched paradise.

After resting and refueling Hayley guided us back towards Shute Harbor. We stopped along the way to talk about the ecosystem of the area and paddled around the smaller Islands with turtles frequently popping up around us, which was incredible.

whitsunday snorkelling sea kayakingAs we passed the last island and navigated the last open stretch of water, we came into sight of the harbor. This was when it started to get tough on our arm muscles but thanks to Hayley’s encouragement and guiding we made it!

This is such a great day out and a fantastic way to appreciate this stunning part of the world. I’ve lived in this area for years but this trip enabled me to appreciate it so much more. Highly recommended.

travel nq fast facts:

  • Airlie Beach Sea Kayaking business Salty Dog provide all the equipment including stinger suits
  • Snacks are provided
  • Take hats, sunscreen, water and shoes that are okay to get wet
  • Children (aged 6+) can go if accompanied by an adult

 

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