By far the best three days of my trip thus far have to have been the Whitsunday Island Catamaran Trip. I first heard about the Whitsunday islands back when I was studying in Christchurch New Zealand in college. A buddy of mine (Andrew Atkins plug) met up with Paul and I in Australia in Byron Bay back in 2004 (wow…). Anyway, while Paul and I were tramping around Frasier Island he was diving in the Whitsunday Islands. He did a sailing / diving trip and had some sick pictures! When Paul and I talked it over to prep for this trip to Oz we both agreed that would be a nice addition but very pricey.
After spending a few days in a crappy hostel in Coogee beach we were both ready to spend some cash to have an experience worth remembering. Thank god we did.
We were able to make some great friends on the trip! Its interesting but thus far the scenery has been cool but the people have been what is most enjoyable. Having conversations that you wouldn't normally have back home has been really refreshing. Common themes that always come up and for some reason are always hilarious to talk about include: what do you call this? How do you pronounce this? etc etc etc….
Christian & Elena from Germany
Dawn & Chris from UK
Tim & Alex from France
Angela "Swiss-miss" from Switzerland
James & Anne-Marie from Ireland
The crew: Ian (UK), Steph (UK), Jake (Aus) & Cookie (NZ)
The three days were full of good food and of course tea & biscuits in the afternoon. The conversations about their home country and our home country were really interesting. Most of them hadn't met an American on their trip. In fact we seem to be the only american backpackers out here in the south pacific right now.*
So our days were pretty full on the trip. We would watch the sunrise around 5;30am and wait until 7ish for breezy (breakfast). Immediately following brekky we'd hop in the water and explore. Paul and I dove four times and after diving we'd always snorkel around and see what was chillin'. The dives were pretty decent.** After snorkeling we'd head back onto the boat and the boat would travel to our next dive or beach site. They'd have instant coffee or tea w/ biscuits waiting for us. This was usually social time when we'd get to know the other people on the boat. We'd have lunch in a picturesque place (i.e. named "lunch bay") and then hop back in the water for more diving and snorkeling. Come back out around mid-afternoon for more snacks. We'd then start our journey to the next location for sunset snacking and dinner. If you can't tell they kept us really well fed on the trip. They even joked that for most backpackers this was the largest amount of fruits and veggies they'd see for the next month or two. (turns out thats pretty true as we eat a lot of noodles and pb&j to save cash).
After dinner is when the action started. The boat was BYOB but as it turns out every one took that message quite seriously. For two nights and three days Paul and I brought 30 cans of XXXX beer. XXXX is a local brand to the north coast and tastes a bit like Bud Diesel. Each can is 1.4 drinks so its a bit stronger than the beer we drink back state-side. At night we'd all sit out on the decks and watch dolphins chasing squid off the back of the boat while conversing over drinks. It was very surreal to sit on the boat surrounded by people who grew up in such different places and enjoy the same jokes. As it turns out american comedy makes it around the world because everyone seemed to love Tenacious D, "the Dear Penis Song" (country?) and so much else popular comedy from comedy central in the US. As it turns out none of them seem interested in Jersey Shore (a pity) but we were still able to joke around about just about every popular comedian and everyone knew them.
The following day we'd repeat the exact schedule I outlined above. And the following day? Yup, you guessed it. repeat. EXECPT we came back to port and all went out to dinner and drinks as a group. Needless to say many shenanigans ensued. This was also when Paul and I bonded with Chris & Dawn and mapped out our next five days together in Magnetic Island and Ciarns.
*side note: since we got to NZ we met three american backpackers. They were all in one car and met each other at a hostel. One from Boston, one from Oklahoma and one from Sacramento. Strange that I traveled to all three places in my last month before I left on this trip. Who goes to Oklahoma, Sacramento and Boston in three weeks prior to leaving home for a year? Wow, this guy!
** we both agree that the diving and wildlife in Cairns at the Great Barrier Reef was a bit more exciting but it was still great for us midwesterners!