Australia – Finding my inner fish at the Whitsunday Islands
I am not a fish.
I say this because, to all intents and purposes, some people are.
They may not have gills or go perfectly with a nice plate of chips, but put them in water and they take it like, well, a fish to water.
These are the people you see out diving every day in places like the Great Barrier Reef and the neighbouring Whitsunday Islands.
People like me, on their bravest days, can be found wriggling into dive gear on Whitehaven Beach.
Flippers, snorkel, skin tight dive suit; it all feels incredibly unnatural and, yet, exciting.
It is time, to misquote Don Corleone, to swim with the fishes.
Scuba diving is an incredible adventure, up there towards the top of almost every traveller’s ‘to do’ list.
Although my first attempt saw me oddly and embarrassingly bob back to the surface of the water fastest than a submarine commander could say submerge, I did eventually manage to do some proper diving; creeping along the sea bed engulfed by fishes of every size, shape and colour imaginable.
I’m pretty sure I even found Nemo.
About the Whitsundays:
The Whitsundays are a group of 74 tropical islands with lots of coral reefs for diving and snorkelling.
Located 137 kilometres north of Brisbane and served by the small, but lively Airlie Beach, the islands are the coral fringed remains of a coastal mountain which was submerged when the sea level rose at the end of the last ice age.
They owe their name to Captain Cook, who discovered them on July 3, 1770 – what he thought was Whitsunday. In fact, it wasn’t at all, as Cook had omitted to take account of the crossing of the date line and was a day out.
Resorts sprang up on the islands in the 1970s, but even now only a few are inhabited and all but four are designated as national parks.
With a tropical climate providing average temperatures of 23 degrees centigrade in June, up to 30 in January it is easy to see why the Whitsundays are so popular.
Whitehaven Beach, perfect for diving and snorkelling, boasts a six kilometre stretch of white silica sand and clear blue water.
It is based on Whitsunday Island, the largest of the islands covering 109 km sq, and recognisable by the 438m high Whitsunday Peak.