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My experience sailing around the Whitsundays from Airlie Beach was definitely one to remember. Although we were thrown many curve-balls on the day including crazy weather and waves, the incredible scenery was definitely worth it.
When you arrive at Airlie beach, I can guarantee that you’ll be presented with COUNTLESS Whitsunday sailing opportunities. And to be honest, I found it quite overwhelming at first…
Honestly, how many sailing experiences to do you need?!
To keep things interesting, I decided to go with a company who:
- Was a bit different from your standard catamaran sail
- Want to have a positive impact on the environment (are eco-certified) and
- Add their own unique flavour of magic to the experience.
Whitsunday Sailing – Providence V Adventure
As part of my adventures in Airlie Beach, I was blessed to step aboard Whitsunday Sailing’s majestic baby tall ship, the Providence V.
This ship is a classic 62-foot gaff-rigged schooner – a replica of the American Blackfish schooners, which were some of the first boats to compete in America’s Cup.
She was also featured in the 1992 Australia-filmed Hollywood movie, Survive the Savage Seas.
Our journey on this stunning ship involved:
- Setting sail around the Whitsunday Islands
- Enjoying free time at Whitehaven Beach (rated one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world)
- and snorkelling in some of the nearby reefs
To help you decide whether this Whitsunday sailing experience is for you, I will share 5 reasons why I feel viewing the Whitsundays from the decks of Providence V, at Airlie Beach, is a pretty darn cool experience.
If you’d like a little sneak peak into the experience, you can check out my VLOG from the day below:
5 Reasons to Sail the Whitsundays on the Providence V Ship, from Airlie Beach
1) Great Company and Crew
One of the greatest parts of the journey was having the company of the crew from Whitsunday Sailing.
You could tell that the skipper, Peter, was very confident and skilled in handling the ship despite being thrown challenging curveballs, gusts of rain and turbulent waves!
He was also great at:
- Keeping positive vibes on the ship, despite many of us feeling cold, soaked and nauseous at one point – Thanks Winter weather!
- Providing some light entertainment by turning up the music to have a little dance
- Answering questions about the Whitsundays, the Providence and also the history of the area – including the impacts of Cyclone Debbie
They also won our hearts early by handing out some chocolate brownies early on in the trip! Like, who doesn’t enjoy a dark chocolate brownie…
2) The Providence V Experience Provides a Taste of History
Compared to many of the sailing tours at the Whitsundays, Providence sailing from Airlie Beach is definitely unique – being an old-style sailing ship rather than a large new catamaran.
Sure there are perks of both sailing experiences, but the Providence V radiates a sense of charm and personality that you’re unlikely to get from other tours.
It also provides a real taste of history and what it would have been like for sailors back in the day and how they’d manually rig a ship. Rigging comprises the system of ropes, cables and chains that support a sailing ship including its masts.
It was cool to watch how the crew manually raise and lower the mainsail of the ship, and just how significantly these sails impact the speed of the ship.
3) You Get to Explore One of the Most Beautiful Beaches in the World
Another aspect of the Providence Sailing Whitsundays tour that I liked was how we were given free rein to enjoy Whitehaven Beach at our leisure.
Given the crew are focused on sailing and not being your tour guide, there is less of a focus on guiding you through the island. Instead, you are dropped off by the crew, and can spend your time around the island as you like.
- Following the steps and winding tracks up to the stunning Whitehaven Beach lookout
- Taking photos at the “Instagram Famous” tree on the beach
- Standing amongst stingrays and sea life on the cusp of Whitehaven Beach
- Dragging your toes through the white silica sand as you kook out to the stunning turquoise waters of Whitsunday Island
Although the time felt so short on the Island, you were given enough time to see the main sites and then wander back to the ship for a light lunch.
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4) You Get to Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
For most of us who travel to Airlie Beach, the Whitsundays, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef is a non-negotiable bucket list item.
If you’re interested in having a snorkel, the Providence Whitsunday Sailing tour will allow you to do that.
But, I must warn you in advance, that the visibility of the water and also the fish you see is greatly impacted by the time of year you go and the weather.
When I went snorkelling for example, the visibility was very poor and there wasn’t much to see. The dive sites in the Whitsundays can be a big hit or miss.
Cyclone Debbie has also had a HUGE impact on many of the reef dive sites all through the Whitsundays.
Sadly, the sheer power and size of Cyclone Debbie devastated a lot of the reefs around the Whitsundays Islands. It destroyed a lot of the colourful corals as well as the sea-life that lived there.
But, there is hope…
Already there are clear signs that the reef is regenerating. Hopefully in 5-10 years time, these reefs will be humming with life all over again.
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5) They are Eco-certified and Focused on Providing Eco-friendly Tours
Another thing that I like about Whitsunday Sailing is that they care about the environment.
Something that I have become more and more passionate about over the years as I travel, is having as minimal an impact on the environment as possible. Or even better – having a positive impact!
Whitsunday Sailing deeply care about the environment and the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
They offer lunches with minimum wrapping, use recycled paper cups where they can and offer chilled water on deck rather than selling plastic bottles. They even have enviro-friendly toilets.
All of this contributes to having a positive impact on the environment, which I believe is a critical element to consider when choosing any tour provider.
If you’re interested in learning more about Providence V or the tour with Whitsunday Sailing, click here.
Providence Sailing Whitsundays
Whatever your reason for visiting the Whitsundays, sailing between the islands is definitely an experience that you don’t want to miss.
The Whitsundays is the best region in Australia to enjoy sailing and is home to 74 tropical islands – all with magnificent beaches and secluded bays.
The perfect way to get up close to the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Whitsundays.
3 Things to Know Before You Sail the Whitsundays
As you’ve read above, there are definitely some great reasons to go sailing on the Providence V from Airlie Beach.
However, here are some key things you should consider before deciding if this tour is right for you.
1) There’s Little Shelter on the Boat
Unless you can withstand being in the rocking darkness of the cabin below deck, you are 100% in the elements on this ship. This is important to consider, if like us, the weather is against you and there’s going to be a ton of rain or rough seas.
Thankfully, raincoats are provided on the boat which is extremely convenient and definitely helped us, but we still got wet regardless.
Just something to keep in mind…
2) This Tour is Focused on Sailing
This is not the tour for you if you’re wanting to travel quickly from A to B, spend hours at Whitsunday Island or go snorkelling at multiple dive sites.
Given that it is a “sailing” ship”, the majority of your time will be spent on board sailing through Whitsundays.
It sounds obvious, but again is something to consider if you’re wanting to see a lot of the Whitsundays in a short period of time.
The crew on the Providence V occasionally turn on the engine to gather speed, but for most of the trip the boat relies on the power of the wind.
This tour is about slowing down and taking your time and relaxing whilst enjoying the smell of the ocean and the wind through your hair.
3) If You Get Sea Sickness, Be Prepared
If you have a sensitive stomach on rocky boats, then you may want to stock up on your sea sickness tablets before climbing onto this boat.
When the ocean is calm and the skies are clear, sailing aboard the Providence V is absolute magic. But when rain is abundant and the ocean turns turbulent, you’re in for a roller coaster ride of your life.
Prepare to be flying up and down as the ship hurls itself over colossal sized waves.
For me, this was quite a fun and exciting experience, but for someone prone to seasickness, it may be less so.
Prepare your stomach for the adventure wisely…
Book Your Providence V Sailing Tour Today
If you’re heading to the Whitsundays and would love to do a traditional sailing tour around the islands, you can learn more about the Providence V Sailing tour here.
The tour departs early in the morning, setting sail around 7am in the morning from Coral Sea Marina at Meeting Point B.
The tour operator does include transfers to and from your accommodation at Airlie Beach, however you must notify them in advance.
You can expect to be back at your accommodation in the late afternoon. Which gives you the perfect opportunity to have a shower and head out to the Airlie Beach restaurants for a big feed and some entertainment.
To book your sailing adventure with Whitsunday Sailing aboard the Providence V, click the link below.