Sydney Sundancer normally conducts 7 day, scheduled cruises from Hamilton Island departing each Saturday afternoon, where you do not see civilization for a whole week until return on Saturday morning.
The following is an extract from Sydney Sundancer adventure diary showing a typical weeks itinerary:
-Guests arrive at Hamilton Island and are transported by taxi to the Marina (5 minutes).
-Boarding time is 3pm so there should be plenty of time for lunch and exploring Hamilton Island.
This is also a good time to arrange any wet suits or scuba gear required from the dive shop (H20 Dive shop) on Main Street adjacent to the marina.
-Be welcomed on board with a complimentary ice cold tropical Pimms cocktail or beer. Depart marina to begin an Adventure Sail to Nara Inlet to anchor for the evening.
-Cocktails, snacks and the evening meal will be served in this ultra calm bay.
-Exploration Walk Option
Be taken ashore by tender to follow a track leading to a lookout high above the inlet offering serene views of the yacht at anchor in a natural fjord harbour on this uninhabited Island. An added bonus while on this excursion is a visit to an ancient Aboriginal cave complete with paintings dating back to earlier than Captain James Cook's discovery of the area in 1770.
-Return to the yacht for breakfast and a swim
-Sail to Langford Reef for snorkelling or scuba diving. At this location as the tide abates, a massive drying reef joining two islands and a sand spit is revealed. Those wanting to take advantage of Lynne's expertise in nature will be guided around the reef before we all enjoy a superb lunch on the aft deck next to this coral cay.
-A short afternoon sail to Stonehaven anchorage on the northern shore of Hook Island in time to catch a glorious sunset, with cocktail in hand preceding a delicious dinner, to complete the first full day.
-An early morning snorkel over beautiful corals and fish gives an appetite for breakfast.
-Head out into the Whitsunday passage for an exhilarating sail.
-Lunch is served while under way and we arrive at Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island
-Afternoon snorkelling over the wonderful coral reef. For the first time we see the underwater world through the large glass bottom of the dive tender Sundance Kid John steers us skillfully over the crystal clear water and colourful corals, whilst Lynne explains the names of the numerous fish and corals, before we excitedly leap overboard to take an even closer look!!
-Another scuba dive for those who are qualified, or those wanting a bush walk, take the tender ashore to follow the pipe track (about 2.5 hours) around the island for a birds eye view of the wonderful waterways and nearby Islands.
-Enjoy a superb sunset from the western side of Hayman Island, a crimson sky whilst sipping cocktails before dinner.
-The corals are so beautiful at Blue Pearl Bay that most guests want to enjoy another snorkel before we set sail for Butterfly Bay. -On arrival, we dinghy ashore for a stroll amongst the dense tropical foliage and thick canopy of native trees behind a white coral beach to see thousands of butterflies and yet another snorkel for those inclined over exceptionally colourful corals.
-After setting a course due east, we visit Manta Ray Bay where the corals are spectacular and hundreds of fish are so friendly that they gather around and under our glass bottomed boat on arrival to welcome us. We watch with excitement when 'Albert' the resident Maori Wrasse (over 1 metre long) stares up at us through the glass bottom. “Albert” is accompanied by hundreds of Sergeant Majors, Fusiliers, Moon Wrasse and many other extremely colourful fish. (Without exception every guest said this is one of the top highlights of their visit! )
-Those that are scuba divers dive, but snorkelers have the unforgettable opportunity to hand feed these amazingly colourful fish in crystal clear blue water.
-As the weather is totally calm and perfect, we all decide we will spend the afternoon cruising to Bait Reef, which lies on the Outer Reef, and is about three hours from Manta Ray Bay. Guests read their books comfortably either lying on the air bed or on the inflatable armchairs, occasionally looking up to see if there are whales leaping out of the water or dolphins swimming at the bow.
-Some guests love to learn navigation and are ably assisted in lessons from the Captain!
-On arrival to Bait Reef we proceed through an opening between the coral boulders into a perfectly protected lagoon.
Take the tender to Garry’s lagoon for an afternoon snorkel to witness the amazing diversity of fish and corals.
-The sunset that evening has to be seen to be believed, as the sun drops into the sea as we enjoy our cocktails on the aft deck.
-Enjoy an early snorkel with Manta Rays prior to breakfast.
-After breakfast we enjoy a one way drift snorkel over the entire length of the reef. We explore shallow, pretty coral gardens inside the Stepping Stones, arriving suddenly into the deep blue lagoon known as Gary’s lagoon (it’s like flying in air as the water is so clear and deep!) We then explore the whole length of the drop off which is known as Manta Ray Drop Off. Lynne calls it the “magic carpet ride” as she guides guests over what is arguably the most amazing corals and fish life anywhere. The tender ia always nearby to accommodate snorkelers who don’t want to be in the water for so long,(and to give confidence to guests who are new to snorkelling!) but rarely that is the case, as there are so many amazing things to see and time flies by!!
-We often hear humpback whales singing whilst snorkelling, ever more enhancing the incredible experience!!
-Enjoy a superb lunch on the aft deck we reluctantly leave this incredible place and sail back to the islands.
-Sail back to the islands and head for Border Island.
-There is great excitement when a large Spanish mackerel is caught whilst trolling! That evenings’ dinner is now decided!! Wonderfully delicious freshly caught fish!! Nothing quite like it!!
-En route there, we see Humpback whales (mother and calf) The mother is teaching her calf how to leap out of the water and it is an awesome experience to be so close, and we feel very privileged to watch nature at its best!! We toss the hydro phone into the water and listen through the speakers to the whale songs, and marvel at this miracle of nature. Lynne tells us that the whales can communicate to each other from over 100 kilometres, and that they often change their song from year to year!!!!
-We continue our sail to Border Island, anchoring for the evening in magnificent Cataran Bay with its steep cliffs joined by a saddle above a sandy beach at the head of the bay.
The scuba divers dive, and snorkelers hand feed these amazingly colourful fish in crystal clear blue water. The fish life here is prolific and includes the cheeky Sergeant Majors, Moon Fish, Parrot Fish and the magnificent Maori Wrasse(over a metre in length).
-An early morning walk to the top of the saddle on Border Island yields fabulous views towards world famous Whitehaven Beach. -After returning to Sydney Sundancer, we visit the stunning corals of this lovely little island.
-Later, as there is no breeze for sailing, the conditions are favourable to visit Deloraine Island about 4 miles to the south east. Sydney Sundancer is the only commercial vessel permitted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to visit this island, so this is a rare treat, because the corals here are some of the best we have ever seen. Visits are restricted to only perfectly calm conditions, and our guests are amazed at the visibility of the water and variety of corals and fish life.
-Fossicking on the coral beach at Deloraine Island (a rare treat because it is so rarely visited)
-Sail on to magnificent Whitehaven Beach and we lunch in style on the aft deck en route.
-On arrival at the north eastern tip of Whitehaven Beach at Hill Inlet, we all decide to enjoy a short stroll to the look out, high above the magnificent inlet and Whitehaven Beach for THE most unforgettable view. Some of our guests decide on some gentle exercise walking on the silica white soft sandy beach that “squeaks” between barefoot toes!
-The remaining guests return to the yacht to try their luck trolling for fish as we sail to our overnight anchorage at the Southern end of Whitehaven Beach (5 kilometres away), where we plan to rendezvous with the beach walkers.
-We wake to cloudless skies (again), turquoise water and the whitest beach any one has ever seen. A swim ashore is irresistible and a stroll unforgettable.
-Set sail through the Solway Pass to Hazelwood Island and the southern anchorage named Waite Bay which affords perfect protection now that the breeze has swung to the North East. Access to this very special anchorage is restricted, and Sydney Sundancer is one of only three commercial charter vessels permitted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to visit this location, and the only commercial operator to permitted to conduct reef walking excursions.
-Reef Walking Excursion
Low tide is at 10 am so we take the tender ashore at 9am to begin our fascinating reef walk on 5 square kilometres of drying reef. Lynne guides guests to all the fascinating mollusks and creatures, describing their life cycle and interactions on the reef. Later, when the reef has submerged again, Lynne guides several of us for a snorkel along the front edge of this magnificent reef and we see all kinds of fish life and wonderful corals. Waite Bay is a turtle breeding sanctuary, so we normally encounter many during our snorkelling expedition.
-We have our lunch underway under sail along the southern edge of Whitsunday Island while the occasional dolphin is playing in the bow wave. They love humans and seem to smile up at us as we watch in wonder from the bow.
-About mid afternoon, we enter Cid Harbour on the western side of Whitsunday Island.
-We all take the tender ashore and those who feel energetic, hike to the top of Whitsunday Peak, the highest point in the Islands, and those who just feel like a stroll follow the beaten track to Dugong Inlet, not so strenuous.
-Drinks to discuss the days activities are enjoyed whilst watching the golden sunset before dinner. After dinner we all relive the week by watching the photos and movies of all the adventures and experiences (both above and under the water) that we have shared. All guests receive a free CD of the images and movies that Lynne has captured during a truly amazing week!
-After a swim before breakfast, we reluctantly set sail for Hamilton Island, concluding what has been for everyone aboard, the most fascinating, exciting and relaxing holiday of their lifetime.
Your hosts, Lynne and John Boyce are extremely experienced in the Whitsundays waterways, and they will create a custom tour for you to suit your interests and to work in with the safest anchorages fitting in with tides, waves and prevailing wind conditions. Your safety and comfort is of paramount importance! Please be aware, that whilst most 7 day charters include the areas mentioned above, the charter is weather dependant and the direction of the wind play a large part in the decision of each days activities and destination. Rest assured however, that most of these highlights will be visited, but it is impossible to know until the time, which order, or indeed if we can visit certain areas (particularly the Outer Reef) due to the strength and direction of the wind at that time. Guests particular requests will always be taken into consideration, but the Captains decision is final, based on guests safety and comfort, which is always paramount.
Snorkelling Notes for Inexperienced Swimmers
There is a magical world under the water to show you in the Whitsundays. You will be taken to the places where coral abounds. Inexperienced snorkellers are offered tuition and a life jacket if required. If you do not wish to swim, you will have the opportunity to stay in the glass bottom tender with the captain so that you can see the magnificent sights under the water clearly.