With thanks to:
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

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6: Finding new beaches

Back on the yacht, we headed north-east towards the Pinnacles, a rock formation which marks the north-east edge of Hook Island. As we turned the corner a 30-knot wind from the south-east was kicking up a big swell through the overfalls, and despite popping a reef in we took plenty of green water over the bow. Nevertheless, we decided to press on down the eastern side of Hook Island, rewarded for an upwind slog by some dolphins playing in the waves alongside.

It was far too exposed to try and anchor on the eastern shore, so we ducked through Hook Passage and up into Macona Inlet, a very sheltered finger of water protected by a sandbar stretching across the entrance. There are a few more hidden lumps further up the inlet, as we discovered, but despite gusts in the high 20s we found a spacious area to drop anchor in the middle of the channel and enjoyed a comfortable night — the GPS proved invaluable for checking whether the anchor was dragging as we fired up the barbie for the evening. With turtles nesting and lush vegetation right down to the water’s edge, Macona is a particularly picturesque spot and a useful anchorage in most wind directions.

Heading back out through Hook Passage the following morning we dodged a 38-knot bullet bouncing off the hills (the biggest number we saw all week, mainly because after that we stopped looking) and soon found ourselves back into the breeze and relatively big seas, so motored southeast to Tongue Bay.

Tongue Bay lies just north-west of a headland, the other side of which is the famous Whitehaven Beach, a much-photographed stretch of about 6km of pure white sand. After picking up a buoy in Tongue Bay, we went ashore to walk the marked trail to Lookout Point, a viewing platform looking over the spectacular Whitehaven Beach, regularly voted one of the best in the world. Once the platform got a little crowded with students from Preston, we followed a second trail to Lookout Beach, a stunning beach made up of pristine white silica. The walk itself is well worth taking slowly, as we stumbled across a 3ft long multicoloured iguana.

Deciding to settle in for the night, we gave up our mooring buoy and moved further inshore to anchor in Tongue Bay on Rent a Yacht’s advice after the radio sked — advice that turned out to be well worth heeding as we watched the teenage tourers on their packed ketches and old IOR maxis swinging around their moorings. Although the sailing tours carry a surprising number of guests, we were never disturbed by noisy party boats — one of the most appealing aspects of the Whitsundays is definitely the peace and quiet.

With thanks to:
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

Previous page:5 Snorkeling

I popped my mask on and dunked my head over the side to sea what all the fuss was about

Next page:7 Surfing home

We popped the sails up and headed north, enjoying some high-speed surfing

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