So back to Australia (if you missed it, read all about the Melbourne leg). After a great start in Melbourne off we flew to Hamilton Island. This was the one stop we were most unsure about. I waffled back and forth between going to Kangaroo Island for the wildlife or somewhere near the Great Barrier Reef for the snorkeling. In the end it seemed crazy to go to Australia and not see the Great Barrier Reef so we narrowed it down to this little spot of land in the Coral Sea.
I have to say that if I forget about the expense of everything (sorry to harp on about it but as if Australia isn't generally expensive enough, HI takes it to a whole new level as its a tiny island that clearly prices everying with its remote destination and exclusivity in mind), Hamilton Island is a version of paradise. Gorgeous views from every vantage point, wild cockatoos flying everywhere, warm breezes, the whole thing.
As we were waiting for our room to be ready, Mr. Limestone spotted a sandshark swimming REALLY close to shore on the beach. Naturally my camera was not ready and I only got a snap of the very top of its fin as it sunk in the water and was never glimpsed again. But that was an interesting welcoming party.
There also happens to be a small wildlife sanctuary on the island that I just loved. Mostly because they not only have koalas to cuddle with ( er, take an awkward photo with but lets just say that counts as cuddling, ok?) but they also have a baby koala that had me transfixed. So much so that I came not once but twice to soak in the cuteness.
But we didn't come for the koalas or the warm weather, now did we? We came to see the star attraction, the Great Barrier Reef. We went all out that day for the helicoper ride over the reef to start the day. Then it was on to the snorkeling.
After being shown into stinger suits (which are essentially sausage casings that would easily win the award for the worlds most unflattering outfit) we were off to see what the reef had to offer. We took an underwater camera but its a lot harder to snap photos while being jossled by the ocean than I planned.
Between seeing that shark and reading about the stingers and other nasties, I was a bit worried going in but it turned out to be so much fun. I was a little surprised to see only smallish fish (except for the giant potato cod). I expected the GBR to be teeming with sea life. So perhaps this particular spot wasn't that busy? But the coral itself was beautiful - the pictures do not do it justice. In other words, an experience I'll never forget.
Back to the heli for the ride home and the amazing views of the reef. The photos just don't do it justice as its all incredibly beautiful. The most perfect blues and greens you've ever seen.
On our final day we took a boat trip to two nearby beaches. First stop was Tongue bay - a little rocky outcrop with a hiking trail to get a gorgeous view of the area from up high. And the last was easily the most pristine beach I've ever had the pleasure of seeing, Whitehaven. Just pure white sand met with crystal blue calm water. Sadly we had to don the stinger suits again but other than that, it was perfection.
After three wonderful days here, it was time to get back on a plane for our last leg of this trip, Sydney. More on that in another post.