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Whitsundays Kayaking - 4 season tent in the Tropics

November 04, 2022

Whitsundays Kayaking - 4 season tent in the Tropics

Written by: Michael Jowett & Carol Binder

In need of a serious break the idea of getting off the grid was born. Planning a sea kayaking trip for a first time paddler but experienced multi day bike packer amalgamated the skills and experience of two adventurous souls. 

The wish list was 

  • Relax
  • Disconnect 
  • Spoil ourselves 
  • Immerse ourselves in nature 

Our plan was to exploit the south east trade winds and paddle from Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island to somewhere on Hook Island with a few wild camps along the way.

Arriving at Whitehaven beach by Scamper water taxi we were greeted by pearlescent white sands and the hordes of day visitors which disappeared by 3pm daily only to be replaced by midges on dark. 

We departed Whitehaven with our small sail on the rented Salty Dog double kayak the following breeze pushed up effortlessly towards Hill Inlet where we lunched on a remote beach upriver. 

Paddling back out through the headwind and shallow shifting sands we landed on a lowering tide, just north of the entrance and walked across the tidal flats to climb to the lookout to see a Hammerhead shark below corralling the Stingrays and singling off one for lunch.

Having left our run downwind run late in the afternoon we pulled in to a small undeveloped cove, along the Whitsunday Island east coast for our camp for the night.

The Dragonfly Tent was ideal for the conditions with the ability to open both vestibules wide open to provide perfect ventilation, or leave the fly off to see the full moon as it arcs across the tropical night. The strong frame provided stability in the face of the SE Trade winds that blew day & night.

The storage compartments & multiple hang points made great spaces for all of our lamps, maps, SPOT, toiletries, phase 10, crossword puzzles and other necessities.

The bay we camped at was kept secluded by a large shallow reef and tidal flat that meant we had to time our arrival and departure times each day or a long walk.

We’d carried extra fresh water (100 litres all up) for the luxury of a solar shower after paddling, swimming or snorkelling around the fringing reef.  As Michael kept repeating “that's the beauty of a sea kayak - you can carry everything” so we did, we did not skimp on any food items at all. Each meal was based on dehydrated food but there were loads of additions planned out weeks in advance. Every meal was gourmet lacking in nothing.  Lime pickle, chilli and Laughing Pug drip coffee bags were essential.

After two nights in paradise we decided we should see some other areas and set off in a building sea rounding the point well clear of the breaking waves.  As we unfurled the small sail we picked up speed and momentum towards our destination, Crayfish Bay, Hook Island  - some 12 k’s distant.  

The following swell rose to over 1 metre with trailing whitecaps making for some exciting paddling as we surfed down each wave, yawing as the rudder temporarily lost traction on each crest.

We rounded the last headland into cross chop bouncing off the rocky sheer cliff lined shore, the wind luffing our helpful sail as we crossed the fringing coral reef into the calm waters of Crayfish Bay surfing the waves onto the beach on a mid tide.

We picked a small sandy promontory under the pandanus palms between the creek and the beach to set up our home for the next two days.  

The snorkelling off the beach was a feast for the eyes with sublime coral reef (soft and hard corals) sea turtles, numerous fish species in large clouds, rays and giant clams with their multicolour lips on display in the mostly clear waters. The steep drop off to the blue below was alluring and intimidating at the same time but with the boat tethered to our wrist we were always only a quick splash from safety.

Mission accomplished - rejuvenated we’ll be back for more

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