I love the Whitsundays

To tour or not to tour...that is the question.

Boathaven Resort - Monday, June 07, 2010
We get a lot of people visiting and the most common question is "Should we take a tour and if so which one" and then I inveritably get the question "what do you suggest".
The main problem with this scenario is that there is SO much to choose from;  it's like going to Myers and asking a complete stranger what shoes should you get.  I always ask a few qualifiing questions so we can quickly narrow it do to a few options and then I advise the guest to take the brochures away and read for a bit and give us a call with their choice and we will book it in for you.

We have three types of guest when it comes to booking tours - "the ponderer",  the "yep sounds good", and the dreaded "assuminators"  and all have their positives and negatives.
"The Ponderer" - This is the game of 20 questions that never ends. I like these people because 1. it test my knowledge and I always feel like Einstien after they depart and  2. I know that in the end they are going to love their trip because they found the exact trip that suits their needs.  These people are challenging because they forget why they are taking a tour, to relax and enjoy themselves, and focus on the most minute details of the trip that at the end of the day will not make a difference to their experience.

"Yep Sounds Good" - seems like they would be the perfect people you want to book tours and they probably would if it were not for the fact that I actually care about your experience when you take a tour. These people will agree to whatever tour I suggest as long as it is in their price range. I could suggest a 1/2 day snail hunting expedition and I would get Yep sounds good - book us in. I am pretty good a reading people and have a lot of knowledge about the tours so I tend to get it right, most of the time. The issue I have with this group is that I actually sit up at night wondering if they had a good day because I know that the decision was totally mine.

"the Assuminator" - these guest assume there is a tour that can go to Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef all in one day, and don't believe you when you say it is not possible. These people assume that even though you never said it , the tour they chose was serving full seafood buffets for lunch and want an explanation on the return as to why it did not happen. They will book the opposite of what I suggest and then get angry with me when they return because it was not the experience they assumed was going to happen. The one positive is that if you figure out they are assuminators before they book you can use a bit of reverse psychology and get them on a trip that they will really enjoy.

Anyway, enough about the guest, more on the tours.

In the Whitsundays, there are two main options to visit - the beautiful Whitehaven Beach and the iconic Great Barrier Reef.   The Great Barrier Reef is pretty simple, there are two tour companies that visit the actual Great Barrier Reef,  Fantasea Cruises and Cruise Whitsunday.  Both offer relatively the same experience and every seller of this tour has a their preferred fror what ever small reason but you could not go wrong with either of the choices.  Whitehaven Beach tours are as abundant as croc's in the NT. This is were you can come undone if you pick the wrong option for you. Almost all includes some form of snorkeling in a cove with fringing reef as well as a few hours on Whitehaven Beach. The differences would be type of vessel you are traveling in. Small, big, sail, motor cruise, slow, fast - all choices when going to Whitehaven. Some include bush walks, resort island stop overs, and Hill inlet lookout and all include some form of lunch. 
My top 5 ways to see Whitehaven Beach are:
1. Camira - Sailing Catamaran
2. Ocean Rafting - High speed rubber duck boat
3. Mantaray - small numbers, motor cruiser
4. By Helicoptor or Sea Plane w/ a picnic lunch
5. Voyager - Daydream Island, Hook Island, and Whitehaven Beach

And there are a few others worthy of a mention but this is a blog not a novel. 

And last but not least are the "don't fit in the box tours" that are actually some of my favorite of all the tours available in the region.
Most notable would be the EcoJet Safari which is a ocean safari you take on Jet Ski's with a small group and you jet ski around the Whitsunday Islands and up the Proserpine River with croc's (yes I said you jet ski with CROC's) and it is beautiful, fun, interactive, and very unique.
The Crocodile Safari is another that is an oldie but a goodie. This tour is great if you have kids but it's really good if your just adults as well. And no I do not have a thing for croc's, but they are very cool and we seem to have a fair few in the Proserpine River system. You get to see the wetlands as well and have real dampa and billy tea with your lunch, very Australian.
The new inclusion would be the 1/2 day Yellow Sub and snorkel adventure.  This is a great option if you have a late flight, have kids and do not want a full day out, or here just for a short stay but want to see something. You take a high speed boat out to Bali Hai Island for a snorkel (great place to see turtles) and then go in a submarine around the reef system to see all of the sites you could not see while snorkeling. It's quick, fun, beautiful location, and small numbers.

So the answer to the question "should I take a tour" is most definatly YES. Even if it is your 100th time to visit the region, always try and get out on the water or see something new because the Coral Sea is magical. It revives your soul and gives you memories for a lifetime.  If you can't get on a tour then at the very least go and take a drive to see Cedar Creek Falls or Dingo Beach. Don't come to the Whitsundays Coast and sit in your room reading a book, see what all the hoopla is about and be a tourist. Take the tour.

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