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The Ultimate Girls Trip in the tropical Whitsunday Islands

The ultimate girls trip involves tropical Whitsunday Islands, a catamaran, your best girlfriends and a sense of adventure.

If you’re reading this article right now, you’re either A) planning an adventurous girls trip with your favourite crew or B) desperately in need of one. Either way, you've come to the right place.

A cliche girls trip is about massages and long lunches, but in the real world, most women don’t fit into clichés! Perhaps a more appropriate girls trip is something like skippering and crewing a 40-foot yacht!

The below story is for those who haven't sailed the Whitsundays before.  But, perhaps even more so it's an inspiring story, in particular, for women who would like to give bareboating as a female crew a go.

Girls trip whitsundays

The Ultimate Girls Trip; Elara shares her experience sailing the Whitsundays

When Elara and a group of friends decided that they wanted to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays for a girls trip, they were excited to find out how easy it would be.  Even though none of them had ever managed a boat let alone a 40’ yacht before!

We’re so thrilled they enjoyed themselves and pretty proud of them too! They embraced bareboating and jumped out of their comfort zones resulting in a truly inspiring adventure with lots of laughs and fun along the way.

Leopard 40 Whitsunday rent a yacht

Elara’s group chartered in May on It’s All About Me, a Leopard 40.
They booked four nights and added a sleep aboard the night before their charter.

How does your group of girlfriends know each other?

We all know each other playing netball in Alice Springs and have known each other for around 20 years (give or take a few).

We have lived half or all our lives in Alice Springs. I moved to Perth 18 months ago after 21 years in Alice Springs.

We are Elara (me 46), Corrina (47), Robin (51), Sally (63).

Why did you decide to hire a yacht for a girls trip?

For the last seven years, we have travelled to many places, just 2 of us, three or a big group (Vegas, Mexico, Cruising, Sri Lanka, New York, Tough Mudder in Melbourne and many more).

I come up with the ideas mostly from watching Reality TV. I watched a lot of "Below Deck" and wondered how much it would cost to do in Australia. Then google reviews gave me Whitsunday Rent A Yacht. I had to email to make sure we didn’t need a license, and I was so excited when they confirmed that you didn’t need experience.

Hang on, backtrack a second... What's Below Deck?

Ha! Below Deck is an American reality TV show which follows people who work and travel on superyachts. It's pretty amazing to see what some of these people have to do to sustain their careers and of course, there's lots of cheesy reality TV drama. They recently filmed in the Whitsundays, so watch this space!

Did you have any apprehension about sailing as a girls-only group in the Whitsundays?

I didn't. I didn't think it would be easy, but I like challenges and learning new things.

The others mostly had apprehension and wanted to hire a Skipper, but I wouldn't allow it. Hahaha. I chatted to friends with boating experience, and they were a little concerned (I think more because of our cheeky behaviour), but people who knew me well knew I could handle it.

leopard 40

Did anyone in your crew have boating experience?

None. I had driven a dingy a few times, but that’s about it.

How did you find cruising in a catamaran without any boating experience?

Hiring a catamaran in the Whitsundays wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard. I think we had a mindset that it would be extremely difficult, but it was easier than we thought.

I didn't realise the constant concentration required for being a skipper, but I found it peaceful.

Girls trip whitsundays

Where did you go around the Islands, and what activities did you enjoy?

We went to Sandy Bay, Hill Inlet & Tongue Bay, Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island.

We swam, took the dinghy to shore and did walks along the beach. We loved spending time on Betty Beach, just near Whitehaven.

Our trip was full of relaxing, laughing, chatting and staring at the ocean; when from Alice Springs, the sea is appreciated.

Did you have any issues you needed to overcome?

We had to overcome miscommunication early on when mooring and anchoring. I am seriously glad I was hooked on "Below Deck" as the hand signals they used were very helpful to pass onto the others. Hand signals made everything clear because it can be difficult to hear voices.

Once when we anchored, we had to do it again because we had forgotten that the tide would keep moving us, and we started to get too close to the next boat. But re-anchoring wasn't hard, and we did well.

We had a bit of dinghy trouble, but we ended up working it out by not overthinking and staying calm.

I was only nervous when I had to park at Hamilton Island marina due to all the expensive boats, but it was pretty easy with fantastic guidance from the Hamo guy.

girls trip

What was the best thing about your trip?

Everything! The experience is something I say to everyone “you must experience this”. I loved the boat, the places we saw and went to. We had good food, good wine, good music and incredible company. It was great having a cabin each. I suggest splurging and enjoying the luxury.

What advice would you give women wanting to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays for the first time?

You can do whatever you set your mind to.

Pick a leader to make the decisions and when it is a serious time, listen to the leader and everyone else stick to their tasks. We had the Skipper who would read the charts in the morning, someone in charge of the anchor, someone in charge of mooring, and the 4th person did radio calls and did hand signals for anchor and mooring time.

Give it a go! It is a must-do in life! Just remember that they wouldn't let you take the yacht out if they thought it would turn out badly.

Is there anything else you want to share?

We just did four nights, seven nights I think would be perfect, even longer.

We booked three extra hours of training in addition to the standard four-hour briefing, which was helpful.

“Start the conversation NOW because the longer you wait while sitting hunched over your desk, the further you are away from an adventure with your best friends and a piña colada in your hand!”

whitsunday rent a yacht

Are you still feeling unsure about a girls trip on a yacht?

If you’re a group planning on sailing the Whitsundays for the first time, consider:

  • You don’t need a license to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays. This is because the Whitsunday Islands are considered one of the safest sailing grounds in the world.
  • Everyone receives a comprehensive 3-4 hour boating briefing before they can charter.
  • Sail guides are an additional service. You can add an experienced sail guide to your crew for your first night or even the duration of your trip.
  • Each group’s capabilities are assessed before they’re allowed to take the yacht out. If the briefer feels that a group is ready for unassisted boating, they will recommend adding a sail guide or booking more training time.
  • You don't have to put the sails up; our boats can be operated with just the motor on.
  • Cruising time between the islands is under two hours, meaning you're able to spend lots of time exploring the beaches and walking trails.
  • Adventure doesn't mean "roughing it". Sailing on a catamaran or yacht with private cabins, equipped kitchen and shared living spaces while enjoying tropical island views is akin to living in a floating hotel (and in some cases, it's cheaper per head than a hotel!)
  • Help is never far away; the Whitsunday Islands are not far from our base at Shute Harbour, so if you ever needed assistance, we're able to send out a "chaser" boat.

Sailing around Australia’s Whitsunday Islands is the perfect mix of adventure and comfort. There’s no reason a bareboating holiday shouldn’t be on your radar for your next girls trip! To find rates and availability check out our online booking system or get in touch with our friendly staff.