Everything in the ocean baffles my mind. The creatures that live underwater look so bizarre and I really don’t understand how they are living things. But I must say that jellyfish top the list of the most bizarre things in the ocean. They have no bones, no brains, they come in so many sizes, and they all have varying degrees of stings. During my time in Australia, I developed a fear of jellyfish. Australia is home to the kinds of jellyfish that can kill you, so I had reason to be scared.
Airlie Beach was the beginning of my 3-day tour on a boat, which took me snorkelling through the Whitsunday Islands – where these jellyfish live. This was not an ideal situation for me, but people do this all the time so I figured it couldn’t be that bad. We arrived in Airlie Beach the night before our tour and this is when we discovered how serious the jellyfish are in this area. A man made lagoon exists in Airlie Beach because there is a very high chance of encountering one of those murdering blobs if you go swimming off the coast. There as also a sign on the beach letting you know all the types of jellyfish that could be found in these waters, and what to do if you get stung. In other words, don’t go in the water.
The tour itself was one of my best memories of Australia. Even if you are afraid of jellyfish, you should still do it. I had never spent more than a couple of hours on a boat before this trip, and I signed up for 3 days straight and loved it. This tour really introduced me to nautical life that I didn’t know existed. We were out on the deck in the ocean breeze all day. We slept outside (with a tarp over us, it was rainy season) with the waves crashing against the boat all night. It was an amazing experience.
During the day we visited beaches, including the beautiful Whitehaven Beach, and we went snorkelling through the coral reef. Snorkelling the first way was great. There were brightly colourful fish everywhere, and the guides provided us with a floatation device if we wanted, so we could easily float around for hours without getting tired. They also provided us with sting suits to protect us from the jellyfish. These were specially designed wetsuits that provide you with an extra layer of skin that the jellies don’t recognize as a threat, so they don’t sting. Weird, right? But I was thankful that I had one!
On day two, it was time to snorkel again. I was excited to see some crazy fish and beautiful coral, but the water was very murky that day. After a closer look, I noticed that we seemed to be swimming in an area that had thousands of small jellyfish. Terrifying! I spent more time looking around for jellyfish than the amazing setting around me. Even with a sting suit on, I couldn’t focus on anything other than the jellies. I swam very slowly and constantly turned my head in every direction to scan the nearby waters for jellyfish. I think I would have been less worried if I saw a shark in the water.
We had a quick snorkel on day three, in clearer waters. I reflected on the spectacular things I saw on this trip. Whitehaven Beach is picture perfect, with its white sand beach contrasted by bright blue water. Despite its popularity, we managed to find areas that were not covered with tourists and it seemed that we had the whole beach to ourselves. The downside of seeing this place on a tour is that you only have a limited amount of time. If I had more time to explore, I’m sure I could have found so much more to blow my mind. Despite that, you can see a lot in three days on the water. The moral of this story is – don’t let your fears hold you back. You never know, it could be your favourite part of your trip!