Channelling My Own Jack Sparrow on the Whitsundays’ Mandrake

For an over-connected, always on social media and PR person currently living on the other side of the world from her friends and family, sometimes technology becomes a pain rather than a pleasure. What’s the Wi-Fi password here? When am I going to get a response from Europe? I need to answer that client email – NOW! So you can imagine why having the opportunity to enjoy two days of nearly signal-free bliss in the heavenly Whitsundays, feeling close to some of the world’s most unique bits of nature and following my teenage dreams of being (or marrying) Jack Sparrow was just the right medicine.

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Mandrake trips are operated by Oz Sail and start at $474 per person. They include two nights aboard the gorgeous 30-year-old racing boat, at least two snorkeling sessions in the Great Barrier Reef as well as all meals. The Mandrake left at 3.00 PM from Abell Point Marina near Airlie Beach, reachable through a 30-minute cab ride from the Whitsundays’ Proserpine airport. The top highlights of the trip for me were Whitehaven Beach, which has to be one of the world’s most incredible places, and Langford Island.

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We reached Whitehaven Beach early in the morning, to beat the backpacker crowds. From the viewpoint, pristine sand spits and crystal clear water unfolded in front of us creating unique patterns that change in accordance with the tide.

We then descended to walk on the beach itself, where you can swim with baby sharks and lie down on a 98.9 per cent silica beach, which works as a natural exfoliant. No one really knows where this unique sand comes from, but geologists suggest that it came from elsewhere, millions of years ago, becoming trapped by the rocks and of the area and slowly becoming purified through fresh water. The set of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, walking through Whitehaven Beach reminded of my teenage dreams of being a pirate.

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The sand spit facing Langford Island, caught in between two currents, became our mooring for the evening and the set for our sunset evening chill, a one-of-a-kind location that puts your heart in peace with the world.


Following the alarming news proclaiming the death of the Great Barrier Reef, I felt extremely lucky to be able to see the coral and its rainbow of colours first-hand, or to swim with the tropical fish, sea turtles and baby sharks.
The scarcity of plugs to charge my phone and the lack of signal further away from the coast added bliss to the trip. I felt out of time, away from the stress of civilisation, whether I was gazing at the stars or admiring the Ocean at sunset or sunrise while listening to music with the crew and the rest of the passenger, the wind in our hair and the hot Queensland air taking our worries away.

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Two years from my Couchsurfing trip across the United States, I had almost forgotten what real adventure tastes like. My Mandrake Oz Sail Trip was a much needed reminder that a nice hotel is not everything you should look for in a holiday.

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Pictures: Carolina Are

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