The Whitsunday Islands National Park is one of Australia’s premier destinations, not just for people wanting to escape the hustling city but for international travellers, backpackers, celebrities, avid scuba divers and many more. It really does have something for everyone. We’ve visited the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach four times in just three years! We love it that much we keep finding ourselves back here. We’ve been on a few different overnight and day trips prior to Ride to Paradise, and we can honestly say this trip blew us away.
While with most other trips you either go for only one day or you sleep on the boat, Ride to Paradise takes you to a luxurious beachfront resort for a couple of nights.
The resort itself used to be a holiday home of an extremely wealthy person who then decided to rent it out instead – for AU$15,000 per night to celebrities including Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie. Nowadays, Ride to Paradise rents out the whole place and they accommodate their guests here during the trip! So if you’d rather have the comfort of a luxury resort as opposed to sleeping on a boat, Ride to Paradise is for you!
Without further ado we can’t wait to share with you our experience of the best Whitsundays tour!
What Does The Tour Consist Of?
On the first day, we boarded the boat at about 2:00 to 2:30pm. After getting some instructions and orientation by our amazing crew (shout-out to Billy and Dillon!), we headed straight to Paradise Cove Resort, arriving at about 3:00pm. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy at the resort. Make the most of it! How does having a drink while relaxing in the hot tub sound for example? We went for a match on the tennis court!
The next morning, we departed for an amazing day out in the Whitsundays at about 8:00am. Yes it’s early, but sooo worth it! Because of the weather, our first stop was Whitehaven Beach with the adjacent Hill Inlet Lookout. We were lucky as the sun was still out, which makes the whole place at least five times prettier! After three hours of exploring (saw stingrays and little sharks in the crystal-clear waters), it was time to head back onto the boat for some lunch. A turtle came by and popped its head out the water while we were having our sandwiches!
Afterwards we went snorkelling at two different snorkelling spots, seeing some amazing marine life at the first spot and pretty coral formations at the second spot. You should arrive back at the resort at about 4:30pm, so there’s more time to relax and enjoy the facilities before yet another delicious dinner.
On the last day, we left at about 8:30 to 9:00am and headed to another snorkelling spot. It was a sand bank in the middle of the ocean and we were able to swim with a huge turtle for over half an hour, before the boat took us back to Airlie Beach. So in total the trip takes just under 48 hours (2 nights).
While at Paradise Cove, you’ve got the choice whether to stay in shared or private accommodation. There are six different options to choose from. All of them are bungalow-style, so they’re all really nice:
- 6 bed dorm
- 4 bed dorm
- Private room with shared bathroom
- Private room with ensuite bathroom
- Rainforest Retreat
- Dream Villa
The dorms are not like your typical hostel obviously. It’s still an own bungalow in paradise, just with four or six beds in it. So if you don’t mind sharing with others, this is a great option. If you’re travelling as a couple, it might be worth paying extra for private accommodation. It actually isn’t that much more expensive.
We had the pleasure of staying in a private room with ensuite bathroom during our overnight tour on Ride To Paradise. The bed was extremely comfortable and cozy after a long day out, and the tropical outdoor bath and shower are perfect for some relaxation. The attention to detail in the rooms was nothing short of perfect, it was the perfect blend of beachside retreat and luxury living. You will also find valuable pieces of (mainly aboriginal) artwork around the rooms and the whole resort.
If you’d like to have a villa with a private outdoor area to yourself, you can splurge on the Rainforest Retreat or the Dream Villa. The Rainforest Retreat is probably the most spectacular one, with an own bathtub pavilion and private beach access!
Things To Do At The Resort
It’s hard to get bored at Paradise Cove Resort!
First of all, there’s the resorts own swimming pool and hot tub. The swimming pool is great to cool off on a hot day, with sun loungers, floating bean bags and a stereo for your own music. On the cooler evenings or after coming back from a soaking wet boat ride, having a drink in the hot tub is just unbeatable!
If you feel like a bit of exercise, spend your free time at the tennis court! It’s got flood lights too, so you can play after dark if it’s too hot during the day.
If you’re not feeling too athletic and would rather go for something a bit less active and more relaxed, head over to the main house and have a go at table tennis or at the pool table.
There’s also the ocean right outside your front door. Go for a swim if the tide is high, or take one of their paddle boards or kayaks out for a ride. You won’t regret it, we spotted four turtles, three little sharks and countless stingrays within less than an hour!
Of course, all these activities are provided free of charge.
In the evening, socialising over one of the available board games / drinking games is a great way to get to know everybody a bit better! Oh and don’t forget to roast some marshmallows on the fire on the first night, you may even spot a dingo, snake or wild pig!
Food & Drinks
You won’t be hungry, that’s for sure. Upon arrival on the first day, there will be a variety of snacks to choose from. From nachos and salsa to veggies and dips or cake and cookies, you should definitely find something you like! Only a few hours later, you’ll be served a delicious dinner and dessert. For us, that consisted of tasty fish with mashed potatoes, side salad and bread, followed by warm apple tart with vanilla sauce.
The next morning there’s breakfast before the long day out, consisting of several cereal options or toast with spreads. Lunch on the boat is great as well, we had tasty sandwiches and wraps with cold cuts, cheese, veggies and so on.
Upon returning to the resort, more snacks were waiting for us, and after we had a few drinks by the pool, yet another delicious dinner (curry with rice) with dessert (chocolate mousse with ice cream) was a great way to finish off this amazing day!
Of course you’ll be served breakfast on the last day as well, before heading out for one last snorkel and then back to Airlie Beach.
Water is available for free at the resort, otherwise there are soft drinks and bottled water available at the resort or on the boat for only 2$ a can / bottle.
The entire trip is BYO alcohol, so you can bring as much as you want from Airlie Beach and have a drink whenever you feel like it!
Who We Booked Ride To Paradise With
We booked through Mad Travel Shop which you’ll find in most Nomads and Base Backpacker Hostels. If you’re not able to afford the AU$550 to AU$750, just see whether any last minute seats are being sold at a significant discount in Airlie Beach. It happens quite often in low season that you can score half price tours on the day of departure or a couple of days in advance. So with a bit of flexibility you could potentially save a lot of money! During high season, the tour frequently sells out though, so you might want to book in advance!
Even though this is one of the most expensive tours that is offered on the Whitsundays, we cannot recommend Ride To Paradise with Red Cat Adventures enough. We’ve been on three separate boats previously and this package is nothing short of excellent! Such that, we actually went twice within a week, go figure! 😉
For any overnight boat tour on the Whitsundays you’ll want to book accommodation in Airlie Beach a few nights before and after your stay, to get settled in and socialise with your friends after the trip back on the mainland. We stayed at Base Backpackers during our time on Airlie Beach, which has a great atmosphere and amazing prices!
So what are you waiting for? Paradise is most certainly waiting for you!
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