Let me introduce you to my perfect (very) long weekend break: sailing the Great Sandy Strait along the west coast of Fraser Island.
From Hervey Bay, you can take possession of a nice catamaran and go for an adventure with your friends along the wildest coast of Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island called Paradise (K’gari) by the local Aboriginal people.
It’s disconnected from the world. It’s remote. It’s relaxing. It’s in connexion with nature. It’s my favourite place in Australia. And it’s close to Brisbane.
If you look for the best destination for sailing in Australia, the Whitsundays Islands always make it to the top. And the Great Sandy Strait often comes second.
I think the photos will be enough to describe why I keep going back for more sailing around Fraser Island/K’gari. Still, let’s make a quick list of why I love this destination:
- the stunning contrasts of the deep blue and the sandbanks
- the incredible opportunity to access remote places on my favourite island in the world (empty beaches, beautiful colored sand cliffs, freshwater creeks…)
- the amazing marine life (dolphins, sharks, rays…)
- the sunsets on the ocean
Sailing is not as hard and as expensive as you think
Sailing is not cheap, that’s true. But it was way more affordable than I first imagined if you compare to holiday costs in Australia.
On our catamaran, the Magnetic Islander, the most expensive rate is $690/night for up to 8 people. Less than $90/person. That’s the price of most hotel rooms in Australia – and they don’t have unlimited sea views and activities included!
Compare it to an all-included package. A sailing trip includes accommodation and activities. You’ll have to purchase your own food and drinks, but that’s no extra cost compared to what you’d spend at home. It’s even cheaper if you’re lucky when fishing! My point is that there’s no extra expense and temptations when you’re on the water (except if you’re too impatient and use the motors – as fuel is charged extra).
Sailing is not easy, that’s true. There’s no license required to drive the boats but there’s no point in signing for it if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, if you know the basics of sailing and have experience on a small catamaran, it won’t be too hard to take control of the bigger catamaran there. The Great Sandy Strait is well protected and the water is rather flat. Dangers and areas to avoid are quite easy to see. Risks are limited, and the GPS helps a lot.
No one in your group has sailing experience? You may try to charter a boat with a skipper included if you have the budget.
Otherwise, your best option could be to join a tour. Viator* has a selection of tours from Hervey Bay, click here to see it.
Sailing isn’t for everyone
Some will get bored. Some will get seasick. Some won’t have enough comfort. Some will miss the long showers…
I love sailing, but I know it won’t please everybody.
Being on a boat for a few hours is different than being on a boat for a few days.
If you’re not interested in manoeuvring the boat, pack some good books or games to keep you entertained.
Good news: while sailing the Great Sandy Strait, it was easy to anchor the boat and reach the beach to vary the activities.
How to organise a sailing trip around Fraser Island
We hired our boat with Fraser Escapes. They have four vessels to sleep from 6 to 11 people.
The minimum rental duration during off-peak season is three nights, which means you need a five-day break for this adventure. Be prepared to have a long briefing in the morning when you arrive; you won’t leave Hervey Bay port before midday.
You’ll sail on the west side of Fraser Island. Don’t expect to visit all the touristy spots that usual Fraser Island tours include. You’ll be sailing on the other side of the island.
Responsible travel tip: The water you use for showering and washing dishes or your teeth will go directly into the ocean. The best solution is to choose eco-friendly products, like the natural handmade soap from Lush. At least, avoid using those with microplastic, bleach or chlorine. An eco-friendly sunscreen and insect repellent will make a difference as well not to pollute the ocean and protect marine life.
Ready to try? Or have you already been on sailing holidays? Leave a comment below to share your experience!
Looking for more sailing destinations? Read my Guide on How to Charter a Bareboat for Sailing in Australia!
Where is K’gari (Fraser Island)?
It takes 3.5 hours to drive from Brisbane to Hervey Bay, on the eastern coast of Australia. From there, you can rent a boat and sail around Fraser Island. Hervey Bay airport also has direct flights from Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
Hervey Bay is famous for being the holiday destination for humpback whales during winter. They take a break there during their annual migration along the east coast.
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