Sailing & Snorkeling

Headshot of Lily Nannini.
Lily Nannini
May 9, 2024

Now that it's fall in Sydney, I'm really grateful my last couple trips were up north where the weather still felt like summer. I didn’t plan my trips like that but, looking back, it worked out really well. Doing Tassie, Melbourne + surf camp in the beginning when it was properly summer was perfect.




Unfortunately, I got sick at the beginning of this trip so the majority of it wasn’t too exciting, but still very relaxing. It also worked out (and didn’t work out) in my favor that the weather wasn’t great the whole week. Strong winds, scattered rain showers and dark clouds characterized most of our days on Daydream Island. Nevertheless, this trip did not deter me from enjoying my time in the Whitsundays. If anything, it gave me even more of a reason to return to Australia and continue exploring. 


DAY 1 

We completely balled out on this trip. I booked it through a travel agency that figured everything out for us, so all we had to do was show up. We got an Uber to the airport and, for the first time since arriving in Australia, got to choose window seats AND check a bag!! We flew into Hamilton Island and got our prepaid tickets for the ferry transfer to Daydream Island. Luckily, the weather was super warm and sunny so the ride was very pleasant. Upon arrival we were greeted with welcome drink mimosas, by far the fanciest I’ve felt in my entire life. We put our stuff into the room (a massive first floor poolside with two queen beds, a huge flat screen TV, bedside tables, a desk, two chairs and a spacious bathroom. We wandered around the island then went to Salti for dinner. The company we booked through also gave us $250 worth of wine and dine credit, in addition to $110 for lunch and $110 for dinner at Salti. Although the trip itself cost me my right kidney, I didn’t spend a dime the entire time I was there :) From a girl math perspective and considering I paid for the trip in advance, it was basically free! 



We woke up early for sunrise, but the horizon was covered in clouds. We went to the much anticipated breakfast buffet; it did not disappoint. There was tons of fresh fruit, including whole passionfruit and dragon fruit! We walked through the rain forest after breakfast which led us to Lovers Cove. The beach was entirely made up of coral and shells and they also offered free snorkeling here! Side note about water activities: the island had jet skis as well as free kayaks and paddle boards to use but, unfortunately due to the weather conditions and strong winds, we couldn’t take advantage of them this trip: (We lounged by the pool for a while, checked out the living reef center and played bingo at 2 p.m. Bingo in Australia is really weird. I like normal U.S. Bingo. I went to the gym which was very tiny and subpar in my opinion (of the few machines they had many were broken), but they had a yoga mat so I did a mat pilates video and it was good. It was also a plus that nobody ever came into the gym whenever I was there. For dinner, we went to Infinity (there are only two restaurants on the island) and I got really delicious veggies and chicken, as well as a molten chocolate cake for dessert. The hotel TV offered tons of free movies, so we watched Tangled before going to bed.



We gave the sunrise another shot this morning but only got clouds. This blog might sound a little monotonous, but the trip really was relaxing. Getting sick kind of reminded me of something I read where you are always going nonstop and always on alert, when you finally get a chance to fully settle down it all catches up to you. That’s kinda how I felt about being sick during this trip. Anyway, we went to the breakfast buffet. I got my usual: coffee with milk, pear juice, hashbrown with poached egg smoked salmon and capers, apricot danish and fresh fruit. We went to Salti for lunch and got pizza (four cheese and prosciutto pear) and affogato. The pizza and affogato were both heavenly. The resort offered windy weather day activities, so we went to trivia at 2pm. I went to the gym again then later that night we ate our leftover cold pizza and watched Hannah Montana: The Movie. 


Sunrise was a fail, but we had to get up early anyway. Got my usual at the breakfast buffet, then got on the ferry to Port Airlie for our Camira day trip. We got so incredibly lucky with the weather for this day. Sailing through the Whitsunday passage was crazy. The waves were rough but only for a few really big ones, then it calmed down. It was really fun and exciting, but I don’t think I could have taken much more if it went on longer. We got to see Whitehaven Beach from three different platforms and the pictures simply do not do it justice. All I could see in front of me was swirls of the most pristine white sand and turquoise blue water. I learned that the sand is composed of 98.9% pure silica. Back on the boat, we went to a spot for snorkeling. The entire day, the crew had good music playing and continuously offered refreshments and food. There was an “open bar” which consisted of a massive cooler with beer, wine and cider, as well as a cooler with sodas and a water bubbler. All food was included in the price and they offered things like ham and cheese croissants, fresh prawns, cheese, crackers, watermelon, hummus, burgers/a full barbecue with toppings like pineapple, beets, salad, potato salad and dessert (brownies, muffins, etc). I would highly recommend this day trip to anyone. There were also two super clean, functional bathrooms on board with running sink water and hand dryers. The boat itself was spacious and had two really big nets that you could sit on in the front. 

On the ride back to Airlie, I had two really great conversations with people on the boat. The first was with two women from Canada. The one woman had been to Australia before and did a working holiday visa, but was currently in Australia as a trip funded by her work. She brought her sister along as well and she urged me to travel and keep doing what I was doing as much as I could. They both had families, husbands, houses, and kids at home, and obviously didn’t talk negatively about them, but pointed out how travel isn’t the same once those things come into your life. They emphasized how much they love their kids and how being away from them just doesn’t feel right, so I should be taking these opportunities before I settle down and have kids. The one sister also told me about how she regretted being so hasty to get a proper job and start her family right away. She talked about how it’s harder to go away on vacations like this once you’re locked into a job like that. Her saying that to me made me feel 1000x better about the trajectory of my future. I still have no clue what I want to do after I graduate, but I know I want to continue traveling. 

I also met a guy from New Hampshire which ended up being one of my most memorable and serendipitous encounters in possibly my entire life. He told me he was from New Hampshire and this is going to sound crazy, but somehow I had a feeling that he had some kind of connection to the Cape. Don’t ask me how I knew that but I just did. After he asked me what part of Massachusetts I was from and I told him the Cape, he said “no way” and showed me his right forearm with the entire cape tattooed onto it. This guy also served in the army and thru-hiked the AT. He was genuinely so fun and awesome to talk to and let me ask all my questions about thru-hiking. We saw dolphins at the front of the boat!!! This day taught me that there are opportunities to meet people all the time, you just have to be willing to start a conversation. I love getting to know where others are from, and what brings them to this moment that we’re sharing together. The weather was perfect, the sunset was perfect, and this entire day was perfect. This day is the definition of what one of my dream days would look like, and before living it I would never have known that that would be the case. We took the ferry back to Daydream Island and got tiramisu and french fries for dinner from Salti. A shower and bed never felt so good. 


The sky was covered in clouds but we managed to see some orange and pink seep through a small break. We went to breakfast for the last time and then checked out. It was Anzac Day, so I got a free Anzac biscuit with my double shot iced hazelnut latte. Oh my gosh I didn’t realize what an Anzac biscuit was (basically like an oatmeal cookie) but it was SO good. The ferry ride back was a little bumpy, definitely not like the ride when we first arrived. This trip went by way too fast like I knew it would and, miraculously, my cold had subsided by the time we got back to Sydney.


Journal Quotes

  • “felt like a movie” 
  • “I was so unwell”
  • “A literal dream”
  • “Barely 8 p.m. but abt to get into bed”
  • “Sailing thru the whitsunday passage was insane”
  • “Told us how they regret not traveling more/being more adventurous while they were young + able, before buying a house, settling down + having kids”
  • “Genuine, whole-hearted laughter + smiles the entire time”
  • “Talked to a guy named michael. he is so freaking cool. from NH, served in the army, thru-hiked the AT!!! oh and also he has the FREAKING CAPE TATTOOED ON HIS ARM.”
  • “Sky was endlessly blue, no more clouds!”
  • “The boat playlist also slapped”
  • “Beyond content. surrounded by ppl all enjoying the moment + being happy”
  • “One of those moments i wish i could freeze + relive forever”
  • “Total H2O moment”
  • “Watched Hannah Montana the movie”



I won’t give a detailed recount of each day from this trip because the majority of it was spent at sea, but this was a perfect way to end study abroad. For one, this trip was significantly cheaper than the Whitsundays and arguably included more for the money (still sad that we couldn’t do any water sports at Daydream). After living off rice cakes and microwave frozen dinners for the past four months, the plentitude of food options on board was beyond enticing. Included in the price of the cruise was a burger place, pizza, deli, Indian food, breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet, restaurant breakfast, restaurant dinner, and a soft serve ice cream machine. I loved how you could take your food anywhere on the ship. There were also plenty of places to get drinks and additional venues that required spending money (fancy steakhouse, seafood place, coffee shops). 

I have so much respect for the workers on the cruise ship. They were always so friendly, smiling and saying hello every time I walked by. I am blown away by how well they stayed on top of going around with the mop on the deck, clearing away empty cups and dishes and wiping up food around the buffet and other dining areas. It was really nice being able to leave my cups and plates and know that it would be taken away almost immediately. It blew me away when I realized I never had to throw a single thing in the trash or do any dishes. Again, so much respect.

In addition to the workers around the main areas of the ship, our housekeeper did a phenomenal job with our room. The towel animals were adorable, the beds were ridiculously comfy (it should be illegal how comfortable those beds were) and the room itself was beyond cozy. We got upgraded for free to an oceanview stateroom the night before which I was so grateful for. I loved looking out the window, and our room was so spacious. We had more storage than we could have possibly needed, a couch, a huge desk and two chairs. The bathroom was also perfect and had three shelves on each side of the sink to put our stuff. It’s crazy how the bathroom in our cruise room got cleaned more in the eight days we were there than my shared bathroom in Sydney has in the 4.5 months I’ve been abroad.

As for activities, there was definitely no shortage of things to do on board. My whole rationale for going on a cruise in the first place was as follows: (1) I was tired of planning every single trip and just wanted to be stuck on a ship with nothing to do and no stress about getting everything done (2) when else am I gonna live in a place that has the cruise terminal right there? I remember my parents saying that the flights to Florida for the last cruise we went on were more expensive than the cruise itself (3) the food, room and activities were an added bonus. We played bingo, we went to karaoke, we played trivia, we played card games, we did line dancing and deck parties, we watched the sunset, we relaxed under the sun and I think I got more tan on this trip than I did my entire time being in Australia. I finally got around to reading a book for pleasure (shoutout The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand, this might be my new favorite book). The gym on board was also AMAZING, actually better than the one at UNSW. All the equipment was clean and seemed either very new or very well-kept. 

I did have to take my last final exam on board, so the WiFi package had to be purchased. I hate taking timed tests so this was particularly rough, but I’m just grateful the WiFi wasn’t an issue. I worked my butt off this entire semester in all of my classes, and am really proud to have gotten an 85 on my 3000 level Nazi Germany course research essay (I’ve never written a research essay in my life and haven’t taken a history class since middle school, but I poured my heart and soul into that thing). Side note: Australian grading makes no sense to me. Apparently an 85 is equivalent to an A in the U.S. and someone told me it’s extremely hard to get over a 65 as an international student, so seeing my hard work pay off was definitely rewarding. I put every ounce of motivation I had left into that exam but don’t feel great about it. At least it’s over!!!

We had three days at port in the middle of our trip: Noumea, Lifou, Noumea. These islands were part of New Caledonia, a French territory. My absolute favorite day was our last day at port where we went on a sailing trip from Noumea to Signal Island. These two trips have definitely convinced me of my love for sailing and snorkeling. The ride out was really lovely and I got to sit in the net at the front of the boat (my favorite!!). When we got to the island, we were given snorkel gear and got to jump right off the boat and make our way back to the dock/beach. I saw massive sea turtles, schools of fish, sand dollars—it was a dream. I wanted to stay on that island snorkeling and lying in the sun forever. It’s bittersweet that this is my last travel blog from Australia, and my final one will be a reflection of my time here. If you read my other blog that compares my study abroad experiences, you might notice how I wasn’t a huge fan of Sydney (again, not a city person), but I hope all the blogs about my travels show how much I love Australia. 

journal quotes

  • “Cruise by FGL was playing!”
  • “Our room is quite spacious”
  • “Sunset was absolutely unreal”
  • “Slept so good. love this room”
  • “Started reading hotel nantucket”
  • “Red chili pepper mouth on fire but i handled it pretty elegantly” 
  • “Took arts3295 final exam. it was rough. head felt like it was abt to explode but holy sh-t i’m officially done w/ junior year of college. rewarded myself with an ice cream cone”
  • “Three guys singing Riptide was the highlight of my night”
  • “Still can’t believe it’s May…”
  • “The most blissful feeling”

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Headshot of Lily Nannini.

Lily Nannini

Hi! I'm Lily and I'm from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I currently attend Washington and Lee University in Virginia. I'm always down for spontaneous adventures, catching sunrise/sunset, and taking pictures of food:) When I graduate college I want to renovate a van and travel the country, visiting every U.S. National Park as I go. Hopefully I'll have a golden retriever with me too. I love meeting new people and gaining new experiences, so I am extremely excited for this term in Vienna!

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