Ocean Rafting Airlie Beach: Review

Here I review the tour we did with Ocean Rafting (Airlie Beach) including snorkelling at Hook Island, Hill Inlet Lookout and Whitehaven Beach.

Ocean Rafting boat.

If you’re looking for a fun and active way to explore the Whitsundays then I highly recommend booking a tour with Ocean Rafting.

From the fast but comfortable speed boat, to the rocking tunes and friendly crew, everything about this tour is top notch. We snorkelled on beautiful reefs, took in one of the best views in the world and chilled on one of the world’s most famous beaches.

There was plenty of variety to the day to ensure you were always enjoying yourself and kept entertained, but we never felt rushed at any point (although each spot was so amazing you were sad to leave).

Clear blue water of Whitehaven Beach.

Everyone in our group, from the 9-year olds to the 50-something year olds had the best time. Read on to see what makes this such a great day out.

Click here to view my Instagram story to get an insight into a day on tour with Ocean Rafting.

Disclaimer: We were guests of Ocean Rafting for the purpose of writing this review. This in no way affects my review and all views expressed are honest and my own.

What Whitsunday tours are on offer?

Ocean Rafting offer two Whitsunday Island tours: the Northern Exposure and the Southern Lights.

The basic difference between the two is that the Northern Exposure includes two snorkelling stops, and the Southern Lights only has one snorkelling stop, but gives you extra time to chill on Whitehaven Beach.

Mum and kids snorkelling underwater.

Being massive fans of the ocean and snorkelling, we opted for the Northern Exposure in order to maximise our time on the reef with the fish.

The tour is divided into three activities: Snorkelling, a bush walk to Hill Inlet Lookout, and relaxation on Whitehaven Beach.

You can join the Ocean Rafting tour in either Airlie Beach or Daydream Island.

Discount! You can get 10% off any Ocean Rafting tour using the discount code “mumonthemove”. This includes their ocean rafting and scenic flight tours.

Snorkelling at Hook Island

Our Whitsundays tour kicked off with two snorkelling stops around Hook Island. Hook Island is the second largest island in the Whitsundays and is renowned for its rugged beauty and excellent snorkelling spots among its sheltered bays.

Ocean Rafting boat at Mackerel Bay.

Ocean Rafting choose their Hook Island snorkelling spots based on weather, tides and time of year, so you won’t know until the day which reef you will be doing to.

Our first stop was Saba Bay and we followed this up with nearby Mackerel Bay. Other famous reefs you may be lucky enough to visit include Manta Ray Bay, Maureen’s Cove or Luncheon Bay.

Saba Bay is a popular spot at this time of year, but we happily only had to share it with one other boat. The water was crystal clear and flat as a pancake, making for excellent snorkelling conditions and I have never seen so many vibrantly coloured clams in one spot. We also saw several turtles from the boat here.

Beautiful blue clam underwater.

Mackerel Bay offers a circular fringing reef teeming with life. Although the reef is unfortunately still recovering from the effects of Cyclone Debbie in 2017, we saw an abundance of sea life here, including colourful clams and fish, sting rays and a family of very cute baby squid.

In our experience, the snorkelling here at Hook Island was better than we experienced out on the Great Barrier Reef at Harvey Reef.

Hill Inlet Lookout

Hill Inlet Lookout is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in the Whitsundays, and with good reason! The view from here will blow you away.

The Ocean Rafting tour includes a guided walk up to Hill Inlet Lookout. It’s a short, easily manageable bush walk up the hill (keep a look out for wildlife; we spotted two tree snakes!) and the view that greets you is absolutely world class.

Man at Hill Inlet Lookout platform.

Hopefully you will be blessed with a sunny day as we were, as the array of blues and turquoises radiating off the ocean and contrasting with the pure white sand is next-level beautiful.

Gaze out over the swirling, whirling colours and look down to see the sting rays and the lemon sharks to appreciate just how clear those waters are.

You can check out my Instagram reel here for a sneak peek of the experience.

Whitehaven Beach

The tour ends with lunch and some chill time on beautiful Whitehhaven Beach, voted #1 Best Beach in the World in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2021.

This stunning unspoiled beach stretches for seven kilometres and gleams brightly thanks to its 98 percent pure white silica sand. The sand is so fine and pure that it squeaks when you walk!

Kids running on Whitehaven Beach.

Juxtaposed with the crystal clear waters lapping on the beach and the swirling turquoise colours in the bay, its easy to see how this beach has won the hearts of people around the world.

As a consequence, Whitehaven is understandably popular. However, Ocean Rafting is the only tour operator to have to have direct access to Hill Inlet beaches and so we enjoyed a couple of hours in Champagne Bay with the calm shallow waters practically to ourselves.

Keep a look out for sting rays, we saw loads of them here. So cool.

From here it’s a fast and fun high-speed ride home to give you time to reflect on a whirlwind of new happy memories.

Discount! You can get 10% off any Ocean Rafting tour using the discount code “mumonthemove”. This includes their ocean rafting and scenic flight tours.

Click here to visit the Ocean Rafting website to learn more.

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