Back to our Airlie Beach vacation! I didn't think anything could top jet skiing and snorkeling, but my favorite activity of the whole trip was the scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands. Despite the fact that I actually hate flying, this was top 5 coolest things I've ever done in my life. We booked with GSL Aviation and coupled the flight with an ocean rafting tour in the afternoon, which I'll post about next.
Thankfully I didn't put too much thought into the actual flight until the morning of, because I wasn't totally prepared for how small the plane would be. I'm not sure what I expected, but this plane was TINY. When we signed all the paperwork and went outside to board, I seriously thought for a minute that we wouldn't make it back, especially when our pilot appeared and looked younger than me. It was too late to back out though, so we got on the plane even after they detailed the "water landing" procedure and made us all strap life jackets around our waists.
We got to wear these headphone contraptions, which made me feel like I was on the Bachelor, because they always take some sort of scenic flight.
The plane! This GoPro picture makes it look a bit more spacious than it was.
We started to taxi down the runway and Peter whipped out the safety card for good measure.
The takeoff was a bit scary, but once we got going the ride was a lot smoother than I expected and somehow I really wasn't too anxious. We went on an extremely still day with little to no wind; had it been really rough I probably would have been so scared the whole time it wouldn't have been as enjoyable.
We flew over some of the Whitsunday Islands first:
Buying this island now.
It took about seven minutes to fly out to the Reef, instead of the three hours we spent on the boat the previous day. The Great Barrier Reef from the sky is the coolest thing in the entire world. There were so many shades of blue in the water and it was really the most amazing thing I've ever seen.
The highlight for me was flying over the famous Heart Reef.
I didn't get the greatest picture ever, but Peter got an awesome video on the GoPro:
I'm not sure how low we got, but the pilot swooped down nice and close to the Reef so we could get some pictures.
Next, we headed seven minutes back toward the Whitsunday Islands and flew over Whitehaven Beach, which is consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world.
Hill Inlet with Whitehaven Beach in the background.
We flew over some of the other islands on our way back to the airport.
The flight lasted an hour and before we knew it we were back on the ground. The landing was pretty much terrifying; all I saw the pilot doing was spinning some wheel next to his seat which doesn't seem legit, but we made it!
Overall, the flight was a really cool experience and Peter and I both thought it was more than worth the money! That said, I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to do it again ;).