Daily Pampering: Sailing Bora Bora in your own private catamaran

You’re already in Bora Bora, what more could you possibly want? Fortunately, the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora has planned for travelers like you, who want just a little bit more with their side of luxury. Adding to its fleet of custom-built boats, Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora has introduced the Navigator, a custom-crafted catamaran, available to guests for transportation in and around Bora Bora.

The Navigator features a full bar, dining tables, rooftop sundeck, lavatory and rinse shower, and a fresh water shower on the rear deck allows guests to refresh back on board. Its low hull design and shallow draft allow it to charter to just about any nearby destination.

Go alone or with a group. The configuration of the interior of the boat allows for guests to have intimate evenings at sear or host small receptions and dinners.

Total cost: At today’s exchange rate a 4-hour rental will run you approximately $900; 8-hour rental will cost $1,500. This is just for the catamaran and captain. If you want to go snorkeling, dine on the ship, hire musicians or a private astronomer (which is available), it’ll cost you extra.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Work and play in Queenland, Australia: Whitsunday Islands

Whether you’re on a working holiday while backpacking or on a more tradition vacation, if you’re in Australia, you’ll want to make your way to the Great Barrier Reef. Being that it’s massive, there are several locations where you can go to explore the GBR, but perhaps the most beautiful is the Whitsunday Islands. Home to 74 islands, crystal clear waters and some of the best sailing, snorkeling and SCUBA diving in the world, the Whitsundays alone may be reason enough to include Queensland on your itinerary in Oz.

Typically, upon hearing about SCUBA diving and, in particular, sailing, many people fear that they will be priced out of a destination. The Whitsundays, however, cater to everyone from the extravagantly wealthy boat owners to the backpackers looking to spend a few days at sea. A natural wonder like the Great Barrier Reef is often the great equalizer when it comes to prices, as businesses will seek to accommodate anyone looking to explore an environment this unique. That means that there is something for everyone in this beautiful corner of the world.



While in the Whitsundays, I was treated to a three-day/two-night sail in the Whitsundays on a catamaran named Whitsunday Getaway, which is operated by Islandive. Sailing out of Abel Point Marina in Airlie Beach, Islandive specializes in sailing and diving packages that allow visitors to explore the Great Barrier Reef and the beauty of the Whitsunday Islands while also getting in the water for some of the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving in the world.

The sleeping quarters on board may be small (as is the nature of any boat that is not a yacht or a luxury cruise ship), but the overall accommodations aboard the Whitsunday Getaway were stellar. We were served prawns, steak, chicken, tea and snacks throughout the excursion. Most of the boats in the Whitsundays are BYO, and Islandive’s vessels are no exception. So, if you want alcohol on your trip, grab some goon or cans of beer (glass is a bad idea on boats) before heading to the marina. You’ll find that, once you’ve finished a day of snorkeling and the sun is beginning to set, everyone will agree that it’s “beer o’clock.” (Aussies are fond of that phrase, and far be it from me to disagree with their nomenclature or logic.)

If you’re backpacking through Australia and want to save a bit of money while still treating yourself to a sail, you don’t need to compromise too much. In fact, you can hop aboard a former championship sailboat and feel the wind in your hair for a few days while not blowing your budget.

Through Explore Whitsundays, you can book various types of sailing packages, including many that are geared towards backpackers in both price and accommodations. One such boat, the Boomerang, was sailing while I was was on Whitsunday Getaway. While the sleeping accommodations were more open and shared by a larger group of people, the guests on board spoke highly of their time on the Boomerang, whose top speed far exceeded that of my catamaran. For a true sailing experience, a boat like the Boomerang can’t be beat. Passengers had ample opportunities to snorkel and see the reef while the boat had its sails down. The menu may be more limited, but if you’re looking to either save some money or simply enjoy the company of other backpackers and young travelers, this experience is the one for you.

Whitehaven Beach

One of the most iconic and oft-visited areas of the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach, which features some of the softest, most pristine sand of any beach in the world. As I spent a morning walking along the shore amongst the cliffs and breaking waves, I felt as if I was placing my feet into baby powder with each step. The scenic overlooks at Whitehaven Beach provide breathtaking views of the nearby islands and the changes in water color created by the reef below. It is nearly impossible to take a disappointing photograph in the Whitsundays, as the view in any direction appears as if its been created for the sole purpose of one day becoming a postcard image.

Most sailing companies include Whitehaven Beach in their packages, yet they manage to keep it from ever becoming over-crowded. As such, you can enjoy the soft sand, crashing waves and gorgeous views without bumping into too many fanny-packed travelers (or bum-bagged travelers, as the Aussies call them).

Know before you go

A trip to the Whitsundays does not require an extended stay. Airlie Beach provides a host of accommodations, but most people only spend a night before or after their sailing adventure. However, it’s definitely worth the trip to Queensland and the Whitsundays for the Great Barrier Reef alone. The experience of seeing the reef, the aquatic life and the seemingly boundless sky above makes it one of the most exquisite places in the world to sail, dive and snorkel. Even in the winter, this region of Australia stays relatively mild and comfortable. The rainy season (October through May – Australian summer) can make for some unpleasant sailing, so it’s often best to plan around that.

If you’re not certified to SCUBA, many companies will offer training dives that allow you dive down to 10 meters with a certified instructor. Training is handled on the boat and you’ll never be more than a few feet from your instructor once you’re in the water. If you are certified, be sure to bring your paperwork with you.

Don’t let the glamorous reputation of the Whitsundays convince you that you cannot afford it. It may be a vacation hot spot for Australia’s rich and famous, but it’s egalitarian when it comes to who can enjoy the seas. Whether you’re on a budget or looking to film an extravagant rap video, you can get yourself on a boat and close to the Great Barrier Reef. If you’ve traveled all the way to Australia, you owe it to yourself to make the trip up to the Whitsundays.

Mike Barish spent a week in Queensland, Australia on a trip sponsored by Backpacking Queensland to see how backpackers find employment and entertain themselves down under. He’ll be sharing what he learned about the logistics of working in Australia’s Sunshine State and the myriad activities that young travelers have at their disposal. Read other entries in his series HERE.

MiniCat: The Boat in a Bag

The MiniCat is a mini-catamaran that folds up into a bag. It’s light enough to carry (40kgs — just under 90lbs) and small enough to fit in your trunk. There are no tools needed to get the cat out of the bag and onto the water, though it does take about a half hour “once experience has been gained,” according to the FAQ. Once your done sailing, it takes about another 20 minutes to get it back into the bag.

Three options are available: Standard, Super, and Sport, with prices starting at £2,450 (roughly $5,000 USD) for the lowest model.

MiniCat-UK.com [via]

St. Lucia There & Back Part 7: Sunset Cruisin’ the Carib

Heading out on a sunset cruise filled with couples and hopeless romantics as a single lady has its pluses and minuses… First, I had the honor of being thrown an occasional glance or two by a cuddling couple probably wondering why I’m not cuddling with someone of my own. Second, I had the opportunity to make conversation with the crew members and locals about all the aggravating things tourists tend to ask practically everyday. Third, I got to laugh with the crew members once all the rum punch kicked in and people got wild and wacky on the dance floor, but the fourth part of going single or hitched is watching an incredible sunset while cruising along the bumpy Caribbean waters. In my case there wasn’t a totally awesome sunset to see – the clouds managed to hide quite a bit of the late afternoon rays and sun as a whole, but I knew I was far lucky than someone else out there who wasn’t sipping on Planter’s Punch just taking time for themselves.

I booked my sunset cruise through Solar Tours & Travel with a woman named Thecla Cockrell. It was scheduled in the late afternoon after my morning helicopter tour and she promised it would make for a pleasant ending to an adventuresome day. She couldn’t have been more right. The catamaran we took off on was named the “Spirit of Carnival” and I set up camp on the front left hand side so that whatever bit of sun was left would be in perfect view. I let everything on my mind drift somewhere far out to a distance I could no longer see or imagine what was actually beyond. I watched the waves bump up against the vessel and then I also had to watch for staggering individuals with beverages making their way back to their own post. And when the music changed from reggae to American favorites like Summer Lovin’ from Grease I was invited to dance with someone’s 60 year old husband and boy could he move!

By this point night had charged its way in and the clouds had transformed into the kind that let out showers of liquid sunshine in the daytime and rain in the night. As we pulled back into dock it started drizzling. It couldn’t have been better timing. I don’t think I fancy the idea of being out on a boat in the rain, but that’s just me.

To find out more on booking a Sunset Cruise or other island activities with Solar Tours & Travel they can be reached by phone at 758.452.5898 or by visiting their website, here. Ask for Thecla Cockrell. The two hour sunset cruise on Spirit of Carnival is $45 which includes drinks, small appetizers to feast on and good music with a dance floor to show off your best and worst moves.