Hazelwood Island in the Whitsunday Islands

by Rod

in Sea Kayaking

Day 6 of our Cumberland Island Adventure

Day 6 in theory was to be a rest day – A short paddle and some snorkeling around Hazelwood Island.  We ended up almost completely paddling around the outside of the group of Islands including Hazelwood, Lupton and Pallion Islands a distance of 26 kilometers. Collin was not amused. As well as the paddling we did some snorkeling. “Not exactly a rest Day.”

Paddling around Hazelwood Island

Click on the map to see a larger view and hit the back arrow to return to the post.

A picturesque morning, almost glass conditions in the bay off Whitehaven Beach with a whale performing only a couple hundred meters off the beach. We had a leisurely breakfast, because we were coming back to the same camp site we didn’t have to pack all our gear back into the kayaks. That was nice for a change. Because there would be a lot of day tripping tourist around during the day, we thought we should clean up before we left for the day.

Whale off Whitehaven Beach

Our plan for the day was to paddle out around to the southern side of Hazelwood Island and make our way around to a couple bays where we would look for some sheltered snorkeling conditions. As we made our way through Salway Passage and then between Teague and Hazelwood Island we found we were heading straight into a 15-20 km/hr SE wind and then as we headed around the points on the southern side of the island. This made for some interesting paddling. There was a about a meter swell coming through hitting the cliffs of the island and bouncing off making very confused water with waves coming from both directions. Hazelwood Island is truly a great place for sea kayaking with plenty of bays and interesting rock formations to investigate. I could have spent a couple days just paddle around these couple islands.

Dav & Eric heading around Hazelwood Island

Snorkeling Around the Whitsundays

If you are planning a sea kayaking snorkeling trip around the Whitsunday Islands, there are a couple things that are worth considering.

  1. Tide Times, If snorkeling is a priority and then you will probably be swimming around the middle of the day. If it is possible plan your trip around having low tide in the middle of the day. This will give you the best opportunity to see more coral when it is close to the surface.
  2. Tide sizes, Around the full moon are the biggest tide variation and therefore the biggest tidal runs. This will stir up more sediment in the water and make the water murky and this cut down on the visibility.
  3. Irukandji jellyfish have been found in the Whitsundays and have stung swimmers. I believe they are more common during the summer months but I would advise wearing a stinger suit while swimming. The Irukandji jellyfish are very small with a bell about 5 millimetres to 10 millimetres wide and four long tentacles, which range in length from just a few centimeters up to 1 metre  in length.The stingers are in clumps, appearing as rings of small red dots around the bell and along the tentacles. This information and more can be found in Wikipedia here.

Because snorkeling had not been our major reason for our trip, we had picked the exact opposite conditions so our snorkeling was not going to be the best.

An unusual fish

One thing to remember as well if you do as we did, is to make sure you tie good knots. While we were snorkeling we would just come upon some coral, put on our snorkeling gear and jumped out of our kayaks and tie our kayaks to us and towed them around behind us. I came up from snorkeling to find my kayak not behind me. All I was towing was an empty rope. Luckily the guys were back in their kayaks and brought it back to me.

Hazelwood Island

On the way back across the Salway Passage, Eric decided to make a break for it and head straight across, where as the rest of us hugged the island until we were straight across from the bottom point of Whitehaven Beach. There we did a huge fairy glide across the now running current. Meanwhile Eric made good ground in his attack as well. When Eric was about half way across a whale surfaced not more than 20 meters away from him giving quite a surprise. Stopping paddling momentarily to see where the whale was, it was gone. Then it surfaced another 20 – 30 meters away from him on the other side. It had swam directly under his kayak. He had a great story to tell us when we met up again on the beach.

By the time we arrived back at our campsite, most of the day trips were leaving and again we had the Whitehaven Beach to ourselves.

Relaxing after a great day

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