Club Crocodile Resort on Long Island, part of the remote Whitsunday island chain off the eastern coast of Australia was a paradise I had never before experienced. Reachable only by 30 minute ferry ride and consisting of one solitary hotel it was definitely a memorable highlight of my trip to the land down under in summer (their winter) 2004.
Imagine, a lush tropical oasis thick with thriving trees and wildlife giving way to a sandy resort which makes up the single inhabited “town” on the entire island where the only thing to do is “nothing.” Population: resort staff and varying tourist. Area: less than one square mile. Industry: leisure!
You emerge from your hotel room to find the ground outside covered in pale blue butterflies. As you make your way down the path, they swarm around you like a dreamy scene in a Disney fairy tale (that’s one way to start your day off with a smile). After breakfast you must tackle the toughest decision faced by vacationers around the world on a daily basis: what to do, what to do? After stopping by the poolside bar (even if it is only 10 a.m. this is a vacation after all) you choose a very appropriately festive Piña Colada (by the way, the legal drinking age is only 18) and decide to steak your claim on a particularly inviting stretch of beach. Lying in the sun under the crystal clear sky, the temperature is a perfect 78? as you watch the tide slowly recede further and further until you can walk a good half mile out into the warm Pacific Ocean. There’s no need for a dock as the sail boats on the horizon are now beached, their sailors disembark down step ladders and walk nonchalantly up the compacted wet sand to the bar as children play Frisbee seemingly in the middle of the ocean. A quick lunch, some more sunbathing, (possibly another drink), and soon enough the sun is setting on your relaxing day.
Back in your room, after a rejuvenating nap (all this relaxing is exhausting!) and a shower, it’s back down to the beach for dinner at the lone restaurant where all the people you’ve observed all day have literally no choice but to gather and eat together like old friends. This atmosphere creates a camaraderie amongst the guests and staff alike that really makes it hard to fathom ever having to leave. Hours pass and you step outside to find the most elaborate display of stars you have ever seen. Still at low tide, the further out you walk from shore the more vibrant the stars grow, the Southern Cross predominately displayed amongst them. Heading back to your room you find that in place of the butterflies that greeted you this morning, small kangaroos graze in the grassy lawn waiting to bid you good night. They don’t exactly swarm to you like said butterflies, more like skittishly high tail it for the tree line but still, you can’t believe all the incredible things you’ve seen here and you truly dread the ferry that will take you back to the mainland in the morning.
I stayed at some amazing places on my trip; saw and did amazing things. I made stops in Cairns and Sydney, slept in the rainforest and on a cattle ranch, stayed at some four star resorts (our hotel on Frasier Island was on the Travel Channels best hotel list) and some rather questionable motels, I snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef, learned to play cricket, and order food in true Australian slang but by far my favorite and most vivid memory is the little time I spent on Long Island. All the details described above, believe it or not, is the actual one full day I spent there (yes, I know the butterflies sound made up!).
If I could advise anyone seeking a leisurely vacation or just the chance for a once in a lifetime experience I would encourage them whole heartedly to look into visiting the Whitsundays. I was only 18 at the time of my stay, just out of high school and about to start college, I had never traveled internationally (or without my mommy) and jumped at the opportunity to visit Australia (as part of an EF Tours group) if for nothing else, the bragging rights. The experience was so eye opening and one that I am so thankful to have had that I know I will always remember even the littlest details. Sadly, this trip to Australia nearly six years ago is the only trip of this magnitude that I have been lucky enough to go on (yet!) but I am confident that no matter where my travels take me I will never have that same experience I had as a sheltered California kid discovering the world.
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