Magical Whitsundays with Instagrammer @helloemilie

15 July 2016

The Whitsunday Islands in Queensland are known for their iconic beauty but sometimes it takes a special eye to see that beauty in a whole new light. Enter artist and Instagrammer Emilie Ristevski (@helloemilie), who visited the region recently – including Hamilton Island, Whitehaven Beach and Hardy Reef, where she enjoyed an overnight Reef Sleep adventure. Here she shares her thoughts on, and images of, this extraordinary part of Australia.

Was this your first time in the Whitsundays?

Yes this was my first time visiting the Whitsundays! I have only heard the most wonderful things about this destination, so I was very excited to be able to experience it for myself.

Emilie Ristevski watches the sunset at Hardy Reef from the Reefworld pontoon in the Whitsundays. Emilie finds a peaceful spot on Hardy Reef. Picture: Emilie Ristevski

What was your first impression of the Whitsundays?

When we first arrived (on Hamilton Island), I noticed such a calm vibe to the whole island, which was really inviting. When we first saw Whitehaven Beach, I was mesmerised by the colours and it has left such a beautiful lasting impression on me.

How is it different to other parts of Australia?

Being only a short plane trip away, it really does feel as though you have travelled to a remote tropical island, far away from anywhere else. The views of the ocean, the colours and spending time exploring parts of the Great Barrier Reef are completely different to most parts of Australia I have experienced before.

A lone boat leaves a white wake in the blue waters of the Whitsundays. Swirling colours of sand and sea from the air. Picture: Emilie Ristevski

Favourite shot from the trip?

My favourite shot from the trip would have to be some of the aerial images taken while flying over the beautiful blue waters. The beautiful patterns and textures of the reef and the swirling colours of the sand and water were so beautiful and surreal to capture from above.

What was the highlight of the trip?

One of the highlights of the trip was waking up in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef after spending the night sleeping and floating upon the ocean (with Reef Sleep). Watching the sun slowly rise over the sea and being surrounded by just water in every direction was such a unique magical experience.

A pale pink and purple sunrise in the Whitsunday Islands. Candy-floss clouds caress distant islands in the Whitsundays. Picture: Emilie Ristevski

More Whitsundays inspiration:

How to Spend 4 Days in the Whitsundays

Hamilton Island & the Whitsundays Like a Local


Tips for first-timers?

Make sure you find some time for snorkelling and experiencing the ocean and also spend at least one sunset at One Tree Hill for a beautiful view of Hamilton Island and a perfect place for an afternoon drink.

Perfect beach spot?

There are lots of beautiful hidden tropical beaches found throughout many of the islands. Although my favourite experience on this trip would have to be spent at Whitehaven Beach.

Instagrammer Emilie Ristevski steps into the surreal blue waters of Whitehaven Beach, with moored yachts in the background. Stepping out into the surreal blue waters at Whitehaven Beach. Picture: Emilie Ristevski

Thoughts on Whitehaven?

So beautiful it almost felt surreal! The colours of the water are the most beautiful blues and turquoise combined with pure-white sand, making it such a special place in Australia. It is one of the most peaceful places to swim and spend the day.

What would you recommend to your friends about the Whitsundays?

I would definitely recommend a helicopter ride over Heart Reef and Hill Inlet. These are some of the most breathtaking aerial views I have experienced in Australia and something I will never forget.

Tiny Heart Reef seen from the air in the Whitsundays. A helicopter ride over Heart Reef is a must. Picture: Emilie Ristevski

Next time around what would you like to do/see?

I would love to visit and experience some of the other islands around the Whitsundays, along with a sea plane ride to a beautiful secluded beach and possibly try scuba diving next time!

How would you describe the Whitsundays in three words?

Peaceful, colourful, paradise

Viewed from the air, a seaplane takes a breather at Whitehaven Beach, as a couple take a picnic on the sands and a boat motors by. A sea plane will drop you off at a secluded part of Whitehaven Beach. Picture: Emilie Ristevski

Where are you off to next?

I have a few new adventures coming up – some I can’t say too much about but I am off to Europe and Switzerland soon! So much of the world I can’t wait to see with my own eyes!


Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to the Whitsundays.


Renae Spinks

Travel for me is about conversations and connections. There’s nothing like setting foot in a new land and meeting people a world apart. From talking to North Sea fishermen in Norway’s Lofoten Islands to breakfast chat at a B&B in my own back yard, there’s always a story to share and a tale to tell.