Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Remote Wilson Island

Snorkeling the the Great Barrier Reef has been on my "to do list" for years, so we planned to do so from Wilson Island. To get there, you fly to Gladstone and then take a helicopter to Heron Island. From there, you take a boat to Wilson Island. Wilson has six tents (max 12 guests), no kids, and two "hosts," one of whom is a chef and the other a housekeeper/hostess. Meals are served in a main longhouse and the amenities tent houses toilets and a shower stall for each tent. Power is solar and water comes from both rainwater retention and a water barge. There is hot water in the showers.

The helicopter ride was my first, and was surprisingly smooth. They make you wear life jackets and watch a safety film. The film includes the helicopter brace position - and that's funny as one hand is across your forehead as if you are saying, on the way down, "Alas, woe is me!" I can't see how it provides any bracing but it would be funny so you could go down laughing I guess. This photo of the reef is taken from the helicopter. The browns are underwater coral.

The tents on Wilson are great - nice bed, nice furniture, hammocks, no leaking, and you can open or shut the windows. We left the front open. It looks out on the ocean and you can snorkel right off the front of your tent. The tents are arranged so you have some privacy. The view from the bed is awesome in all the tents. Ours is pictured here and was dubbed "Rapture" by the Island.

We planned five days but ended up getting literally stranded on the tropical island by a storm. There were two other guests and our two hosts, and the six of us rode out the storm. There was no way on or off the island for several days, so we communicated via radio, ran low on supplies (including being out of Diet Coke and salt, two of my favorite things), and ran out of things to say to the other two guests. Meals took FOREVER as the chef did not start one course until one finished, and making three hours worth of small talk with strangers every night became a little bit hard.

We ended up not getting to snorkel. We went out and tried a few times but either there was no visibility, it was too cold and choppy, or it was storming the whole time. We got some glimpses in, but that's it. We also walked out at low tide and saw lots of sea life and even a few corals. The island had birds but no other animal life that I saw except one or two insects.

While Wilson is not cheap (you don't want to know...) it was gorgeous, remote, lovely, secluded, quiet and great. We had nothing to do but read and sleep but it was a nice, though longer than planned, break.

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