Last month I chartered a catamaran on the Whitsunday Islands

and invited my entire family, including my parents, to join me in experiencing the Great Barrier Reef by boat.

Known as bareboating, this has been voted the Best Cruise or Yachting Experience in Australia at the Australian Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards repeatedly.

I recommend bareboating without hesitation and would do it again (what a dream trip) in the blink of a fisheye… Here’s why:

1.      The 74 Whitsunday islands and islets are rated as one of the world’s most beautiful sailing grounds and there is nothing to beat navigating your course to sail past the ones of choice and then arrive on a deserted white sandy beach by boat to explore.

2.      The charter company provides such a comprehensive brief and back-up advice with daily check-ins, you are empowered with confidence to embark on this exciting new experience self skippering. Sails are up and away we go!

Leora on boat

3.      You will be the first to see the whales breaching and gleaming dolphins break the surface beside you in deep blue waters.

4.      Your proximity to the wondrous reefs of tropical fish and coral does not get any better. I started and ended each day with a dreamy swim and snorkel in this natural paradise. We loved taking off on our dinghy as a group to snorkel a reef together.

5.      Cruise in style with comfortable cabins (each family had their own shower and toilet) and sunny decks to stretch out on with a great book while the coffee brews.

6.      Outdoor meals and freshly caught fish. We loved our galley/ kitchen and tuna steaks (caught in the open sea) seared on the outdoor barbecue. We toasted each day’s end – smeared crimson by the sinking sun – with great appreciation.

Fish on boat

7.      Mooring for the night, gently bobbing under twinkling stars in iconic Blue Pearl Bay and Butterfly Bay is a surreal experience not to be missed. We explored forests and island walking tracks. On Hook Island, you’ll find breathtaking lookouts and several Aboriginal cave shelters along the way.

8.      Stop off at Hamilton Island for a tasty meal (it boasts 13 restaurants) and shopping. Enjoy a coffee or glass of wine on the Bommie Deck, the outdoor bar at the Yacht Club with jaw-dropping waterfront views.

9.      Discover Whitehaven Beach, 7kms of pristine white silica sand and aqua waters, voted one of the very best beaches in the world. Oprah was flown here during her most recent Australia tour. Simply not to be missed.

10. This is the most intimate experience for traveling with treasured family or friends – you are all a vital part of the crew and together will relish each discovery (such as turtle sightings), and chortle at the day’s heart-warming discoveries.

Discover more of Australia.

Images via Leora Rothschild, David Clode, Pixabay