What an amazing Christmas Day. An early start opening presents, followed by a couple of quick phone calls home (slightly odd with the Christmas Eve / Christmas Day difference!).
Then off for a quick breakfast before Santa’s helicopter arrival on the beach. This was preceded by the elves’ arrival on jets and a quick rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town!
Then it was off for the real treat of the day – we had chartered two helicopters for a tour of the outer reef (Bait, Hook, Hardy, Heart) followed by an hour on Whitehaven Beach. The flight was amazing. Giulio, the pilot, explained how the copter worked and made us feel completely at ease with what was happening. We flew out at about 1,000 feet and 110 knots, which gave great opportunities for photos out over the reef.
We overflew the Reefworld pontoon, before moving on over Hardy Reef, which is home to the amazing, and smaller than expected, Heart Reef. It’s only 3 metres square, and the only piece of reef that’s been identified to be heart-shaped from above.
The water was so clear, we could spot turtles, rays and even bigger fish from above. Picture postcard stuff.
Whitehaven Beach is about five miles long and made of silica sand – the only beach made of this – which means that it isn’t hot under foot. No-one is quite sure why this is the only silica beach in the region. We got dropped off with a bottle of fizz and some water, a couple of umbrellas and a stinger suit for swimming in.
The hour was up too quickly, and we were back on the helicopter for a fifteen minute transit back to Hayman. Our junior pilot had ‘control’ for a lot of the way back, making some smooth turns and adjustments to altitude (although to be fair, Giulio had his hand on the stick throughout in case of emergency!)…
Back on land, we headed into the buffet lunch, which was much better than anticipated. J eagerly signed us up for the bubbly wine buffet, which meant that by mid afternoon, a bottle of Perrier-Jouet had been drunk each, followed later by a third bottle on the balcony of our room!! The food was really good with an extensive seafood buffet and roast beef or turkey with all the trimmings.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in a poolside cabana, snoozing and soaking up the sun. Everyone was too full for any more food, so the evening was spent finishing off the bubbly and playing Uno on the balcony.
An amazing day all round.