After nine months in which we moved country and endured full-time work, constant child-care (and the inevitable early mornings), mortgage applications and house plans, it was time for a break.
Ideally, I’d have preferred a week to myself at a health farm, but it seemed my husband was eager to accompany me. “Really?” I said. “You’re sure you don’t want to stay here with our son?” It seemed that he wanted a holiday with me, accompanied by all the romantic trimmings we experienced pre-child.
We booked a holiday to the Whitsundays, successfully bribed the grandparents, and I made a quick dash to the shops for a flattering bikini (as well as some urgent waxing!). Leaving on a plane always makes you feel much happier and more relaxed, but once we’d arrived at the beautiful Hamilton Island and stepped aboard the sleek Cumberland Charter Yacht that was to be ours for the next day and night, we finally, finally left all our stresses behind.
The two of us
However, there was still one worry. According to reports, going on holiday with your other half may be the quickest way to fall out of love with your spouse. It’s believed as we only spend such short amounts of time together each day – due to the time demands of work and family – that the shock of being together 24/7 is too much strain for some relationships to bear.
Would this happen in our case? To ensure we didn’t just move our stresses to another postcode, we made a vow: no conversations about mortgages, children, house designs or work for the entire holiday. Gulp. What else would there be to talk about?
I didn’t need to fret. For the first time in months, I allowed others to take charge and take care of me. Although the wind was strong and the sea choppy, my husband took control of the sails and winch.
As a sailing novice, it was wonderful (and yes, a bit sexy) to watch him learn the ins and outs of the boat. For my part, I kept my eyes peeled for friendly dolphins (who unfortunately remained hidden), but I spotted turtles so large and old in their graceful swim past the boat.
After sailing around several of the eleven islands that make up the northern part of the Whitsundays, we moored at the beautiful and untouched Cid Island. Rising majestically from the sea, a waterfall trickled gently in the background and the only sound was the slight gurgle as a nearby turtle raised his wizened head to glance quizzically at us.
Although it was too cool to snorkel, we still managed to see the hundreds of underwater wildlife through our glass-bottom port window. While we relaxed with a glass (or several) of sparkling, our captain Steve dropped anchor and prepared our evening meal. Can there be anything more romantic than eating out in the evening air, surrounded by natural beauty? If so, I’m yet to hear of it.
The following morning, rising after a good night’s sleep in the small but beautifully appointed private cabin, complete with power shower and a skylight over the bed to help you count the shooting stars, we headed for our next romantic destination, Long Island.
Here, at Peppers Palm Bay, 24 small cabins nestle on the palm-fringed shore. Each cabin is complete with a hammock to relax in if the walk to collapse onto your bed is too far. Although the rooms are lovely and tropical in design, the real winner is the view of the other Whitsunday islands. Make sure you get a glimpse of the steam rising from the rainforests on the other islands – it’s sure to send shivers down your spine.
The best part of Peppers? It’s a child-free resort, which means everybody is there with one thing on their mind: relaxation. After a poolside lunch of a yummy steak sandwich and chips, we lay back and…did nothing, other than to dip into the pool and grin delightedly at each other. We were on holiday!
After a couple of hours of hard work relaxing by the blue-tiled pool, we were treated to a half-hour massage each at Endota Spa – one of the firmest yet most blissful treatment either of us had ever experienced.
A quick snooze, then off to dinner. A romantic dinner out can sometimes be a little daunting – what shall we talk about, will there be uncomfortable silences? And does every other couple look more loved-up than us?
However, the relaxing ambience of the resort’s only restaurant helped take the edge off any conversational worries. Raving over our backstrap lamb dish and comparing it to the duck in five spices meant we sounded like Masterchef judges. But by relaxing in the moment, laughing over memories and talking about plans for the future, sharing our meals and drinking wonderful wine (as recommended by our waiter), we managed to out-sit three of the sittings and return to bed, happy, tired and very full!
The next day it was time for some couples activities. The weather was still not playing along, so a planned trip to Heart Island and snorkelling was cancelled. Not to be deterred, we kitted ourselves up into a double kayak and headed off around the island to explore.
Never having paddled together before, initially there was a clash of oars and some shouting of “no, your right paddle, no, MY right one!” But within minutes, we’d ironed out the differences in our strength and entered a calming zone of peace and quiet, punctuated only by nearby jumping fish and one of us pointing out some natural beauty to the other. For the first time in a long time we felt as though we were a team, working together for the same goal of enjoying ourselves and each other’s company.
After docking the kayak back on the shore and staggering, with shaking limbs, back to the pool bar, we began chatting to another couple who were visiting the island for the day.
“Are you on your honeymoon,” she asked. “No,” I replied. “Just a holiday.” “Well you certainly look happy and in love,” she smiled. And I smiled right back. The magic of the Whitsundays had certainly weaved its spell.