Solana Travel Writing, Spring 2021
“Officially,” started our tanned, bare-footed tour guide, “stinger season starts tomorrow.”
“Alright, well I don’t think the jelly-fish are operating off of an official calendar, so I’m wearing a wet suit,” said my mom, skeptically.
It was 2016 and my parents and I found ourselves on a pirate-ship-like sailboat surrounded by fellow travelers all itching to see the illustrious Whitehaven Beach in Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia. We had stepped on-board earlier that morning and had just arrived at the second, and by far most exciting, stop.
As we ferried from our boat to the small island on a rubber dingy, a sea turtle popped its brown spotted head out of the water for a fraction of a second, as if to say, “Wait ‘till you see it!” We unloaded on a rocky shore and began the short hike up and over to the beach.
The summit of the island is appropriately, although somewhat unnecessarily, marked as the “scenic overlook.” We stumbled over rocks and pushed through tropical leaves as we came to the clearing while simultaneously losing the ability to form words.
Before us, the most incandescent white sand swirled wondrously and blissfully with water so pure and blue, I don’t think the English language has been able to capture its shade in a word. The sand was so fine that every ripple sent it in a wild dance only for it to settle back to the bottom in a newly arranged design.
Standing at the top of that small piece of land, we were met with a sight we had been ogling for days in online photos. But, to see it in real life, to be standing there, speechless, as my brain tried to process so much natural beauty as fast as my eyes were trying to take it in was a feeling no travel brochure could capture.
We began our descent towards the beach, and as we walked, the sand was so fine it squeaked beneath our feet. Leaving our belongings in the shade, we waded out into the warm, clear water, still at a loss of words.
Lemon sharks and stingrays darted in the shallow water, and as I snapped photos, amateurly trying to capture the beauty, I was also trying to sort through the thoughts in my head. The one thing I was sure of was the accuracy of the name of the beach. Whitehaven Beach — a literal haven of white and blue nested in a sprinkle of Oceanic islands.
But, there was more. At first, I felt almost unworthy. If Earth could create a place this intensely magical, so beautifully breathtaking, and chaotically peaceful just to place it here so casually, then what was it doing creating me? In comparison to this beach — this oasis — I felt tiny, irrelevant, trivial.
As a Colorado native, I like to think I know how to handle myself when confronted with nature’s grandeur. The Rocky Mountains are literally my backyard, and I’m used to seeing them glow purple in the morning sun or sit peacefully snow-capped on a winter afternoon. And, that’s just it. I’d become too used to the magic. This was my nature wake-up call. This was Earth saying, “Fine, get used to my towering mountains and glittering snow. That’s not all I’ve got!”
After my moment of inner reckoning followed a moment of warmth and satisfying comfort as I realized, yes, the same Earth that created this place also created me. It’s a combo deal. Why would mother nature go through the trouble if there was no one to share in the beauty?
This newfound appreciation of nature, and therefore life, stuck with me and now acts as a life lens. There is so much beauty in this world, whether nestled between islands, atop a mountain, in a child’s eyes, or within ourselves, and we are doing a disservice by expecting it.
We need to actively seek this beauty, and fully appreciate it when we find it. Sometimes it’s right in front of you, and sometimes you find it half a world away on a pirate ship guided tour. Regardless of where it is, notice it. Appreciate it. Share it responsibly. Every time.
My name is Aimee Lonneman, aspiring travel writer, long-time coffee lover, and avid sports fan. As the daughter of an airline pilot, travel is in my blood and has always been a part of my life. I deeply believe that this world is meant to be explored and that our cultural differences are meant to be celebrated. My dream job would be to travel the world and capture that brilliance in well-researched, articulate, culturally conscious articles. However, while I build up the financial means to make that dream come true, and while the world recovers, I spend my time working as an SEO content strategist for a Denver-based marketing company, as well as a freelance writer.