The Great Barrier Reef
Today was the day with the big D, we were finally going to visit the largest living organism on earth. Not only were we going to snorkel the beautiful and world known Barrier Reef, we were also going to dive, which was something that we had never done before and we were so excited. We went with the boat Ocean Freedom because we had heard such great reviews of them, and they were known for their introduction dives. Please come with me on our day at sea.
7 am and it was already boiling hot outside. I could feel the sun against my skin as it slowly made its way up the sky, and its reflection created a beautiful path of glitter on the calm surface of the water. We had just been dropped off at the reef terminals of Cairns by the shuttle bus that he hostel had provided, and it was with great expectations that we checked ourselves in on the boat Ocean Freedom. It was a big and splendid catamaran that was beautifully painted in white and blue and had three floors. When we entered the boat the crew members greeted us and handed us a form to fill out as they were preparing our breakfast consistent of biscuits and loads of tropical fruits, just what you need to load up for a full day on the sea. When we had finished our breakfast and the boat started the one hour trip to the reef, it was time to gather all of the divers in the cabin for a safety briefing. We learned about the signs, techniques and rules when under water and around the reef, which is very important as you will learn how to act not to hurt yourself, the animals or the corals of the reef. To make us stay alert the briefing was ended with a quick quiz. We got divided into groups of four, so N and I were in group three along with another couple who were in their mid fifties, and while we were waiting for our turn to dive we got to go on a smaller boat with a glass bottom. This was also an alternative for the people on board who did not want to snorkel as they took us out to the reef and since the water is so clear you can see the wonderful reef and some fishes. Of course you don’t see as much or as clearly as you would snorkelling, but it’s an option not all of the tour boats offer and it’s very good if you’re travelling with kids or older people who might not be very strong swimmers.
When we got back to the boat it was our turn to put the diving gear on. I have snorkelled a lot in my days, in many different countries, I have never feared the water and I definitely consider myself a very strong swimmer, but I must admit that I was getting very nervous by now. At first we had to find a pair of fins that would fit us, then they put the weights on us so we wouldn’t float and after that we got the gas tubes and mask on before we jumped in the water. We went down for about two meters under the surface and stopped there to make a few tests, for example we had to take the mouthpiece out to hold our breaths and put it back in to breathe again. There was one diving instructor for two people, so N and I had our own instructor and he was absolutely outstanding!
The instructor grabbed us by our hands and together we started to make our way down to the reef, and it was absolutely breathtaking, it’s a whole new world down there! It is amazing that all of this is one big living organism, the beautiful forms of the corals together with the colourful fishes surrounding you was unbelievable, I have never seen anything like it. A big turtle swam by us as we dove deeper and we saw clown fish that lived in a coral that looked just like the one in the movie ‘Finding Nemo’. It was so cool the see all of this right before your eyes, it was unreal. We even got to feel some of the corals and it was the softest thing I have ever felt. The whole experience was wonderful. The introduction dive only took 20 minutes and we went to a depth of 12 meters, but it was just enough and when we were finished it was almost time for lunch, they served us delicious cold cuts with buns and potato salad.
Our next stop was by an island that actually was a part of the Great Barrier Reef and only rose above the surface for a couple of hours per day, it was magical! We got the choices of bathing from the boat, sun bathing on the island, or snorkelling around the island. We chose to go on the guided snorkelling tour, it was led by one of the amazing crew members and he would not get out of the water until he had made sure that we had seen everything he wanted to show us. Once again we saw turtles and clown fish along with many other colourful fishes, but this time we even got to see three reef sharks!
On our way back to shore the crew spoiled us with tons of tropical fruit, cookies, biscuits, cheese and crackers. Well needed after a very long day in the sun filled with fun and exciting things. Like I mentioned earlier our expectations were very high from the beginning but this was way better than we could have ever imagined, we were so incredibly satisfied and happy with this trip. The crew was absolutely amazing, they went out of their way to make you feel safe and comfortable. I would definitely recommend this tour and this boat since it has something to offer everyone, and you simply can’t go to Australia without going to the Great Barrier Reef.