Sunday, August 11, 2013

#84: Great Barrier Reef!

Our trip to Far North Queensland wouldn’t have been complete without the opportunity to cross off one of my 103 Things (  And with it, I finally completed all eight of my 103 Things located in Australia – in just under 3.5 years.  There are many options when it comes to visiting the Great Barrier Reef:  flyovers, glass bottom boats, snorkelling, and diving.  I opted for the snorkelling – must easier than diving and way closer to the action than a flyover or a glass bottom boat.

Many a company offer day trips out of Cairns and Port Douglas to the reef and it took a bit of research to select one.  There are bigger boats at lower cost, or more expensive smaller boats which provide a more personal, small group experience.  The bigger tour companies have floating platforms out near the reef where you can sun yourself between swims, but the smaller companies provide more commentary and information.  We opted for the more personal experience and chose Calypso Snorkelling.  There were probably only 30 or so of us on the boat – not a big crowd for that type of tour.  We also had to select the Low Isles or the outer reef.  The Low Isles are much closer to the mainland and combine snorkelling with stunning beaches on relaxing little islands.  The outer reef is about twice as far out and is 100% reef – no islands, just snorkelling – and usually a better place to see wildlife.  As I was here to see the reef, I chose to sign us up for the outer reef.  And off we went!

The seas were choppy on the 90-minute ride to Opal Reef, site of the first and second of our three swims.  But once we got in the water and took in the views, the rough ride was totally worth it.

The variety of colours was gorgeous.

And the colours weren’t just on the coral either.  There were plenty of fish in the sea, literally, and they came in every colour of the rainbow and then some.

I saw 1 fish!

2 fish!

Red fish!

Blue fish!

I’m a nerd.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any turtles, sharks, dugongs (a cousin of the manatee), or any other crazy species, but I feel like another trip out to the reef will be in my future, so I wasn’t too disappointed.  Instead, I put my feet up and enjoyed the ride back to shore.

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