Because when you live a short flight away from the world’s largest coral reef you can’t visit just once.
When my mother and sister in law were in town last month we decided to take them to see the reef for themselves. Our first trip was last September and we stayed at southern part of the reef in the Whitsundays. We took a large boat out the Great Barrier Reef for a day trip and docked on a barge called Reef World and spent the day there. Travis thought it was cheesy but I liked it. You can read more about that here.
SO this time we decided to head out from the city (town?) of Cairns and take a smaller dive boat to the reef since 3/4 of us were going to be diving most of the time. I am not allowed to dive due to previously explained ear problems.
The weather was not on our side from the moment we landed in Cairns and that morning it was rainy and cloudy as we pulled out from the dock. They started passing out sea sickness pills almost immediately which is never a good sign. The waves were pretty intense (our cups were literally sliding off the table) and I was pretty relieved I decided to take the tablet after all. After an hour or so of rocking through the choppy seas, the boat stopped and they told the divers to start getting ready because we were at the reef.
I let out a sigh of relief that I wasn’t about to hop in that scary water when they called for all the snorkelers (there weren’t too many of us) to assemble and start getting ready. Snorkeling in choppy water is a serious workout and luckily the coral (and a giant turtle friend I made) helped distract me from the waves tossing me about.
Unfortunately being the lowly snorkeler I did not have GoPro privaledges and could not document any of the cool fish or coral I saw, including one that looks like it has a bow on its tail. So you will have to just enjoy their dive pics which were mostly selfies of Travis (don’t worry I weeded through them for your sake). The clouds during the first couple dives apparently made it difficult to get very good visibility down at their level.
After the first couple of dives, they moved the boat to a new spot and the sun came out from the clouds. The third dive they said was much better with the sunlight shining through. I did not, however, opt for a third snorkel as I had exerted more than enough energy fighting the waves the first two times.
After doing both the large boat/barge day trip and the medium sized dive boat option we were able to compare the pros and cons of both. As a diver I could see the benefit on being on a purely diving vessel because they got more dives in than they would have on a more crowded ship. As a non-diver I preferred the options to do other things besides just snorkel, such as lay out or visit the underwater deck (all of which are available on Reef World). Also, the kid in me liked pulling up to Reef World and feeling the excitement of being somewhere so famous, it may be cheesy but it worked on me.
Now we just have to work on trying out a third option- staying on a live aboard sail boat off the coast of picturesque Whitehaven Beach.
I have a feeling that might become the front runner if we ever actually do it. 🙂