40min of bliss – diving at the Great Barrier Reef

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When I arrived in Cairns at 5.45am, I was quite tired and very happy when I realized that the Global Backpackers central hostel was right around the corner from the bus stop. Only, where was the entrance? It was a building with shops and I had to walk into the arcade. Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to go up yet but to my luck, somebody had to go to the airport then and therefore left the hostel. The night manager let me come upstairs and I chilled on the couch for a while. An hour later, they opened the pool and so I could go sleep there for another few hours. At 11am, they let me check in (instead of 1pm) and therefore I was very happy with this hostel so far. The rest of the day I spent walking around town. It looks quite touristy too. There is a good shopping mall and also a lagoon. The esplanade stretches for about 7km (I didn’t realize that and thought I would just go for a short stroll along the sea). There were nice parks, playgrounds and outdoor work out places. Even a small climbing boulder area. After I had been walking for about an hour I realized that I’d have to walk the whole way back, so I didn’t continue anymore although I was really close to the botanical gardens. Back at the hostel, I tried to take a nap but that wasn’t possible due to all the people talking and constantly coming in and out of the room. A lot of action for an 8 bed dorm. A group of young guys started playing a drinking game at 7 and so I was glad I signed up for the Peterpans night out at 8.15pm (sleep would have been impossible with them in the room).

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At Peterpans, they made us play a game where we could win a trip and afterwards, the employees suddenly started a really awesome flash mob dance. Then it was time to go to the Woolshed for a free cider and free pizza 🙂 Mhhh. Afterwards, I went back to the hostel, since I had to get up at 6am again the next day for my tour to the Great Barrier Reef.

When I got to our hallway in the hostel, it already smelled really bad of Goon (for the people who haven’t been to Australia yet, that’s cheap and gross wine that comes in a bag that fits into a cardboard container.) I strongly hoped it didn’t come from my room but when I opened the door, there was a huge mess on the floor and the goon smell was even worse. I’d smell like an alcoholic the next morning. Anyways, I tried my best to fall asleep and luckily was hardly awakened by other returning people.

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The next morning, I walked down to the reef fleet terminal and could board the Ocean Freedom right away. I had to fill out another diving form and then could help myself to coffee, a Danish and fruit from a huge and delicious fruit plate. I found a nice seat on the upper deck in the shade (throughout the day it changed several times from being a shade roof and protecting us from the rain. The weather around Cairns really is tropical.)

We drove for about 1,5 hours to a dive spot called Wonderwall. Already the first poor people were getting sick but luckily, I wasn’t affected by the waves and was ready to start the first dive when we got to the spot. There was only one other certified girl, so we had almost a private guide. We jumped off the boat into an incredible underwater world. I wished I could have stayed down there forever! The first thing I saw was a HUGE fish. At least 1m high and almost the same length as me. There were weird looking plants, some of them looked like feathers you could put on a hat. So many colorful fishes in colors and patterns I had never seen before. They looked like candy or ice cream. And fish in such an intense blue! Plus, I saw Nemo, his sisters and brothers and cousins and grandparents…There were so many fish! The best was, I finally got to see a turtle! And what a beauty. Moreover, we saw a second one later, that was still a baby.

Sorry, not completely in focus, the water was rather choppy.

Sorry, not completely in focus, the water was rather choppy.

So far, everywhere I went diving, everyone would warn us not to touch anything. First of all, because corals can be extremely sharp or poisonous and secondly, it probably damages the wildlife. So I had very mixed feelings when our diving instructor handed me a sea cucumber to touch (it feels very slimy) and pointed us to touch some other cucumbers or things. We even petted the turtle. I was so excited but I know I shouldn’t have done it. The guides should try to protect the reef and encourage the people to do the same. It’s such an amazing world down there! It’s so sad to know that in a few years it won’t look like that anymore. It was one of the best places I have ever dived at. Unfortunately, after 40min we were already back at the surface and made space for the introductory group dives. I jumped back into the water with my snorkel gear on. There were some schools of fish right behind the boat and a big (1,5m) barracuda with scary teeth, that would swim up really close to you because it thinks you will feed it. There were a lot of waves and so even snorkeling could make you feel a bit queasy. Back on the boat I knew I’d start feeling sick too if I wouldn’t get something to eat soon. Luckily, the skipper was of the same opinion and 5min later, a beeeeeautiful lunch buffet was set up. I want to work on that boat 🙂 Unfortunately, a lot of people felt too sick to really eat. I think I would have cried if it was me and I had to miss such a delicious meal.

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Then, we drove to a second spot. We all hopped on a glass bottom boat and had a short guided excursion. Then we hopped into the water again and snorkeled back to the boat with the slight current. It was amazing. We were somewhere miles away from the mainland but there was a sandbank in the ocean. You’d think that everywhere away from the land, the ocean would be really deep. Not here. So the deepest spots where the corals were was actually only about 4m deep. The water was really clear and so it was the perfect conditions and place to spot fish and corals. What a beautiful place! Here at the back of the boat, there was another barracuda and the big carnivorous fish we already saw on Samurai. When I first realized I was snorkeling right through them I screamed into my snorkel but then I realized that I wasn’t the first person getting out of the water and that they had probably already been there the whole time. The people who were done with snorkeling would also just jump in the water and swim at the back of the boat and the fish obviously could distinguish between toes, fingers and food.

Too soon, we started the way back. First, they were coming around with a fruit plate again. A little later, with a cheese board and crackers!! And just as I was thinking that something sweet would be nice, they carried around a tray with different cake slices. I was so happy I landed on this boat :)!!!

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It must have been a very expensive trip that I probably never would have booked if I knew its price but since it was all in my East Coast package (which was expensive too but it didn’t hurt as much to just pay it all at once) I attended some really awesome tours I really don’t want to have missed. Tours in Australia are really expensive but in the end, they are sooooo worth it because I met awesome people and I have amazing memories and impressions  that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

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2 thoughts on “40min of bliss – diving at the Great Barrier Reef

  1. I’m so glad you experienced all this wonderful places and tours.
    Food on the boats to the Barrier Reef is just gorgeous.

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