Yesterday morning, I walked into Peter Pan’s travel agency and booked my trip through Sydney. Originally, I wanted to scuba dive at the Whitsundays, however, due to a recent cyclone, the visibility is currently very poor and diving is not permitted at this time. Luckily, my travel agent, Kim, had just visited the island this past weekend on the Atlantic Clipper so she knew all of this information firsthand. Since I was not able to book a dive, she suggested that I stay an extra night in Cairns and dive the Great Barrier Reef from here instead… and I’m so glad that I did!
This morning I woke up at 7am and walked to the pier to get ready for my Ocean Freedom Cruise. The boat had three stories and took us out to Upolu Reef where we were going to dive. Our first dive site was the Wonder Wall. I was a little nervous about getting back into the water, but nowhere near as bad as my certification dives back in Koh Tao. Our group was small, only eight certified divers, split into two groups each led by a divemaster. We went over a short safety briefing and then began to plan our dive.
After about 3 meters down, my GoPro stopped working. During the dive, I saw multiple clownfish and even a white-tip reef shark! The shark was not scary and didn’t even seem to care about us a bit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture a majority of the dive on camera, but my GoPro did start working again when we resurfaced.
When we got back to the boat, I decided to go on a glass-bottom boat tour that was included in the cruise package. Again, I had an awesome experience on the reef! Our skipper taught us about the different corals that live on the reef and shared a few facts about the Great Barrier Reef. The highlight of the boat ride was when I spotted a green sea turtle! It was huge and just sitting in the middle of the reef, fully exposed. It was just an instant, as the boat does not have brakes to stop, but it was extraordinary.
We returned to the boat and I sat up on the top deck for a little bit to admire the view. I met so many people on the cruise. Travelers, people on holiday, people traveling with their families, foreigners living in Australia. You name it, they were on the boat. Even the crew was diverse and full of so many fun and friendly faces! We were served a feast for lunch, including salads, sides, lunch meat, shrimp and smoked salmon. It was amazing. Total cruise-status.
After lunch, we went to our second stop, a tiny little island, mostly submerged underwater where we did some more snorkeling. I saw another Nemo family poking out of their anemone, just like the movie! This time I saw a stingray swimming along the sand! Today was honestly such a great day for ocean life! The Great Barrier Reef is home to so many species of animals, it was such a delight to see so many off my bucket list all in one trip.