Snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef
You HAVE to visit the Great Barrier Reef. This sentiment resonated from everyone whom I informed I was going to Cairns. But I wasn’t truly convinced.
There wasn’t anything particular about the Great Barrier Reef that attracted me, at least, not in the same manner it does others. But I went against my inner voice saying to skip it, signed up for a snorkelling day-trip, and set off into the great abyss that is the Pacific.
Turns out, everybody was right; The Great Barrier Reef is spectacular.
Why wouldn’t I want to go you may be asking yourself? Well, it has more to do with the Ocean than it does with the Reef. I don’t relish the concept of being a great distance from land on a tiny vessel that bobs with the currents. Something about feeling so minuscule and without control sets my nerves on end. And, I don’t scuba dive, and isn’t that precisely the reason people rave about the Great Barrier Reef; To Scuba dive? I have no fear of water, albeit a dislike of salt water, but being submerged in water knowing I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to reach the air above frightens me. Loss of control seems to be my central concern linking all these feelings.
The nagging notion of missing the occasion to experience one of our world’s greatest natural world wonders was too taunting to forfeit the opportunity. I set aside my control issues and my daily budget, and found a tourist agency selling day-trips. I say a brochure for a $79 day-trip and requested that. The man inquired about my selection, and when I indicated price, he quickly suggested an alternative trip. My initial selection only went to the Inner Reef, and he knew that I would want to see the Outer Reef. I hadn’t done any research so I would never have known the errors of my way. I’m glad he was helpful, because at an increase of only AUS $20, I was booked a snorkelling day-trip with Deep Sea Divers Dens to the Outer Reef, lunch included.
With my bathing suit on and my backpack packed, I was ready for a day on the ocean. En route to the harbour a store sign advertised underwater camera rentals. Perfect, I thought. I’d be sad knowing I would have no means of recording my snorkelling adventure once I was in the water. This gave me access and a new dimension to snorkelling fun. At $49 for the day and a 8GB SD card to keep afterwards, it is a great bargain. Camera in hand I walked along the dock and stepped onto my white floating vessel for the day. It better stay afloat my mind stated pointedly.
The journey began with 2 hours of high speed racing across the open waters. Turns out this Outer Reef is quite far out. Go figure eh? I read in a shady corner of the top deck and read to keep my mind occupied. It was possibly the most enjoyable reading segment I’ve had, hot day with cool salty breezes pushing my hair back out of my face. I was content to read. But I knew we’d arrive soon.
I won’t lie – I was expecting more when Put your Flippers on We’ve arrived blurted out over the intercom. Our surroundings were deep shades of blues, only slightly spotted. The waves made the distinction of coral underneath difficult to see, and my first introduction to the Great Barrier Reef was less than thrilling. But I followed Captain’s orders and slid my feet into the flippers. I wore a blue stinger suit to prevent sting ray zaps, pulled my hair back, mask and snorkel firmly suctioned in place, I sat on the back edge of the boat with my flippers barely grazing the waves beneath, and pitched forward into the disenchanting blues of the Great Barrier Reef.
When the bubbles surrounding my splash into the Pacific cleared my eyes bulged with delight at the underwater world in front of me. Vibrant pinks, greens, and yellows filled my sight. The coral curved and was lost into the depths. The fish darted in and around the unwavering ebb and flow of the plants. My hands burst in front of my face to capture everything on my underwater camera. It was a constant game of hide-and-seek to capture the fish before they scurried away.
I squeaked and peeped at the surroundings and scooted around gleefully, gratified by the buoyancy of salt water. I had to contain my vocal excitement it frightened the sea life away from me. I just wanted to cuddle all my new rainbow stripped friends. I froze my movements and let the current take me with it. Reducing my movements eased the fish that slowly swam freely around me. It also made picture taking easier.
I spent 5 hours floating thrilling in the Great Barrier Reef. What started as a disappointing day turned into one of the largest rainbow feasts my eyes have ever devoured. I couldn’t contain my excitement and determination to see it all. I was so entranced by my surroundings the crew had to call me back to the boat as I had gone too far a distance from the boat. Any control related fears I started the day with dissipated at the vitality of the Great Barrier Reef’s underwater world.