The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, so you can only imagine my excitement to go diving there. I’d never dived before, only snorkeled, so I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Excitement completely outweighed any feelings of apprehension as we boarded the boat, seeing all the equipment lined up ready for us.
Sadly, I wasn’t lucky enough to avoid an hour of miserable sea sickness, so I was relieved when we finally made it to the reef. The part of the reef was called Flynn reef, located about 6km from the continental shelf.
Sea sickness over, we were told the best way to cure it was to just get straight in to the water. There was no way I needed telling twice, I just wanted to get off the boat at that point!
Donning an all in one skin tight stinger suit to prevent us from being stung by any jellyfish, and yes before you ask, it is highly attractive, we got kitted out with weights around our middle and that all important oxygen tank. The crew were so great. They went through the safety features numerous times and then made sure we got the hang of using the equipment ourselves before diving down under.
The company I went with was called Silverswift, part of Quicksilver, but at the terminal by the marina in Cairns, there are loads of great reputable companies to go with- basically, just make sure you do it! Seriously, it’s like nothing you’ll have ever done before. If you want quick and easy access to the marina, Cairns Central YHA is the ideal choice.
The team were really great, once we’d stepped in to the water- literally; you just do a massive step off the boat- we went through all the safety measures again but this time practising them underwater.
I’d been worried about using the mouthpiece to breathe but it was actually a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t difficult to get the hang of at all, nor did it make me feel panicked. In fact, it was actually quite calming because that’s the only thing you can hear down there.
The reef is absolutely incredible- seriously, the pictures on Google images do not do it justice in the slightest! It’s not until you actually see it that you realise just how outstanding it really is. There’s even an underwater photographer to capture those moments when the fish swim by to say hello. You’d be surprised just how frequently these occur as well. We even got to touch some of them!
You can’t touch the coral for obvious reasons but I think even if they said ‘go ahead, touch it’, I’d still be too in awe to do so. You see everything up close and personal though, even little lost Nemo out in the big blue!
I can truly say that it is without a doubt the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. What’s more, if you’re here a little while longer, you can get your PADI open water certification in just 5 short days, which I know is quite a popular thing to do out here if you’re a backpacker. After completing an introductory dive you get a certificate to acknowledge you’ve done it, and I’m not going to lie, it was a very proud moment for me.
If you’re like me and love your food, then you’ll love the lunches they provide. Diving and snorkelling works up an appetite but the boat provided us with an all you can eat hot and cold buffet and then snacks for when we were heading back to the marina as well.
Looking out at the ocean it’s insane to think that these stunning scenes of coral and coloured fish are below it. It is an entirely different world, one which I will definitely be hoping to explore again one day soon!