There is not a lot to do in Cairns besides chilling out near the lagoon and finding places to eat sushi. I came here to see the Great Barrier Reef and have it live up to the name, as it was the Alright Barrier Reef at the Whitsundays. I booked up a trip on the boat Silverswift and whilst expensive at AU $200+, it’s completely worth it.
As I’m not a decent swimmer, I did think about getting a see-through bottom (probably has a proper name) boat tour as I’d be more comfortable, but like most other things within reason it’s more worthwhile to push the boat out and do the more daunting things.
With an early start, I made my way to the pier and caffeinated myself up on board. It took just over an hour and a half to reach the reef then once suited up, this time with a buoyancy jacket, we were let loose into the sea. I don’t have pictures, but what I saw was amazing; the fish were were so brightly coloured and was incredible to swim/float over the coral, watching the fish. One thing that I have to say is that if your internal sarcastic monologue, like mine, is hilarious, don’t laugh because it loosens the seal on the goggles. I also saw some fish that looked like someone I used to work with, as well as someone from school so I had to sort the goggles out a few times.
The second snorkel was the best; there were so many more fish and I was more trusting of the buoyancy vest. I saw a few fish that I recognised from Finding Nemo, though no clown fish, but a similar anemone fish which is close enough. I also saw a jellyfish and some patterned like a giraffe, there were also a lot more fish in the coral, but no turtles this time which I was eager to see.
There was a snorkel tour done by one of the guides on the third and final swim, and there were too many people. I opted to hang at the back then go my own way which paid off – there was a turtle that the group missed so I stayed to watch it for a few minutes, and went behind it as it swam up to get some air. I didn’t expect to get so close to the turtles because of the vest, so this was awesome. The fish were impressive during this snorkel, though not as much as the other two. One of the most noteable things I saw was a ray digging around in the sand.
Once the third swim had finished, we returned to Cairns. This was by far one of the best experiences I’ve had in the past year of travelling, the highlight being getting so close to the turtle. I’m going to have a Google of snorkel spots in Australia, get an attachment for my gopro and snorkel again during my second year in this country. I may not be the biggest fan of Australia, but this is one of the things that has made coming over here worth it.