Cairns, Australia – Great Barrier Reef

[ 0 ] June 9, 2012 |

The Great Barrier Reef.  It’s in the same category as the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Everest – one of the seven wonders of the natural world.  The largest structure on earth made by living organisms.  You can even see it from space.  It’s not everyday that you get to experience first hand something of this magnitude.  The Great Barrier Reef is a pretty big deal and scuba diving this monster was one of the top 10 things we really wanted to do on this multi-year sabbatical of ours.

To scuba the reef you basically have three main ports of call, the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns or Port Douglas.  Cairns is the mecca stop when it comes to diving and is home to by far the most dive shops operating day trips out to the reef.  Since we were driving up from Brisbane, we thought we would try our luck at the first spot en route North, the Whitsunday Islands.  The Whitsundays are known for their amazing white sand “squeaky” beaches (the sand particles are so small and perfectly spherical that they make a squeaking noise as you walk on them).  However, the weather was not on our side this time.  After two days of hanging around Airlie Beach waiting for the wind and rain to clear up enough to hop aboard a sailboat out to the islands, we decided to simply keep on moving North toward Cairns.

The drive from the Airlie to Cairns is around 600kms, which we spread over two 4 to 5 hour days of solid driving.  Arriving in Cairns, I was a bit underwhelmed.  I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t what we found when we arrived.  With a population just over 150,000 people, it’s more of a sea weathered big beach town really.  Maybe I had my hopes up a touch too much and was expecting Jacques Cousteau to jump out from behind a bush at any moment.  But that of course didn’t happen.  I’m guess what I’m saying is that Cairns is nothing special – the real action is of course not on dry land.

Without delay, shortly after we arrived we booked a scuba trip for the next morning. The scuba operator picked us up the next morning bright an early and transported us to the pier.  We boarded the boat with a couple dozen other people and set sail for the reef.  It was hardly any time at all before we were in the water on our first dive, playing with slimy sea cucumbers, gawking at the color palette as school after school of fish passed us by.  Nothing can describe the sensation of being in an entirely different world and there is no better place on earth to experience that other worldliness than at the Great Barrier Reef.

Scuba Al

The Fantastic Colors of the Great Barrier Reef

Colorful Fish

Sea Mushroom

Sea Cucumber

Cool Sea Creatures

Pat and Al inside the Deep Blue

More Sea Cucumber Madness

Sea Clam Saying Hello

More Color Under the Sea

Scuba Al

Underwater Magic

 

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Category: Australia, Blog, Destinations, Featured Posts, Pat's Blog

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