. which is quite a bit more expensive. So we were in a bit of a dilemma; either go on a cheaper trip and have a go at scuba diving but the reef might not be so good, or pay a bit extra to go to the really amazing reef. Well in the end we decided to go for the more expensive trip to the outer edges of the reef; we figured that this might be our only chance to ever do this and considering that we have been looking forward to the Great Barrier Reef for such a long time, we wanted to do it justice and experience it to the fullest. We also decided to hire an underwater camera for the day so that we could get some good photos and share how beautiful it is with everyone at home.
Our boat was called Silver Swift and was very fast at getting us out to the reef. Within about an hour, and after a very nice breakfast onboard, we had arrived at our first snorkel site. On the boat was a mixture of people doing scuba diving and snorkeling; the scuba divers got kitted out in their gear first and jumped into the water for a while to get comfortable before the snorkelers got in the water too. While the divers were getting into the water all the snorkelers had a safety briefing and a little snorkel lesson, then we were taken up onto the deck and shown around the site we would be snorkeling. The guy doing our briefing was really funny and taught us about the fish and coral in the water; the most interesting thing we learnt was about the clown fish, i.e
. the fish in Finding Nemo. He told us that in real life, if the mother clown fish died and the father and son were left alone, then the father fish would change sex into a female and the son would mature into the father, then they would have babies together! We can't imagine why Disney didn't make the film about that story instead, but I guess that films about incestuous transsexual clown fish aren't that appropriate for kids. After our briefing we went down to the back of the boat where they had a huge open air deck where there was a changing area and all the scuba and snorkeling equipment. We got changed into our stinger suits (which were really fancy ones, with no holes in them this time and they even had hoods!) then we headed to the very back of the boat where there was a hydraulic platform which they lowered into the water so you could slip into the water without having to jump in.
The next 5 hours were quite simply amazing! During the day we went to three different snorkel sites and they were all absolutely incredible. I'm not going to describe it too much because I think that the photos show you just how beautiful it was better than I could ever describe it. The reef was definitely more spectacular here at Cairns than it was at the Whitsundays and we just had the time of our lives! We saw a huge white tipped reef shark, giant sea clams that looked like the size of a small car, long fat sea cucumbers, clown fish, parrot fish...
. the list just goes on and on. We really hope you like the photos (we've uploaded as many as possible for you all to see) and that they give you a taster of how brilliant it is on the reef. By the end of the day we were completely exhausted and our legs were shaking from swimming for over 4 hours. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is simply one of the most amazing things I have ever done in my whole life and I am still really emotional and overwhelmed that I got the chance to do it. Of everything we have done so far on this trip, and we've done a hell of a lot in the last 4 months since we left home, snorkeling the reef is probably one of my favourites (if not my favourite thing full stop). It definitely lived up to expectation and I will always remember how beautiful and wonderful it was.
So today we are finally getting to go out and visit the Great Barrier Reef properly. We got an amazing glimpse of it when we snorkeled during our Whitsundays sailing trip, however everyone keeps on telling us that the reef in Cairns is just so much better. There are literally hundreds of tour companies which offer snorkeling trips to the reef and it took us a long time to decided which one we wanted to go with. There were some which offered a free 5 minute scuba diving taster which we considered doing and others that can organise you a proper introductory scuba dive which lasts about half an hour. However these boats tend to go to the reef which is quite close to the shore and can get quite busy. Because these reefs have a lot of people visiting them they have got a bit damaged and some of the coral has been bleached white because of human contact and pollution. So in order to see the really pristine and unspoilt reef you have to sail further out into the ocean to the outer edges of the reef..