Cruisin' the Great Barrier Reef
Trip Start Mar 06, 2010
17Trip End Apr 25, 2010
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Where I stayed
We had originally planned to stay in Cairns, as that on the surface is where you are supposed to go to see the reef. Upon speaking to locals and checking out some websites, we decided to go a bit farther North to Port Douglas to see the reef as well as the only place in the world that two natural wonders meet - Cape Tribulation.
So, we rented a car and drove the hour up to Port Douglas. Even with the rain, it was a great drive with some great scenery. The further we got from Cairns, the more exotic and gorgeous the terrain looked. My travel companion and partner in crime, Naseem, compared it to parts of Hawaii because of the lush and deep green forests
My friends from Sydney had just recently been up this way and had taken a tour with a company called Calypso. They loved it because it was a smaller boat, so there was less people, and they went to three dive sites throughout the day, rather than two. I didn't know how key this actually was until we actually took the tour ourselves. First, you weren't getting smacked in the face by a bunch of flippers or fighting to get a look at the reef. In general we saw only our snorkel buddies and the fish. Second, since there was only one photographer, we got more pictures! And these were great pictures and it was also great value. $60 AUD for the complete disc of pictures - cheap compared to most tour companies. Third, when they do the reef tours, you wouldn't possibly hear or keep up with a large group. Not sure they provide you with a guide in the larger boats, but if they do it may not be worth it in throngs of people.
The day we took the trip was the day after some bizarre rainfall, which apparently scared some people off as there were only 14 people on the boat! Score! The boat ride to Opal reef was about an hour and it is DEFINITELY necessary to take seasickness tablets if you have ever had any inclination towards nausea. It is also extremely necessary to take sunscreen and reapply, reapply, reapply. If you hail from overseas, make sure to bring your higher SPF as Australia only has 30 SPF max. Jury is still out on why, even though I've been given several theories.
We saw loads of fish (including two reef sharks!) and amazing coral formations. There are no words for how amazing this place is. I know it sounds corny to say so, but it really is breath taking and I am so glad we took the time to come up and it was such a perfect day thanks to the guys at Calypso.