I completed my open water scuba diving requirements 17 years ago on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Since then I had completed 13 dives. (Puts me way behind the curve from most divers.)
As a Minnesotan, diving is an expensive hobby because it requires me to travel somewhere else to dive. I dove once in Lake Huron, for practice. It was cold.
I have spent way more time visiting Europe than going places where I could dive, but I did put the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) on my bucket list once I realized how much I love to dive.
But…realistically, I didn’t actually believe, at the time, that I would ever scuba dive the GBR.
I just returned from a fantastic trip to Australia, and it started in Cairns.
Cairns is a small town where many people go to access the GBR. I know an Australian woman who described it as an airport location more than a town. I didn’t spend much time in Cairns, but there is more there than an airport.
GBR is far enough from shore that most people do a day trip via a boat/ferry. I knew I wanted to spend a couple of days diving, and didn’t want to spend a couple of hours every day in a boat going back and forth from Cairns, so I opted to stay on a “live aboard.” It is like a very small cruise ship, that doesn’t cruise very far; but it does move at least once per day to other dive sites.
I was very happy with Reef Encounter’s live aboard. I purchased a 3-night package that included diving, meals and a remarkably spacious cabin. My cabin on the reef wasn’t much smaller than some cruise ship cabins.
I completed 9 dives in 2 1/2 days. (Remember, before this I had completed 13 dives in 17 years.) It was a dream come true!
I also opted to purchase a guide for my first dive. It seemed like a great idea, and was, since I had never been to GBR before. My dive guide is named Ian, and is from Florida. He was great. I would have adopted him as a son, if I could, and he did go on every dive with me.
I was especially happy to have Ian with me on my first night dive.
I had never done a night dive before, because as much as I love to dive, I am a bit claustrophobic. It only bothers me when I am in small spaces, like underwater caves, or narrow reef areas. I just assumed it would bother me at night also, but I was fine.
Two major benefits of having a dive guide:
- He is really good at finding fish, etc
- He knows where to go, and I don’t need to keep track of where the boat is
We saw lots of beautiful fish, a turtle. Here are some pictures. I swam with sharks!!
We also saw evidence of coral bleaching. I don’t want to make this a political piece, but the behavior of humans is damaging our planet, especially this beautiful reef. Please do what you can to protect our natural resources.