Travel Journal (9/20/2019): Snorkeling and Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Today was our first full day in Cairns and we spent the day exploring the most popular attraction in the area, if not all of Australia. No one should visit Cairns without exploring the Great Barrier Reef, and that is exactly what we did today.

We booked our tour with a company called Ocean Freedom thru Viator because their tour had really good reviews, and they did not disappoint. The level of detail they put into their excursions, from the cleanliness of the boat, to the quality of the equipment, to the food provided on the tour were all very impressive.

Perhaps even more important was the level of attention they paid to each of us passengers. For the customers who weren’t comfortable snorkeling in the open ocean on their own, an instructor used a life ring and towed them around. The water can be quite choppy in the reef, so quite a few people took them up on this offer.

For those of us who scuba dived, we all agreed that the experience was amazing and we will never forget it. I signed up for two introductory dives and I was left speechless about how beautiful the reef is.

When you snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, you get to see some amazing fish and wildlife. We saw a turtle and a giant barracuda right by our boat. We also saw a lot of colorful fish, including Nemo (the Clown Fish). However, the coral that you typically see when snorkeling is very muted and colorless because of the harmful bleaching by the sun that we hear do much about. It’s very sad.

On the other hand, when I scuba dived we reached depths of roughly 6 meters (or roughly 20 feet) and the coral was much more colorful and alive. I saw a lot bigger variety of fish when I dove and I even saw an octopus.

That’s it for today’s update. Tomorrow we are taking a series of gondolas and trains up into the jungle to see some pretty waterfalls, small villages, and hopefully hold a koala bear.

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  1. Amazing! I love colourful corals, it must have been quite an experience! I am amazed that you saw an octopus, as well! This is my dream.

  2. I’m reluctant to tell the husband about this because he’ll be quite jealous. Are you required to be a certified diver to do the dive? The husband is but I’m not, though I have done a dive before.

    • Nope. You can take certified dives, but these were just introductory. Meaning, an instructor was with me when I dove. I do plan on getting certified and this trip cemented my desire to do so. Scuba diving is such an unreal and amazing experience!! 😀

      • When I did my dive in Jamaica I had to do a whole morning of prep – proving I could swim, transfer a mask under water, open my eyes under water (that was the worst), etc. Anything like that required before your Barrier Reef dive? (This is my last question… I promise. I don’t want to bug you while you’re on vacation. It’s 4am in the Midwest, just in case you’re wondering, by the way. 🙂 )

      • No prob with the questions. I love answering them 😀

        Yes, we had to sit thru a 30-minute class on the boat on the way out to the reef. Then, we had to perform three tasks in the water at the reef. Inflate our dive vest, clear our mask of water, and clear our regulator (in case your regulator comes out underwater and you need to put it back on).

      • 😀👍

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