This was my last big adventure in Australia, because honestly, you can't visit Cairns and not go see the Great Barrier Reef.
Friday, I got up early again and took the 7:15 reef shuttle from my hostel to the Reef Fleet Terminal on the south side of Cairns past the Esplanade. I was ready for a day trip of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef that I booked with Passions of Paradise. I was really impressed with this company/crew and would totally recommend them. Our group got to exclusively dive and snorkel around Paradise reef as well as Michaelmas Cay.
They take sustainability seriously and even did a little educational presentation on the return trip about their commitment to it and the reef. For just one dollar, you could offset your carbon emissions for the day (I donated $2) and a percentage of sales from the bar is donated to anti-shark finning campaigns and shark research. Lunch was pretty good as there was plenty for veggos and all the plates and flatware got washed and reused. The catamaran itself, is Eco-certified, and they put up the sail on the way back, which they said saved over 400 liters of fuel. The crew was super fun and friendly.
I met a pair of Aussie sisters from the south who I sat with while aboard the boat. We sat up front during the outbound trip, and got sprayed with seawater on several occasions. The whole day I had goosebumps and I had to wear two wetsuits when snorkeling because I was so cold. (It is technically Winter here.)
I’ve been trying to think of words to describe the GBR, but its so incredibly awesome and colorful and beautiful that I can’t find words worthy enough of its natural beauty. Even my pictures and video don’t do it justice, because the spectrum gets a little distorted underwater, and while you can still see the red wavelengths, cameras have a hard time picking it up. I felt like I was the little mermaid swimming amongst all her sea friends. I saw heaps of coral in all shapes, colors and sizes and a rainbow of fishes. I even got to see a couple sea turtles and a sting ray. Everyone should put the GBR on their bucket lists and try to see it before its destroyed by starfish or farming or dredging. (I have tons more photos and videos that I will edit later but I wanted to get a few photos up right away.)
The only downside was that I had my hair braided and to the side to keep it out of my way. I was expecting to have lovely, mermaid waves in my hair when I removed the elastics, but it was more of a tangled rats nest which took me ages to brush it out properly. RIP and a moment of silence for all the good strands I lost that day.