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Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

 

It’s one of those ‘bucket list’ worthy adventures: snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.

On a trip around the world, Australia was the first stop.  After exploring Sydney and Bondi Beach, we hopped on a plane up to Cairns for a little adventure.  Since it was our first visit to the reef, we decided to book a trip with SeaStar Cruises.  

The morning of the trip, we walked down to the docks and found the crew waiting.  After getting checked in, we were each fitted with a wetsuit and snorkel gear.  I could pretend like I casually slipped on my wetsuit, but let me tell you: it was like trying to squeeze into wet Spanx.  Wetsuits on, we rode out to the Michaelmas Cay, a shallow part of the reef with a sandy island.  The water was a gorgeous blue, and the sand was sparkling, and thousands (not exaggerating here) of birds crowded the island.  If your nightmares look like the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds”, this place probably isn’t going to be your favorite stop.  Still, we hopped in a small raft, rode to shore, and awkwardly walked around in fins until our instructors directed us to go explore.  

As soon as we started snorkeling, the initial (irrational) fear of sharks and a million other things that can kill you disappears and you are almost overwhelmed by the scenery. Fish are everywhere, and beautiful displays of coral line the sea beds.  I followed a turtle a few hundred feet, dove down to see a clown fish (Nemo!) in an anemone, and watched schools of fish flash through the water.

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Nemo

school of fish

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After a few hours on the reef, we took a break for lunch before heading to Hastings Reef to see a deeper part of the reef.

After squeezing back into my wetsuit (zip!), pulling on my fins (flop!), and pulling on my mask (swoosh!… Am I the only one getting the ‘Froggy Gets Dressed’ references?!), we jumped back in the water.  Within minutes, we were greeted by an incredibly large, friendly fish named Geppetto.  (I later found out that he always visited the boat in hopes of getting some leftovers from lunch.)

Geppedo

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We also saw some not-so-friendly creatures, including Barry the Barracuda, who liked hanging out in the shade of the boat.

Barry the Barracuda

We explored the deeper waters, checking out giant clams and bigger fish.  The water was a little chilly, so we moved around a lot to stay warm.  After a few hours, we went back on deck to warm up in the sun.

The whole day was incredible, and was certainly worth the trip.  I hope to go back again one day, and this time, maybe I’ll bring a snack for Geppetto. 

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