Who would not want to dive in the Great Barrier Reef? That’s probably on every traveler’s bucket list visiting Australia.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the World’s largest living structure with about 3000 individual coral reefs and 900 islands. It stretches over 2300 kilometres and is on the North-Eastern side of Australia, off the coast of Queensland.
A long weekend of Australia Day was coming up and hey I had to travel somewhere. But where? I decided to go with the long-pending bucket list item – a dive in the Great Barrier Reef. As I was traveling solo, I made sure my itinerary was very well planned with all the activities booked. After plenty of research on the scuba dive centers (Reason for the ‘plenty’ of research? Because of the bad dive experience in Gold Coast :/ ), I finalized with Visit Cairns. They in turn booked the CDC dive center as the tour operator – I must admit that the entire booking process was very smooth.
Few days before the dive
As the day of the dive approached, I had mixed feelings – of being excited, pumped, scared, and nervous. Suddenly out of nowhere, there were news every day about the shark sightings and attacks (well, a shark had attacked a dolphin 🙁 ) along the coast of New South Wales. As I was already nervous, the newspapers were not helping me either. So, I decided to research on the sharks that live in the Great Barrier Reef (Why not, isn’t it better to be mentally prepared?).
I learned that the most common ones are Reef tip sharks (I actually spotted one, during my submarine tour that I had taken the previous day) – quite timid and harmless, and Hammerhead sharks – not overly aggressive, but then there are the tiger sharks which are said to be aggressive. I further did some statistical analysis and assured myself that I am safe based on the number of attacks that have happened in the past. There is a famous saying “You are most likely to be hit by a bus than be bitten by a shark”.
On the day of the dive
I had hardly slept the previous night and was super excited about my dive. It had finally arrived – so many months of planning and here I was ticking off one of my bucket list items in just a few hours. I started my day at 6 AM, decided to have a morning stroll from YHA Cairns to the Jetty. The boat was picking me up from the Jetty and driving to the diving place – somewhere in the middle of Great Barrier Reef.
My experience with dive centre staff
The CDC dive center staff were very friendly. I was welcomed with a picture of mine in front of the boat.
After our medical declarations and a light refreshment of tea/coffee, we reached the place where we were diving (Yipppee). Initially, we were given instructions for snorkeling. As I am not a swimmer, one of the friendly staff was with me all time in the water. Due to the clarity of the water, the fishes, corals and its beautiful colors were visible even while snorkeling (you don’t need to dive in order see the corals and the fishes really). But I wanted to dive 🙂 (greedy me!) in one of the natural wonders of the World.
After an hour of the snorkel, I was called out for the dive. We were two of us diving (So good, I have company). We were asked to wear all the scuba diving gear – a scuba tank, weights, mask, and fins and were briefed with the safety instructions. One instructor accompanied us, who was holding one of our hands throughout the dive. Initially, blaming the strands of hair stuck in between the mask, the water had seeped into the mask and my eyes were burning (visible in my pictures taken by the instructor – too bad :/ ). With the help from my instructor, I was all sorted and was ready to go down even deeper into the ocean. The descent of 10 metres was very gradual.
I started to look around and observe the spectacular busy life around me in that big blue World. There were so many different kinds of fishes – big, small, funny nosed, yellow, white, purple, green, blue colored and many more. And they seemed to be all around; around us, inside the corals, near by and far away – like everywhere.
Highlight was the Clown fish I spotted 😉 , popularly known as ‘Nemo’ 😀 .
The corals were so beautiful and colorful. Corals are basically classified as soft corals and hard corals. They were in all shapes and sizes. And I saw them all.
The entire experience of seeing the largest living structure on Earth was so mystical, special and extraordinary.
This is definitely a must-do and Australian travel is for sure incomplete without a dive or a snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. I am so glad that I went ahead and did the dive, and ticked off the item on my bucket list :D.
Note: After diving in Cairns and Port Douglas, I suggest diving in Port Douglas. The dive sites in Port Douglas are less crowded and are absolutely amazing. They are way better than the dive centres at Cairns.