The Great Barrier Reef – One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World
When we decided to honeymoon in Australia, we also chose to add on a side trip from our original destination of Sydney. When else might we have a chance to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef? It was a no brainer.
Australia’s Great National Wonder
The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing viewable from space. It is even larger than the Great Wall of China! The Reef is comprised of over 3,000 individual reef systems and hundreds of tropical islands.
The Great Barrier Reef has been a World Heritage Site in 1981 and was also added to the list of 7 Natural Wonders of the World in 1997. It was declared a state icon of Queensland in 2006.
Here are some sites if you would like to learn more about the reef
There are many companies along the coast that offer tours to the reef. I’m going to review the company we booked our tour through.
We decided to go with Reef Magic Cruises. We arrived about 30 minutes before our tour started to check in. It was at that point, we should have realized when they warned us to make sure we had sea sickness meds on us that it was going to be a bumpy ride. Before boarding, they took photos of everyone, you know, those touristy ones you can purchase later?
Of course we bought it.
We traveled out to a pontoon on the Moore Reef section via a large three level catamaran.
The boat moved very fast, and the water was very rough. It wasn’t long until Matt was sick. But he wasn’t alone, when I went to check on him, there were about 20 people in the back of the boat, all with sick bags they were actively filling. I was doing pretty well for the most part, and then I made the fatal mistake of throwing away my gum. Within 5 minutes I was reaching for a sick bag as well. It was then, I even saw some of the staff with sick bags. They weren’t lying when they said the water was rough that day.
Our Pontoon Home For The Day
After 90 minutes, we finally made it to the pontoon. We were both ready to get off that boat! I did purchase some ginger beer for the two of us to sip on in hopes of calming our stomachs. Within a few minutes my stomach had calmed completely. Poor Matt had to nap for an hour on the pontoon until he felt ok again.
The pontoon had two main levels. There was also a lower deck viewing area that you could walk through quickly to see the reef and other swimmers. The upper level had chairs to lounge on, or in Matt’s case to recover on.
When ready to enter the water, you selected a wetsuit that fit, along with fins and a snorkel set. Changing areas and bathrooms were available on the lower level. There was a scuba session, but we were both satisfied with the snorkeling option.
Finally Seeing the Great Barrier Reef Up Close
Before entering the water for the first time, the staff went over the importance of NOT TOUCHING the reef. Besides the fact that it needs to be preserved, it is sharp and will cut you. Then you were able to come and go as you pleased.
Lunch was served part way through the day; a salad plus some hot food options, water and other beverages were also available throughout the day. I loved swimming through the water, though I’m still not great at snorkeling, more so keeping the water out of the snorkel and not choking while attempting to breathe. I also need to work on keeping my goggles defogged.
Monitoring the Great Barrier Reef and How You Can Help
Something I found interesting was this post. In a partnership with Victoria University and James Cook University, they are collecting photos of the Reef over time. Because everyone’s photos can be taken at different angles and perspectives, its hard to actively judge the changes over time. But as the post directs, you position your camera or phone on top of the post then take your photo. Because the pontoon is in the same spot all the time, the photos will all be of the same section.
Matt Finally Recovers
After some time on the top deck of the Pontoon, Matt finally made his way down to the water. Then I couldn’t get him out, he loved it!
They also had a photographer who swam around to take underwater shots of everyone. You know we bought those too.
Back to the Main Land
After 5 hours on the Pontoon, it was time to head back to Cairns. Yes, that meant another 90 minutes on the Catamaran. Were we prepared? Who would get sick first?
Matt, it was definitely Matt. I was able to keep the contents of my lunch in my stomach on the way back, as long as I stood at the back of the Catamaran on the lower level but stuck my head around the side with my face in the wind. Any other movement, or direction and I could feel my salad churning inside.
We made it back to Carins with enough time to take a nap and rest before heading to dinner at Bushfire Flame Grill, located conviently in our Hotel.
See the rest of our Australian adventure here!