Thursday, October 27, 2011
GREAT Barrier Reef
Day 28 Wednesday, October 26, 2011 Today was FANTABULOUS!!!! We (the Swedes and I) went scuba diving in the great barrier reef today…and it is GREAT! Since I'm on a budget, I wasn't sure if I wanted to pay for diving since I had already done it once before in the Dominican Republic and sort of checked it off my bucket list. But, after asking around, we found a company that had a special this week so for the price of snorkeling, we got to snorkel and have a free dive. Can't beat that deal! Or so we thought, turns out, after the first dive, you could buy a 2nd for just $30! So, it cost us less than any other company for snorkeling and we got snorkeling, 2 dives, and a great, personal experience since they were a smaller company…it was worth every penny! So, if you ever find yourself wanting to dive in the GBR, I HIGHLY recommend CDC Cairns, the company I used—they were great and they are small and love word-of-mouth support!
I was a bit concerned at our 6am wake up today since we had gone out last night to the Woolshed (the local pub and our free dinner spot) and stayed late since 2 of the 4 of us entered a bikini contest…and won $100 at the bar I might add! But, we powered through it and made it to the docks by 7 and were headed out on the water by 745am. It was about 2 hours out to the reef and along the way, we saw 2 spinner dolphins.
We dove at the Briggs Outer Reef, at the "Fishbowl" site to a depth of 9 meters (conversion anyone?) for 25 minutes. To be honest, I expected to have about the same experience and not be too impressed other than to say I dove at the GBR. Boy am I glad I was wrong (guess I picked a good time to be wrong for the first time in my life). The colors and size and variety of everything were beyond words. I literally felt like I was high on something while watching Cirque de Soleil—like there's no way this stuff could actually be real. Purple, blue, and green fish, clams as big as me, and sea cucumbers (black and rose-colored) as big as my leg (although much slimier)---it was insane! I am also happy to report that my golden horseshoe is waterproof apparently. During the briefing, every guide, as well as several experienced people told us how rare it is to see a shark and we would be really lucky to see one….well, we were lucky…times 3!!! The first sighting, was a shark about 3 feet long and it was under a rock. We thought that was cool enough and almost didn't go on a second dive, but the 2nd dive turned out even better than the first (and we go the longest dive out of any group—33 minutes)! [Aside from my slight panic when I forgot how to swallow under water and started hyperventilating under water (thank God the guide, Joel, was patient and calmed a panicky girl enough to remain under water and catch her breath)]. Gotta tell you, not sure there are many worse things than being under water and not being able to breathe. (I knew I was in good hands when I found out his name was Joel though…thanks for protecting me, Pops!) : )
Anywho, I digress. So, on the second dive, we had TWO sightings of a 4 ft. long shark and both times, it was swimming around, which is even rarer! Can you believe I wasn't scared one bit and actually wanted to get closer! Being underwater is very surreal and it's like time stops and you're in a protective bubble and invincible (expect for non-breathing attacks, of course). Both sharks we saw were white-tipped reefs and our friend, Anja, spotted an Epaulette shark. On top of amazingly colored fish and coral of all types (plate, boulder, staghorn, etc.), GIANT clams, a school of unicorn surgeon fish right above us, and a spider shell, we also saw a sea turtle (green species), and an octopus! And out of all the groups that dove, we were the only one the sharks and turtle!!!!! Needless to say, I am really glad I did today's "once in a lifetime" tour as it truly was just that! Oh, and…the guides invited us to free pizza and beer tonight and we met a Spanish guy, Daniel, on the boat who rented a car and invited us to go along to the same tour we were going to have to spend $135 for….that horseshoe of mine must be getting even stronger here down under and I quite like it! Cheers, mates! : )