It took 30 mins to get to the ferry terminal which was a mission to find! If you ever need to get to fleet terminal for reef tours folks be sure to aim for Shang-Ri-la hotel, park up and it's on the left of the hotels entrance near the jetty. Wish someone gave us those directions.... we stopped two people and they both confused the lives out of us.
We checked in and immediately it seems to be a really slick well run operation, lots of staff on hand to help, friendly and great information to hand. The boat is massive - loads of room as they don't fill to capacity, free tea and coffee available all day and a bar if you fancy - it has 3 levels, sun deck, indoor/outdoor seating and cafeteria.
The journey is a pretty choppy 90-minute ride and 15 mins into it a Chinese girl runs to the bin in front of us and throws up - domino effect commences. There are loads of Chinese on the trip as it's Chinese New Year and boy are they bad at sailing! Everywhere we look they are running around with sick bags, heading for bins and loos and hanging off the back of the boat. It's awful but according to the staff it was worse yesterday and it's quite typical. Jacq asks if they sell sea sickness tabs and buys two - we aren't feeling sick from the sea but with this boke marathon on the go we think it's best to take them.
The views are beautiful, we head outside Matt stands at the side of the boat and Jacq sits at the end. The Chinese vom squad are beginning to get to Jacq so she has a snooze to escape nausea.
Half way through the ride the marine biologist on board does a presentation on creatures we should expect to see today on the reef - the colours of the fish and coral are beautiful - scientists estimate the older part is around 800,000 years old but feel it could be a million years old and are doing studies at present. It's the only living thing visible from space and a natural wonder of the world. So excited!!
We arrive at marina point which is like a deck available only to our boat "reef magic" and hosts a glass bottom boat tour - which is the best we've ever seen- huge viewing panels and stunning coral, a semi-submersible submarine offering good views of the marine life and a snorkelling zone.
The snorkelling was definitely the highlight for us both - the clear waters let us explore so many different fish and corals - we're so lucky the weather is holding for us today!
We are all wetsuitted up and flipping around - the waves are quite rough and big but it's well cornered off for our protection. At 1.15pm they throw in fish food to get a bit of a commotion going and encourage their resident Wrasse by the name of Wally to come and visit us - he was about 4feet long and gorgeous! It was amazing as he glided past our legs, we got back into our gear and followed him around for a bit watching as he bullied the littler fish, loving the attention he was getting from the group.
Everyone was warned not to touch him as he has a protective coat and it can make him sick to be overly man handled - poor Wally was getting stroked left right and centre - some people are simply dumb eh?!
Matt got an awesome professional snap in his gear holding a Cairns license plate (see above), we headed for the sun deck and left for the shore at 3pm - just as the weather turned awful, it began to lash from the heavens and everyone was so grateful it came so late - it lashed the whole way home, we pulled up at 5pm and ran to the camper soaked.
Brilliant day! So good we decide well leave the campsite early and make tracks for our next stop near Townsville as we had to hang around Cairns longer than planned to get a booking for the reef. We head to the site, shower and charge up the phones and after some google magic we set off for Townsville for a snoop.