After several days in the outback you may feel that the entire Australia is a desert but when you fly into Cairns you are surrounded by the lush vegetation of Queensland. It’s like the desert never existed. It was humidity in the air and we drove – yeah, on the left side – through large plantation of sugar cane and banana all the way to the charming village of Port Douglas, one hour out of Cairns.
Cairns and Port Douglas are the two hubs for Australia’s main attraction, the Great Barrier Reef, a underworld marvel that spreads on the length equivalent to the distance between Maine and Florida. I did a little bit of research about how to visit and snorkel in the reef and we settled on Wavelenght, a boat run by local marine biologists that looked to be the best bet for a snorkeling trip.
But the weather started to be iffy, with high winds and a rain forecast and we had to see what better boat would fit this weather, especially because the prediction was for high waves and a very rough ride to the deep ocean.
In the end we chose to go with Calypso, that does the same route as Wavelength navigating around Opal Reef, but they have a bigger boat but they do also diving. But no matter how big was the boat the sail was extremely rough and the crew was standing around the 60+ people with bags in hands… just in case. A Dramamine pill though helped a lot.
Calypso sailed all the way into the ocean, about 90 minute one way, and they gave us suits to protect from jelly fish that may not have been so active now but are a menace on the coasts of Australia. We did three snorkeling stops, each for about one hour. After each outing the entire crew, supervised by a bearded captain was counting the people on the boat, asking everybody to sit still till the count is over.
The reef was spectacular and it looked so different in each location, in some places having more fish than in the other. However in terms of fish and marine life I doubt that anything beats the Red Sea. The Dahab’s Blue Hole in Egypt still remains one of the best snorkeling experience we ever had. But here you have the corals…After the third dive they packed all gear and snorkeling and diving suits and started to clean and prepare them for the following day tour. We sailed back on a less rough sea to the charming village of Port Douglas where life happens in a slow paced, relaxed, Australian way.