For me, going to Australia was my ultimate bucket list item since childhood. People are always curious about my fascination with Australia which started around the time I was in the first grade. I learned of a curious animal called the platypus which initially caught my attention. My grandmother continued to foster my interest, since Australia was her favorite country of all that she and Granddad had visited. Bearing all this in mind, the movie Finding Nemo only added fuel to the fire. Once I arrived in Australia, it was only a matter of time before I took off to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.
Cairns is considered the typical gateway to the Great Barrier Reef but there are so many other options as well. The second trip I took to the reef departed from Tropical North Queensland’s world heritage listed Daintree Rainforest at Cape Tribulation. The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest botanical rainforest in the world. Cape Tribulation is where it meets the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. The guys at Ocean Safari (my tour operator) are based there. Their high speed “adventure” style boat makes for a fabulous and fun time cruising out to the reef. The boat is small so it can only accommodate about 25 people, which gives you an opportunity to get to know the crew. The crew were very personable and laid back (allowing kids on our trip to even take the wheel under supervision). In the water they acted as guides who were knowledgeable about where the locals like to hang out, even making sure to point out where the ‘real’ Nemo lived (pictured). I got to photobomb a turtle (probably Crush) and some of the other guest were lucky enough to see one of Bruce’s crew (not sure what sort of shark as I didn’t see it).
The rainbow colored corals were stunning! After quite some time the crew rounded us back onto the boat and took us roughly 10-15 meters away before announcing we were at our second spot. I was amazed that the animals were so diverse and different, though we hadn’t gone far. It is the trip of a lifetime!
You will notice I decided to discuss my second trip to the reef. My first trip was from Cairns, and was not the trip of a lifetime! I chose a large provider with a good reputation. I was not pleased with the experience (particularly soured by several members of the crew who needed an attitude adjustment). The large boat accommodated many people, and I felt I was treated as a number. Furthermore, much of the coral was really deep so you will get a much better look by scuba diving. I passed up the option for the introductory dive because I had wanted to relax while on my holiday, not realizing the reef we were visiting wasn’t optimal for snorkeling.
My third trip to the reef was in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, noted for their sea turtles.