Diving the Great Barrier Reef

I have wanted to get certified as a scuba diver for the longest time.  It was always so expensive, so up until I got to cairns, I had never gone through with it. But now I was in one of the best places to go diving, the Great Barrier Reef.  I knew I would regret it if I didn’t get it now.

Diving was nothing like I expected. The first two days were classroom/pool days, where we learned theory, and practiced the skills that we would need to use in the ocean. We learned how to put together and take apart gear, how to descend and ascend safely, and other things that we would later be tested on in the ocean.

Then we were off to the boat for three days at sea. We sped off to the great barrier reef, the legendary diving site and wonder of the world.  We had two dives the first day, and they were amazing.

Diving in the ocean was nothing like the practice we did in the pool.  It was 5 million times better.  In the pool, all you can think about it that you are breathing from a tank.  In the ocean, that all slips away as you look across the vast space.

There was so much to see down there that you weren’t even thinking about the fact that you are 12, 13, 14 meters below the surface.  You have to keep thinking of it, though, to make sure you are checking your equipment, keeping track of your air and depth.

We also went snorkeling on the first day, chasing fish around the reef and looking for sharks.  We didn’t see any while snorkeling, but saw some sting rays and turtles, which was pretty awesome.

That night, we drank a few beers on the roof and watched the stars.  Since we were so far out, there was no light pollution to ruin the view, and the stars were absolutely stunning.  We asked the skipper to turn off our boats lights, and we just sat there for hours staring at them.

The next day we woke up early to start off with the four dives we had that day.  The first two dives finished off our open water certification, and after that we were on our own.  During these dives, we saw green turtles, white tip reef sharks, and tons of cool coral and fish.

On our first solo dive, my diving partner I and I got a little lost, which was definitely my fault.  I kept chasing sharks around, and was very wrong in my orientation under the ocean.

That night, we went on a night dive (and started our certification for adventure diver/advanced).  That night dive was absolutely amazing. I kept waiting to be scared, as we could literally see sharks feeding before we even got in the water, but it was just awesome the whole time.
We saw lionfish, shrimp, parrot fish, trumpet fish, flute fish, and white tip reef sharks.  There were so many sharks swimming around, and then we turned off our flashlights torches and sat under the bottom of the boat to watch the sharks feed.  It was incredible.

The last day on the boat we did 2 more dives, including a dive down to 30 meters.  We also did our photography/naturalist dive, and saw turtles, sting rays, and actually knew what coral and fish we were looking at, which was pretty cool.

Back on land, I took a shower for the first time in three days, and definitely continued to sway like I was still on a boat.  As the best cure for sea legs is alcohol, the whole group met for drinks and dancing that night.  Dive team shots may have been involved.

The rest of my time in Cairns was a blur. We laid by the lagoon, explored the night markets, and explored all that Cairns had to offer.

One day, some friends from diving and I rented a car and drove up to Cape Tribulation, which is located in the Daintree National Rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests in the world. We hiked along the beach, trying to find crocodiles with no luck.  We did find a weird starfish hiding under some rocks, though.

We hiked to a swimming hole, and I was the first one that was willing to swing of the rope swing (to my potential death, still unclear if there were crocs in that water).  We played Tarzan for a while before heading back to a great look out point.

Then it was time to move on.  I found myself a job on an island, and headed down on a bus to my next location.  Next blog post will be about my adventures on Maggie Island!

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