Despite my best efforts, we boarded a ship in Cairns and sped out to the Great Barrier Reef, to fling ourselves down into shark-infested waters and look at fishes.
And guess what? It was awesome, amazing, breath-taking (literally), awe-inspiring and exciting.
We boarded the SeaQuest on Wednesday morning.
It’s a big catamaran type ship that has a ton of people out for just a single day of diving, so right after the second dive, it turns into quite a party. It’s pretty manic overall, filled with hungover college students with varying degrees of experience. The crew, including dive director Katie, was amazing amidst the chaos.
After the second dive and lunch, a few of us transferred over to the OceanQuest, a larger ship, sporting some very luxurious accomodations.
Actually, as much as I make fun of it, you can believe I CRASHED out every night. And it suited me just fine.
Aboard the OceanQuest, we had 4-5 dives a day, including a morning dive at 6:30 am (dive briefing at 6 am) and a night-time dive (sharks included) at 7 pm. It added up to 11 dives over 3 days, which at the time sounded like a lot, but was manageable.
I did one night-time dive, but it was so dark, it felt like being in a cave. Since I’m claustrophobic and not interested in cave diving (which was also an option on our trip), one night-time dive was enough for me. I’m glad I tried it (with our awesome, yet incredibly young looking guide Frasier, which made me very nervous,) but I won’t be doing it again.
Most of our dives took place in the morning, when the light was very good and the fish were active. We usually started at around 18 meters (60 feet) and worked our way backwards, getting more shallow throughout the day.A lot of our dives were off Norman Reef, but we also went to Saxon Reef.
We generally went with guides, but also did a couple of very nice (and slighltly more shallow) solo buddy dives. We saw tons of everything, including loads of clown fish (such as the spiny cheek clown fish – only in the GBR, according to our guide Kaz), a few stingrays, some yellow devilfish (which swim upside down — also only in the GBR, according to Kaz).
We got very cuddly with a Humpheaded Maori Wrasse named Wally – seriously, he practically came home with us — and some friendly angel fish. We got less close to many, many reef sharks, which weren’t quite as scary as I’d built them up to be.
Jo, the exceptionally excellent dive director on board the OceanQuest, set us up with a camera the second and third day.She was so helpful and cheerful in every single situation, as was almost everyone aboard the OceanQuest. The only outlier was the cranky chef, who despite putting out crowd-pleasing grub, was very shy/cranky. Take your pick.
We took pictures and like many before and after us, I am supremely disappointed and don’t feel they even begin to capture the majesty we saw underwater. What the hell? Why can’t we get some better underwater cameras out there?
But, here you go, nevertheless. A few meager and inadequate glimpses into the unbelievable and undescribable Great Barrier Reef.