Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef

Whilst in Australia, I was absolutely determined to see the Great Barrier Reef, even if it killed me! Which it almost did!

Well, I suppose that’s a bit dramatic, but I did almost have a panic attack during my SCUBA session.

I went out with Passions of Paradise, which,despite sounding like an adult film title, was a lovely G-rated experience. Unlike when I’ve dived in the past, this was my first time diving off a boat, practically an hour away from land, and it was storming on the shore, so the waters were a bit rough. After entering the water and doing my 1 meter mask check, I almost threw in the metaphorical beach towel in favor of snorkeling due to an oncoming panic attack. But I instead gave myself a brief pep talk, something along the lines of “Jules, you did not fly literally halfway around the world to tell people that “almost” saw the Great Barrier Reef, so take a deep breath – as deep as possible with a respirator in your mouth – do some confidence poses, and get your butt back under the water!” Y’all should know, the Passions of Paradise instructor gave me a much nicer pep talk.

I am so happy that I talked myself into it. The water calmed down quite a bit once we had gotten deeper and I was able to see the incredible beauty and diversity of the Great Barrier Reef. Also, with a fantastic Passions photographer capturing pictures of all the wildlife, coral, and participants, I was free to simply enjoy the dive and subsequent snorkeling. After a half an hour dive, we were also able to change gear and snorkel for half an hour before packing up and heading to our second location for SCUBA and snorkeling.

Extra Perks to traveling with this crew:

  • Education!

    • After the time in the water, there was an instructor on board to educate us on the wildlife that we viewed using photos taken by the Passions Photographer. I am embarrassed to say that after so much excitement between the scuba and the panic attack, I nodded off during part of the lesson, but from what I saw, it was excellent! She named and described a wide variety of fish, sharks, turtles, and coral which had been spotted on our particular dives.
  • You’re on a catamaran sailboat!
    • This is purely a perk based on preference, but I absolutely love sail boats so even without the excellent views of the reef, the informative hosting staff, and the hot tea, I would consider 5 hours spent on a sailboat in the ocean off the coast of Australia as a win no matter what. Plus you get to lounge on the fantastic trampoline of the catamaran and enjoy of bit of cool ocean spray!
  • Onboard snacks, tea and coffee!
    • You’re out for almost the whole day, battling both the sea and the wetsuit, and burning calories like it’s your job! They do a wonderful job making sure that you’re well fueled for the adventure!

I was only able to spend one night in Cairns, so while I can’t say more about the city, I can assure you, the night life is poppin’ – loads of great DJs and tables to dance on. Also if you’re in the mood for some late night shopping, Cairns has it’s famous Night Market which is stocked with booths selling crafts, jewelry, clothing, etc. made by local artisans. I got most of my souvenirs here because it was all authentic and reasonably priced. I got a great aboriginal screen printing tank top designed by a local student, some coasters with pictures of Australian wildlife with gold inlay, and some opal earrings. That said, one of my favorite souvenirs was a set of cheap friendship bracelets to stay connected with my best girls from this trip because of course, the best souvenirs are friendships and memories!

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