Time to go from 15,000 ft in the air to the depths of the ocean, and by depths I mean 30ft. Scuba diving day! We walk down to the dock and board the boat that will take us out to sea for the day. We booked through Adventure Down Under which was a quick 15 minute walk away from the IBIS Cairns, great location and affordable! Our trip out to sea included round trip transportation on the boat to the drop off spot, a glass bottom boat tour with a guide, snorkeling, breakfast, lunch and 1 scuba dive (2 divers per guide). For an extra $50 you could rent an underwater camera (you keep the memory card which is 4gs) and for $50 you could scuba dive at the second location instead of only snorkeling. All and all a great price for a once in a life time experience!
There was a little rain as we crossed the ocean to our drop off spot. The time flew quickly as they walked us through proper techniques. Anything goes quickly when an Australian is explaining it to you, I was in accent heaven. We reach the drop off spot as the sun comes out. Since we are diving later we head to the glass bottom boat for a tour. Another culturally educated Scott takes us around for about 40 minutes explaining names of corral and providing fun facts about the life underneath. It is truly another world.
After the ride it is time to snorkel! They offer us sting repelling suits which we decline- I need my classic underwater pictures. We grab our gear and jump into the fresh open water. Quick flash back to 5 days ago when I was in 10″ of snow in NYC, thank God moment and back to the fish! We snorkel around schools of fish of every color. We even find a turtle swimming! Of the finding nemo characters we have one down: Crush.
After about an hour it is time to go scuba diving. I have done many adventure seeking thrills in my life but truthfully this is the one I was most afraid of. We suit up and talk about how sexy we look to lighten my concerns. The moment arrives, I feel like Scuba Steve as I flop my way over to the side of the boat, quick jump in and I am under. Breathing through a tube is supremely awkward, not to mention I can no longer talk. Obviously big problem for me. The silence surrounds you and for a minute I feel claustrophobic since I lost my ability to speak and hear. Someone suggested to calm our worries you sing a song; “Let It Be” by the Beatles comes to my head: “When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comforts me, speaking words of wisdom: Let It Be.” Keep Calm and Sing the Beatles.
Since we are 1 guide to 2 divers I get a hand held tour of the Great Barrier Reef. You don’t really even need to know how to swim since your vest has weights and flotations. We are basically dragged around and shown everything. The pictures do not do it justice. We find Nemo, Dori and millions of other fish of every color. They do not care that we are there and basically swim in our faces. It is unreal.
Back on the boat we freak at how unbelievable that was and rush to sign up for the next dive. Again, when in Rome! They serve us lunch: pasta salads, cold cuts, bread and veggies (drinks are additional). The second dive spot is about 30 minutes away but we dive about an hour later. Perfect amount of time to eat and have our food settle. The second dive is different; we have 1 guide for 4 divers. With our fear reduced I am excited at the prospect of swimming the ocean floor on my own. We jump in and our guide helps us descend and then lets us go. We swim up with a mission: to see a shark. At each pod, for lack of a more official word, we search. Unfortunately we never find one but everything we do find is amazing. Our instructor pauses us halfway through and shows us how to back flip. It is 100x harder than a normal back flip underwater with your gear, flippers and mask all while trying to keep your breathing tube in your mouth but still fun to see the ocean upside down.
After about 45 minutes underwater we head back to the boat. As the boat makes its way back to land we sit on the roof enjoying the sun and watch as the mountains get closer. An out of this world experience on the other side of the world just proves how much there is to see in life.
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese