After an exhilarating trip to New Zealand, we turned our compass towards Australia to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. Arriving in Cairns Australia, we followed a scenic highway to Port Douglas. It was night, so we couldn’t see the ocean, but the hairpin turns along the coast kept us focused. We would make this trip several times during our stay, here is how it looks in the day:
Along this ocean by-way stands a rock-balancing area where locals and tourists express their creativity. Flanked by a beautiful backdrop, the rocks are endless.
Port Douglas is a hip town, with a nice marina and plenty of shopping and restaurants.
We rented a spacious house on AirBnB that offered luxury accommodations just a few miles from the town center.
Great Barrier Reef
Our focus for Port Douglas was snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, we envisioned calm waters and endless reefs, something similar to this:
We were organized. A few months in advance, we signed up for the snorkeling trip, but the day before we arrived in Port Douglas, the trip was cancelled due to high winds and waves. The company we had chosen was worried about people getting sick on board, so they bailed on the trip.
Luckily, we had a few days in Port Douglas so we checked with some companies that had larger boats to see if we could make it out. We found a couple that were willing to go but they had a disclaimer about getting sick on the way out. Weather improved a bit but there were still 3-4 foot waves. We were determined to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef so we signed up.
The trip out was not nearly as bad as they had warned. It was a little bumpy on the 35 mile trip to the Great Barrier Reef but none of us got sick. You can see the choppiness in the water but that did not obscure the incredible views underneath.
Before the trip, my family bought me a Go Pro for my birthday. I was very excited to use it and it was working well.
I attached it to a head strap and as I swam from reef to reef I was anticipating the great video I would capture along the way. The reef at times was only about 3 feet underneath and at other times it was 25 feet below. When it was deep, I would dive deep to get up close to the fish down below.
After snorkeling for about 45 minutes, I surfaced to find that my Go Pro was no longer on my head! Disheartened, I came back aboard and told everyone the news. All the Go Pro video I had taken during our trip would be lost!
Then word got around on the boat and the ship photographer said he had found a Go Pro in the reef! Exuberant, I was happy to find it was mine! Later, I watched the video and could see the exact moment I lost it — I could see it come off my head and float to its resting place on top of the reef that was about 10 feet below!
Daintree Rain forest
Cairns is about a 1 hour drive from Port Douglas and we took advantage of visiting the Daintree rain forest. In Cairns, you hop on a gondola that takes you on a 2.5 hour trip over the tips of the rain forest. It has stops along the way where you can visit the rain forest up close.
The end point is the town of Kuranda where you can shop, have cocktails or lunch, and watch the locals and tourists blend. To get back to Cairns, you board the Kuranda Scenic Railway where you will get a stones-throw view of waterfalls and incredible scenery.
Our next blog will take us to Sydney Australia where we will visit the world-famous Opera House and explore the city. If you are not subscribed to our blog and would like to subscribe so that new posts come directly to your email, scroll up to the right top section of this page and type in your email address.
I’ll leave you with a picture of Greg and Kathy Tawes on our snorkeling adventure to the Great Barrier Reef.