Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef

When it came to deciding where to honeymoon, we decided to try something a bit a different than past trips.  We determined we would go on a modern-day adventure and start our life together crossing something (I believe terrifying) off the bucket list: Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef.

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A colleague recommended that dapper husband and I earn our scuba certification abroad as it’s far more fun than diving in Austin’s deep, dark lake. However, we didn’t want to spend any time on our vacation in a pool or shallow waters when we could be exploring the Great Barrier Reef. While a bit of research will tell you there is no significant difference between SSI and PADI certifications (both will prepare you to dive), we went with SSI after reading there was more time in the water during the training and we felt that might give us more comfort when the time came to dive for fun.

We set sail from Cairns on the Spirit of Freedom. For the next four days, we hopped into the ocean to see a myriad of sites along the great barrier reef including a cod hole where fish larger than my coffee table swam around like great big underwater dogs (they really are quite friendly!).

A Day Aboard the Spirit of Freedom

A live aboard gives the opportunity to see sites that are far less visited than those that can be reached within a day trip. Additionally, there’s a peacefulness to being the only ship in the ocean as far as the eye can see and swimming in waters not crowded by other divers’ bubbles.

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The day kicks off around 5 am with a call for first brekkie (breakfast). We’d roll out of the bed and put on our swimsuits to chow down on some cereal before our first dive. My favorite morning dive involved spotting a sea turtle waving it’s little flipper hands through the deep blue– below the surface but not yet near coral.  We’d come back from our dive to find second brekkie (my favorite meal) prepared: waffles, pancakes, toasts, meats, and more. While we feasted, the boat relocated along the reef and we prepped to dive a different site.  When the second dive concluded there was some down time to enjoy the waves, the breeze, sunbathing or reading in a shady part of the deck followed by lunch as we moved to a location for the third dive of the day.

Before each dive, we’d meet up and be separated out into groups and go over the dive plan: how deep, what direction, how were the currents and what do keep an eye out for.  The crew was exceptional! They put my flippers on for me and I felt like Cinderella before every dive.

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After the third dive, we’d have another break and some snacks before the final dive of the day.  On the second day, there was a special night dive, but dapper husband and I skipped out.  I’m not claustrophobic– quite the opposite– large dark spaces give me anxiety. It’s good to know your limits when strapping air to your back and getting into the water with sharks. Instead of the dive, we enjoyed a glass of wine on the upper deck where we could watch the lights play on the surface of the water from the divers below.

Highlights

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Nemo is absolutely everywhere!

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A field of eels below

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An eel

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Reef Sharks

 

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The verticle gardens were a giant cliff full of life where we did a drift dive.  We took a little boat out and on the count of three, tumbled backward into the water and let the current carry us back to our boat. The scenery of fish and coral just scroll by.

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On our last day, we visited the cod hole. These gentle giants swam all around us while the crew fed them to entice them to play with us.

We landed on Lizard Island where one of our travel companions pulled our small passion fruits from trees (delicious!) and we waited for our small plane to come pick us up and take us back to Cairns.

Setting a Tone for Starting a Life Together

I do not think we could have started our life together in a more appropriate way. What is happily ever after if not supporting, sharing and enjoying each other’s dreams. If I had planned the trip myself, I would’ve paddled through crowded, much-visited waters for a view hours and checked the box. It was dapper husband’s idea to hop on a boat for days so we could see more breathtaking sites. It was his infectious enthusiasm that kept me jumping into the water throughout the day. For anyone (whether alone, at the beginning of a relationship, or well in the middle), I would highly recommend the experience.

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