We were all very, very happy to get to Cairns. Everyone had been working their butt off during data collection. The other groups had been out in the woods fighting leeches, ticks and stinging trees (two people got stung by trees!). We all needed some time to unwind.
That night, we had a typical fun youngster night, going around to different hot spots in Cairns, which is a little funny to say because Cairns is a very small, touristy town. Moral of the story, we stayed out too late for our early wake up the next morning.
6 am we were up to back our stuff, check out and walk down to the marina for our reef trip. Luckily, we all made it on the boat at 7:30 for a two hour trip out to Green Island and the Great Barrier Reef.
We were joking that we have been living here for so long and yet this was our first time to the reef. Lots of rainforest time (not like it’s a bad thing)! The boat we were on was a huge sail boat with about 35 people and 5 crew members who were all super cool. On our way out, the people who were going scuba diving (including yours truly) got a quick run down of basic scuba. I was really surprised at how little they really had to prep us.
Okay, that sounds bad because at no time did I feel unsafe or unprepared. When we got to our mooring spot, we slapped on our gear (so heavy!) and went with one of the crew members diving. Since we weren’t certified, we had to hold on to our guide’s hand the entire time. I think he was getting a little annoyed with me because I was so distracted by everything going on around me, I wasn’t paying attention to where he was going.
It was really an amazing experience. I do have to admit, better than snorkeling. You just feel so close to everything and more apart of the undersea world. We touched some (safe) coral and pet a sea cucumber. The GBR really lives up to its name. Everything around me was amazing. Some of my friends took pictures so I’ll try to load them.
After we were done scubaing, we immediately put on snorkel gear and toured around until lunch time. They fed us VERY well even though they had to send a guy out on a boat to tell me that it was time to eat.
At around 12:45, we took a little motor boat to the island and spent some time walking around. There’s a really nice resort there (us hooligans were not allowed in) and a crocodile sanctuary where they have the largest croc in captivity. I was feeling cheap and didn’t pay the $20 to enter.
NOW comes the highlight of the highlight. We come back to the boat and again, get our snorkeling stuff on for 45 more minutes of exploring. The guides were being goofs and throwing in some food to attract some large sport fish, which were really large and aggressive. So we were swimming in this school of huge fish when DAH DAH DAH a REEF SHARK shows up!!! He/she was like 5ft long and was not scared of us. I was probably a little too confident and almost touched him. Then I thought the better of it. “Hey Elena, how did you lose your hand?” “Oh I was petting a reef shark”
Then there was another one that came along and swam with us. I feel like this was a highlight of my life. It was really amazing. I was pretty terrified and learned after that reef sharks are actually more aggressive than I thought. Yikes. But worth it. Would do it again in a heartbeat.
Snorkeled a little more and then took the trip back to the mainland. Oh and we thought we were burned in Mission Beach-THINK AGAIN. I’m still burnt. Yes mom, I did put on sunscreen, but it was impossible to escape the rays. I am in pain now. Again, so worth it.
So now, the past few days have just been writing. Tomorrow we’re going to JCU to write in peace. Ha just wrote three blog posts, probably should get back to real writing…