Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef and Driving Down the Coast

The Great Barrier Reef

Dreams, every so often, do come true.  I had been dreaming of diving the Great Barrier Reef for over 10 years and was close to fulfilling it in 2008, if it weren’t for “the end of a 7-year drought,” insane storms flooding highways and essentially shutting down the coast.  The weather wasn’t much better this time but as we soon learned on the boat, “if it’s raining, the best place to be is underwater.”

We boarded the Kangaroo Express through the Cairns Dive Center, bidding farewell to our ladies for the night and promising to behave.  We’d see them the following day after all and Claire needed to finish up some pool work before getting into the open water.  The ride out was nothing short of terrifying, not so much for our lives, but for the sheer embarrassment of potentially being “that guy” who was hurling over the side of the boat.  Eyes trained solely for the horizon, we mustered up the strength to keep our breakfast down and finally, the 90-minute ride ended with us boarding the much more stable Kangaroo Express, our home for the next 3 days.

After some safety briefings and getting checked into our rooms, and trying to sneak our way into the 11:00 dive, we learned we’d be spending our time between two dive areas:  Mantaray Caye and East Timor on Moore Reef.  Our first dive finally arrived and was essentially a refresher course and ultimately a way for divemaster Joel to gauge our skill

Giant Clam

level.  I guess he felt comfortable, because the 2nd dive was true freedom.  On the first dive we saw a giant clam that was breathtaking and would be a regular sighting through the rest of our time.  After the second briefing, we were allowed to go out on our own, exploring the massive reef system and bommies, scouting three turtles, anemones and tons of tropical fish.  At first, it was scary being on our own but soon found our comfort zone and enjoyed each minute underwater.  This would be our final dive of the day and we settled nicely into the buffet dinner, matched with goon we snuck on board, and got busy playing cribbage.  We met a group of Americans and soon found out they knew how to play Euchre, and the next 2 days were spent perfecting our skills between dives.

The next day was busy, with 4 total dives.  We started early and got on the 6:00am dive and then the 8:00 dive with a delicious breakfast in between.  We probably even snuck in a game of cribbage, too.  The highlight was the Continue reading “Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef and Driving Down the Coast”