Saturday, April 30, 2011

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

With all the traveling Nick and I have done since moving to Guam, I can't believe we are just now taking our second trip together. This time our destination was somewhere I have wanted to go my entire life... Australia! I grew up hearing from Aussie friends about kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree and thought this Australia sounded like a fun place. And more recently, the Great Barrier Reef was added as a must for our SCUBA resume. So on Easter Sunday we flew to Cairns and began our down under dive vacation!

     Amazingly Cairns, Australia is only a four-hour nonstop flight from Guam. For once, we didn't even have to change time zones! To get the most out of our time there, we booked a three-day, two-night all-inclusive liveaboard cruise to the outer reef with a dive operator called Pro Dive Cairns. The main appeal of staying on the boat is that you don't have to spend three hours a day traveling to and from the reef. We did that trek once on the first day, once on the last day, and all the dive sites in between were small hops away. Once at the reef, all we had to do was eat, sleep, and dive.

Being late April, Australia is in the middle of its fall season, so we didn't have the most perfect weather. It was really windy, 20-30 knot winds all three days, which made for quite a bit of chop (10-12 foot surf!) on the ride out. The wind and chop also meant we didn't have the most amazing visibility on our dives. We soon came to realize how absolutely spoiled we are from diving in Guam.  We even chose to wear wetsuits in the 81 degree water because it felt cold to us. Yes, even Nick, who went through Hell Week in 60-degree San Diego ocean, wore a wetsuit!
When we weren't diving, we had delicious meals prepared by the on-board chef, and we took an abundance of naps in our cozy cabin (bunk beds!). This may be the first time I have ever taken three naps in one day. Diving, in addition to the sea, wind & sun, takes it out of you. There were 32 passengers on board from all over the world... Turkey, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, and even Minnesota. Although, I think we were the most exotic, as nobody had ever heard of Guam or had any idea where it was. But ALL of them were jealous once we enlightened them about our equator home :)

The diving portion of the trip was truly fantastic. High quality dive gear was provided and set up for us. It was a bit of a pain having to wear full-body stinger suits to protect from the poisonous box jellyfish (we didn't see any of them). But we knocked out 10 dives in 48 hours, including two night dives. While we saw a number of things that are regulars on our Guam dives, the colors, varieties, sizes and quantities of these things were remarkable. In addition, there were so many new fish and sea creatures we'd never seen before, along with impressively huge versions of things we used to think were big in Guam. Nick took dozens of beautiful pictures, more than I can post here, but without further adieu, here are the highlights:

Unicorn Fish - So ridiculous looking!

Juvenile Sweetlips - These grow up to be black and white and look completely different (?)

Green turtle - We saw so many turtles! 

Macro shot of the inside of a huge clam

Spotted this yummy looking lobster on our night dive!
This Napoleon Wrasse is about five feet long!!! The ramora cleaning it is about 12".

One of many white tip reef sharks (they're harmless, Mom), this one about 6' long.

 Doesn't get much more goofy than a box fish!
 This flatworm is about the size of a quarter and it flutters through the water like a graceful slice of ribbon. One of the most unique sightings of the trip.
Clown Fish - We found Nemo on his way to P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney...
Beautiful corals

Jellyfish - Luckily not the one that causes anaphylactic shock 

In Guam we have clams that are the size of my hand. This giant clam is about four feet long!! Unbelievably massive!

Needless to say, we were so impressed with everything we saw. The amount of things to ogle on this massive reef system was just spectacular. So much creativity and humor under water, making each dive so entertaining. And yet, I couldn't help but feel so small and insignificant when surrounded by such an abundance of life. So grateful to share the sights and sounds of this experience with my favorite dive buddy. And best is all of this activity put us at only three days into our nine-day vacation! More to come :)


  1. awesome!! we loved the great barrier reef - we enjoyed the vivid, beautiful coral!! we only had a throw-away underwater camera at the time so our pics were not as beautiful as yours... what great shots you got!!

  2. Oh you make me miss diving already! I'm so impressed you knocked out 10 dives in two days! You're right about stamina, diving takes it out of you! These pics are fantastic, hopefully we'll get a chance to dive the Reef one day too!!

  3. What a fantastic trip already! Love the photos. I'm scared of how jealous I will be of your next post!!

  4. Nemo!!! Quite Jealous!


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