Cairns Chapter: Great Barrier Reef

Photo courtesy by Great Adventure

First thing first, what is Great Barrier Reef anyway?
I’d say Great Barrier Reef is the Kingdom of the Sea, home of 1625 types of fish. It is where not only sea creature, but human are also welcomed. Human (like us) can have scuba diving, snorkeling, glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersible and many other activities in the Great Barrier Reef. The reefs stretch for about 2300 kilometers in the northeast of Australia (Queensland).

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Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Choosing Tour Boat/Provider

Deciding on what would you do in the reef, how, and on what tour were the longest time I took in arranging the Queensland Holiday. I remembered narrowing down my choice to 5 provider based on their rates on Tripadvisor, and recommendation in the Lonely Planet Queensland. Usually, one provider responsible or (given) one area of reef, so that other provider can bring the mass to another reef. That way, it’s not too crowded in a certain area.

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Few of many Great Barrier Reef Tour Provider (price as per seen in their website dated October 15th 2015, for more information, visit their website).

So, here are things you may want to consider when choosing the boat/provider:

  1. Where do they go. If you know what reef do you want to go (hasting reef, etc), then it’s easier for you to choose, because usually one reef is visited by one agent. Or if you want to go to Green Island, you can google what tours going to that island.
  2. What activities they offer. This was pretty much my case. Since I don’t want put off my glasses off, I choose provider that offer activities such as Scuba doo (it’s like scooter underwater) or seawalker (helmet diving; where you put a giant helmet so your head keep dry). And that makes me easier to narrow down between the five.
  3. Price. Last but not least, price. Most Tour Boat includes 5 hours in the reef, departs around 8 and finish around 5. They also include snorkeling gear and diving suits. What you have to pay-extra is if you do other activities such as scuba diving, helicopter flights, Scuba-doo Scooter, and Guided snorkel tour. So the more optional activities you take, the more you have to pay.

In the table above, the scuba diving introductory may somewhat looks that there’s such a huge gap. But it’s not. It depends om how many dives do they offer. Those in range $70-75$ usually offer 1 time dive. You may need to check with each provider, visit the website or email them for more detailed price, exclusion, and or inclusion.

What to prepare:

  1. Of course, sun screen
  2. Swim suit
  3. Towel, and a pair of change
  4. Flip flop
  5. $$$
  6. Waterproof camera (although some also rent underwater camera with some fee)
  7. Your selfie smile J and a healthy mind and soul

My adventure on Green land and Outer Barrier Reef

Since me and my friend, Melina opted to have helmet diving (which only provided by Great Adventure and Sunlover), our option finally down to Great Adventure that we booked via our accommodation in Traveller Oasis.

​The helmet walking is not an activity that offered during a regular visit to reef, because we must protect the reef and not allowed to step on it. That is why it’s only available in Green Island. It’s basically just an island with flat bottom. After the Green Island, then we continued our journey to Outer Reef. This is where other activities such as Scuba Diving, Scuba-doo scooter and snorkeling are offered.

We headed to the harbor to check in in Great Adventure counter. In the check-in hall, there were many other Tour’s desk. So if you can’t book it online, in cairns you still have a chance to visit the tour’s desk (but mind you, there’s a chance that you may run out of space if you book close to the departing day, especially on the holiday season).

So, our first stop was Green Island. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I’m about to bring up about girly thing (ALERT!!) so if you don’t want to know about it, just pass to next paragraph. START: That day, my period almost got over. So as a visitor of the Sea Kingdom, I (think) it was natural and instinctively normal to think about: “Could shark hunt me down when I’m on my period?”. And I started to google it, and turned out I WAS NOT ALONE. There were so many questions surround Period VS Shark (no kidding!!). And long story short there are several points I can summarize from the articles that I read:

  • The deeper we get, the higher the pressure and usually the stream of the blood got slowed down
  • There are many products such as mooncup that can protect you from blood permeation
  • Last but not least (but the most relieving), it is said that the amount of the blood that we have during our period is insignificant enough to attract the shark

Although: I’m not sure if there’s shark in Great Barrier Reef. But still – it’s normal to think about that, isn’t it?

Anyway…soon as I suited up for my Helmet diving, my wariness was replaced by the depth of the water, not that I can’t swim. But somehow the way the instructor teach us and warn us about things (which of course we should careful about it) didn’t make me any calmer. Every inches down to the bottom, you need to swallow so your ear can pop and adjust to the water. So slowly and slowly I went down. The helmet that I wore was literally heavy. But when I was in, it was weightless (of course).

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Preparation before going underwater (photo courtesy by: Great Adventure)

There were 6 people underwater including me, plus two instructor, and one photographer. When we were actually touch the bottom of the sea, we were told to kneel down. And that was when the guide pull out the fish food and immediately all these beautiful fishes came out and swim around us. (I didn’t even know what kind of fish is that, gees!! Should I went back there ?). It was the first underwater experience for me and I was totally mesmerized.

Above the ground’s scenery is of course stunning, but underground is something else. When you’re under, you’re just a guest, a visitor of a different world and it’s just amazing (somehow man-made swimming pool is NOT a comparison at all). The chilly water, the stream of the water, the darkness, the sound of your breath underneath, and the fishes were just making me feel out of place, alien.

My fear was soon overcome again by astonishment and happiness. It was just WOW. That was why my underwater photos taken by the photographer were mostly showing me dropping my jaw and eyes not looking to the camera (but still looking pretty, of course;)). Snorkeling and swimming was one thing, but diving (in this case helmet diving) was another. If you want to go to another world, go dive! Or Skydive 😀

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Me with Melina, before we were on board
Underwater World First Encounter: October 24th, 2014
Asana Kusnadi
I'm Asana Kusnadi from Semarang Indonesia. Some of my friends call me Mei, it is taken from my Chinese Name. I was born in Semarang, capital city of Central Java and lived there until I graduated from University. After graduated i worked in Sumatera island and it's been almost 9 years now i live in Riau Province

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