Planning to visit the Great Barrier Reef
When I decided to visit the Great Barrier Reef the last summer, I had a lot of expectations and, believe it or not, during a week-long stay they all were met and I enjoyed it even more that I could have imagined. It was a rather good idea that I spent weeks prior to the big trip reading Australia Top 10 Lists online, charting out my stay. A lifetime would not be enough to see and do all you want to in the Great Barrier Reef area – there are approx 2,900 reefs and 900 islands, so you can only see a few on your brief holiday. Of course, there are a large number of professional tour operators who are able to help you on your journey, depending on what you want to see and do. Keep in mind that The Great Barrier Reef is the habitat of many amazing animals and plants, most of which live under the sea, so the visit would be incomplete without a couple of diving plunges.
The Unforgettable Journey
I wanted to go big on my very first day, so I enjoyed my hotel on Hayman Island, relaxing from the flight and the cruise. Chilling in one of the largest swimming pools in the South Pacific, while gazing at the beautiful Coral Sea – not a bad way to start a vacation. The next day, I consulted the tour operators and they offered me dozens of attractive features, such as cruising on a glass bottom boat, visiting underwater observatories, flying over the reef in a helicopter and the opportunity to have a close encounter with fish in touching tanks (underwater petting zoos). I intended on indulging all my senses, so it was an easy choice. All of them!
First stop, the awesome Lizard Island. This is one of the better diving locations in the outer Great Barrier Reef. Diving, however, is not my main thing. I wasn’t about to skip it, but I wanted to rent a well-built deep sea fishing boat, and I did. It was a great feeling, a little wild even. I caught plenty of fish and went snorkeling for a few hours. Though pretty much any place here is good for snorkeling, Palfrey Island and Mermaid Coves are the best, as my own experience showed, so be sure not to miss them! As the hours went by, I realized that there were many more things to see, so I decided to prolong my stay. Lizard Island is too remote to just jump in on a one day adventure.
The next day, I went to the Cod Hole, one of the world’s most famous diving and snorkeling sites, and the main reason the diving here gets such a good rep. And my god! The corals and the multicolored fish, all in very clear water, it all left me breathless. I watch a lot of marine life shows on TV, and this was exactly the experience that you thought you’d have after seeing it on TV. Cod Hole is not just a random spot, it is the sweet deal. I have to mention that at no point did I need to worry about being hungry or thirsty, because the staff of the chartered boat I was on took great care of every visitor. They know how far we went and how much we invested to get here, and they respected that. Top notch crew!
Almost at the end of the day I decided to hike up to Cook’s Look, another place I was craving to visit. This is the spot from which Captain Cook observed the Great Barrier Reef while looking for a way out. Although a really long walk, the absolutely stunning view from the top, especially at sunset, makes it worth all the huffing and puffing. I should have thought better though, hiking after a dive? Optimist much? After enjoying the view and the feeling of serenity it gave me for a while, I went to a nearby restaurant. The people working there were very nice, and the food was indescribable; I will never have shellfish as tasty as those giant prawns.
During my stay at the Great Barrier Reef, all the other places I have ever visited simply faded away (except maybe Prague for New Year’s Eve, nothing ever comes above that). I didn’t reflect and compare, this was exotic, irreplaceable, and most important, it was now, and I was experiencing it in person. A sensory overload, topped off with youthful hype. This was one of my most emotional adventures, not because of some sentiment or romance, but because of the way this isolated little spot engaged me entirely. I am questioning whether I want to go to Lizard Island again though, I fear I may have gotten the best of it, and don’t want to tread all over my own expectations. Maybe, no, definitely in a few decades, when I am older and changed. We will yet meet again, and this time, it might even have romance.
About The Author: Kate Flannery is a freelance designer and part time traveler. She enjoys blogging, crochet, and spicy authentic dishes.
Image Source: Google Commons