February 18th, 2008 by Tiffany Miller
Going on a dive trip to the Great Barrier Reef is just something you have to do if you are in Cairns. There isn’t very much in this city to keep you on land, after all… well, besides perhaps a bad hangover. Snorkelling and diving trips abound; some of them are pricier than others, all of them are worth it. ProDive is one of the most popular companies since they offer high quality and heaps of different trips to choose from. There is also Silver Series, which is excellent but expensive. For real budget trips, Compass has the best prices; the facilities arent as nice, but you still go diving at the same places as the others. Then there is Down Under Dive. They have competitively priced, high quality tours with possibly the best crew of the lot.
You check in at the Reef Fleet Terminal, which is a lot like an airport terminal, bright and early. You pile into the cabin, have lots of coffee and slowly wake up to meet the other passengers and the crew. Two hours later you are swimming with sharks.
You are put into groups of 3 or 4 and taught some basic techniques for the dive, which mainly consists of the ‘OK’ sign, the ‘I have a problem’ sign and the ‘This is awesome’ sign. As guessed, the latter is used the most. It is a bit scary at first, butonce you are down there, you dont want to come up. Almost everyone comes up and yelps “I wanna do it again!” We saw sharks, turtles, giant clams and sea anemone galore. The fish are absolutely brilliant, and the coral sparkles with life. It is something you cannot miss.
Lunch on board is BBQ meats, fish, and salads, with tea and coffee again after that, which nobody takes because they are all jumping back into the water as fast as they can. You have the option of diving again, snorkelling, or just relaxing on the front deck of the boat. By the time they cut the watermelon, you have made new friends and are planning to meet everyone for dinner in the city.
Throughout the journey, the crew is gregarious, helpful, and caring. They really make the trip what it is. On the way home the guys play music and crack jokes, and most of them end up making plans to meet everyone afterward for dinner and drinks. You arrive back into the harbour with that carefree feeling of travel accomplishment, which can be so elusive, and so rewarding.
And that’s just a day trip. Your options are endless, and I have heard some great stories from people who did their dive course while living aboard the boat for a few days. If you have come all this way, and you’re going to get out their, I guess you might as well go all the way.