Hi everyone! Juz here…
My mum came to visit us in Cairns during the Christmas period, and while she was here, she wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef. I was also keen to see the natural wonder so a booking was made with Ocean Spirit Cruises.
The day started early – we needed to be at the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal by around 7:30am to board the catamaran by 8am. We had our bags packed with all the essentials – togs, towels, thongs, tonnes of sunscreen and an underwater camera we hired from a shop in Cairns for $45.
The boat took about two hours to get to our destination, so we did some sunbaking, watched a presentation about the animals that we might see, and we were treated to complementary morning tea. Michaelmas Cay is a small sand island surrounded by reef, about 41km from Cairns. It’s actually a national park and is a protected sanctuary for around 23 species of migrating seabirds like sooty terns and boobies. The boat was anchored about 100 metres from the cay and after a quick fish feeding session, a shuttle boat started to taxi people to the island.
With 4 hours to spend on the reef, we spent as much time as we could in the water, looking at colourful coral and watching the fish. The parrot fish were particularly memorable, especially in big groups – if you held your breath and listened, you could hear their hard beaks crunching away at the coral. Other highlights included seeing a green turtle, giant clams with fluorescent colours and tiny clown fish.
After a few hours of snorkelling, it was time for lunch. We caught the shuttle boat back to the catamaran for a full buffet lunch that included chicken, prawns, ham off the bone, vegetable curry and various salads, and for dessert, there was fruit salad and carrot cake. Everything was absolutely delicious, and due to our severe food coma, we didn’t go back to the island. Instead, we went on a tour of the reef in a semi-submersible coral viewing boat before collapsing in the lounge of the catamaran with no more energy to move.
It was at this point that I realised that I must have been sitting down when I applied sunscreen, because my butt and lower back were burnt to a crisp. The two hour journey back to Cairns was spent on the verge of napping, but we held it together for a complementary glass of sparkling wine.
Once we got back to Cairns, we went to the store where we hired to underwater camera to retrieve our images, which were handed to us on a complementary 4GB SD card.
All in all, it was a fabulous day. Seeing the reef was a humbling experience, especially from within the semi-sub. When you see portions of the reef as big as houses and consider that it stretches for 2,600km and is an ancient platform for an abundance of life, you truly appreciate why it needs to be protected. Ocean Spirit Cruises are a great way to go out and see the reef, but if you can’t afford the $188, there are budget tours for around $99. If you plan to visit any of the towns and cities along the coast that call themselves the ‘Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef’, I highly recommend that you allocate some cash for a day on the water.
Thanks mum! I had a great day on the Reef, and my bum didn’t peel one bit!