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Yes, You Can Have an Amazing Day Out On The Great Barrier Reef In The Rain!
Posted on March 11, 2016 by Sophie Tabouel
Cairns tropical climate is a bit unpredictable at times but as a local I know better and will assure you that it will not stop you from enjoying a day out on the reef.
My Great Barrier Reef trip was scheduled on a day when tropical ex-cyclone Winston was still influencing the coastal waters off Cairns and bringing along heavy monsoonal rainfall. But we are going to get wet anyway-right? Besides, tropical rain is nice and warm and the clouds will keep you from getting sunburnt and it never last very long anyway.
Bread Goes Flying on Green Island
In my job as a Cairns & Great Barrier Reef Destination Specialist, I am lucky enough to spend my leisure time as a guest experiencing all of the day tours and attractions in the region and today I have been invited to experience the very popular 2 in 1 Great Barrier Reef tour combination that gives you 2 hours on Green Island and then 3 hours on the outer edges of the reef on the Great Adventures Moore Reef platform. I chose this reef tour because when I finally find time to spend a day on the reef I want to see and experience as much of it as possible. It is also my job as a Tour Specialist to know all the differences and little details between all tours in Cairns region.
As we departed for our journey, which only takes 45 minutes to reach beautiful Green Island, when the rain started to get heavier. The colours in the water and in the sky were looking awesome; the water around this lush tropical island was bright and turquoise but the clouds above it were dark and threatening.
Then a sudden gust of wind blew a bag of bread rolls into the ocean from the catering trolley that just got off the transfer vessel, leaving the trolley driver scratching his head how he should retrieve the precious goodies. Although curious, I did not stay back long enough to see if the bread got rescued before the fish below have the opportunistic meal of the day.
Snorkel or Pat a Baby Crocodile- That’s the Question!
Some of our 7 people famil group opted for snorkelling in the tropical rain; I decided to focus on crocodile feeding in Marineland Melanesia because I know that I will have the chance to do plenty of snorkelling later on the outer Barrier Reef coral gardens.
Marineland Melanesia offers excellent wet weather activities whilst some people are parasailing and doing Seawalker helmet dives and nobody seems to be bothered by Mother Nature’s tricks.
Marineland Melanesia is this mystical wildlife park decorated with thousands of Polynesian and Papua New-Guinean wood artefacts. There is a small aquarium and a gallery of gore which displays all those incredible newspaper articles and pictures of crocodile attacks around the world. You will also see about 5 huge crocodiles being fed and learn a lot about these menacing pre-historical beasts.
But there is something else that I have been looking forward to do: hold a baby crocodile… Although she is looking all tough and mean she is very soft and cuddly to touch. I will get some great photos of me and a crocodile girl – time well spent!
Outer Reef – Here We Come!
2 hours on Green Island is up before we know it and at about 11:20am it is time to hop on our big vessel Reef King to travel another 50 minutes to the outer barrier reef. There are plenty of seats to choose from and having a sweet tooth I indulge what seems like a mountain of complimentary carrot and mud cakes on the way.
For those who decide to do introductory or certified scuba diving, briefing takes place by their instructor on the way to the platform.
When we arrive at the pontoon on beautiful Moore reef by 12:20pm our first job is to choose where to start: take the semi-submersible submarine tour, go snorkelling or check out the underwater observatory. I choose to take a walk in the underwater observatory as it is the first time for me to see one.
It is kind of like a huge aquarium but way cooler because fish and marine creatures are changing constantly. I see giant trevallies, huge Maori wrasse’s, damsel fish, clownfish, jellyfish, giant clams and so much more. You can also see the introductory divers and people who are powering past on their Scuba Doo underwater scooters.
Moderation has Never Been the Virtue of Mine
At 1:00pm there is a big buffet lunch being served for the hungry ones with choices of delicious potato bake, pasta salad, beef and chicken curries, rice, different cold meat cuts, bread and garden salad varieties. Tea, coffee and cakes are also offered for a dessert.
As I am not holding back with food I decide to take the semi-submersible submarine tour next to settle down my stomach contents.
Relaxing and informative the semi-submarine tour is offering amazing views to the reef and surrounding marine life. I spot 2 sea turtles within first 10 minutes into our tour and the coral gardens are just breathtaking everywhere I look. I could spend several hours down in the semi-submarine just admiring my surroundings. Great Adventures has got a unique semi-submersible submarine where you can walk around easily and have 360 degree views to the reef.
Snorkelling, Scenic Helicopter Flights and Diving- All Equally Popular
There is so much else to do!!! Once back on the platform I still have plenty of time to jump in to snorkel and get some more one-on-one time with big blue Maori Wrasses Wally and Wendy.
It is amazing that these fish are not scared of me at all, if anything, appearing as curious about me as I am about them and eager for a pat and photo bomb.
Scenic helicopter flights are popular, many people scuba-dive and also take the advantage of Scuba-Doo underwater scooters. You don’t even have to know how to swim to ride a scooter 6 meters under water, close to the ocean floor.
Bye, Bye Wally and Wendy
At 3:20pm we were given a signal by boat horn that it is time to say goodbye to our playful fishy friends Wally, Wendy and all the sea turtles we encountered today and head back towards the boat which will take us back to Green Island to deliver and pick up other island guests. This time only for a short 10 minute stop to pick up some more passengers and take them back to Cairns with us.
We might not have had the best of weather that Tropical North Queensland normally has on offer but it didn’t matter because the only thing we couldn’t do was sunbaking and that is not a great loss as you can do it back at your hotel by the pool or in a park but there is only few places where you can experience the wonders of Great Barrier Reef.
Author: Helen – A Cairns Destination Tour Specialist
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