australia / Backpacking / solotravel / travel / traveladvice

Advice for booking your Great Barrier Reef trip

The Great Barrier Reef, you simply just have to see it if you are in Australia, one of the natural wonders of the world, which unfortunately may not be around forever, due to the crazy rate at which it is being destroyed. The best way to see it is to get underwater, scuba if you can, but if you are anything like me (dodgy ears!) and are unable to then snorkeling ain’t half bad either!

This trip for most people is a once in a lifetime trip, and alls I can say is you get what you pay for, and it is definatley worth researching into where your chosen boat will take you on the reef, how long you will have in each spot and what state the coral is in at that location. Nina and I did none of this, and were purely looking for the cheapest boat and we were quite short on money, Gurps unfortunately could not even afford the cheapest trip so we had to leave her behind for the day. The photos you can see here are from my own experience, and do not reflect the beauty of the pristine areas of the GBR at all!

We booked onto our boat Compass Cruises, I think it was $91 for the full day, which we thought was a fair price. The crew were super friendly, and all pretty young attractive Aussies. The first few hours were spent sunbathing on the deck, until we reached our first snorkel destination, there was the option to dive but both Nina and I opted out of that add-on. I am pretty sad to say that the coral looked dead to me, I’m no expert but it was plain to see that there was barely any colour around, any coral or even that many fish.

We pushed on and hoped that the underwater activity would improve further into the day, we were back on board and had a gorgeous lunch of chicken, hot dogs and salad, so good that we both went up for seconds!

The second snorkel spot was slightly more colourful and there were a few more fish, we followed one of the crew members who dived down and showed us ‘Nemos home’, the bit of coral where clown fish tend to live. Nemo was actually a lot smaller than I imagined he would be! The guide also dove down and brought a sea pineapple up to the surface for us all to see, it was pretty heavy and actually ended up on my head…

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After a bit more snorkeling the lookout woman on the boat was calling everyone back, we panicked that she had spotted a shark, Nina sped off and left me behind carrying the Gopro (cheers mate!), but even with that tied to my wrist I have never swam as fast in my life as I did to get back on that boat! It turned out she was just calling us back because our time had ran out at that particular spot, but I did feel the panic of a potential shark attack and it was not fun!

Our trip also offered the activity of jumping onto a net hooked onto the back of the boat, and holding on for dear life as the boat speeds on. This was crazy fun as you have water gushing onto you, other people on the net falling around and your bikini top deciding to come undone in the gushing water, which obviously only happened to me.

Although overall I did enjoy my day, I don’t think I actually saw much of the reef at all, and I was sad to not see any sharks or turtles. I would love to return back on not such a budget and really see the gorgeous areas. It was obvious that the spots we hit have been overused throughout the years, so much so that it has died out. As you can see from the pictures it really was a shame, we were constantly told by the crew to not touch or stand on the coral, which of course I adhered too, but it was frustrating when you see other people in your group standing on the remaining coral and knocking it with their flippers due to being unable to swim properly or just plain disregard for the environment.

So my advice:

1/ RESEARCH YOUR BOAT

2/ TAKE CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT, DO NOT LITTER OR TOUCH THE CORAL

3/ GET THE BEST EXCURSION THAT YOU CAN AFFORD, IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

 

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