on January 19, 2006
The Great Adventures (www.greatadventures.com.au) reef cruise I took offered two options. The first stop was at Green Island, which features snorkeling, beaching, scuba, semi-submersible, helicopter options, etc. This is the option that is best for those who are weak or non-swimmers, etc. It took the boat about 45 minutes to arrive at Green Island. I chose the second stop, 50 more minutes, the outer reef near Moore Island. Everything above was offered here as well, but the boat is moored to a pontoon in the middle of the reef. Total time at the pontoon ended up being just under four hours – but it goes fast.My first view of the reef was aboard the optional helicopter tour. $125 for 10 minutes in the air seems a bit excessive, but having done it, I can’t imagine not seeing the reef this way. The colors are just unbelievable, and you can’t detect the subtle differences from a boat or in the water. Plus, you take off from this teeny floating pontoon. We saw turtles and a shark (our cool female pilot, Jo, said it wasn’t a shark, but a shark cousin, but if it looks like a shark and swims like a shark . . .) Sign up on the boat to assure a time.The second view of the reef was from the semi-submersible (the only time-sensitive activity). Perhaps it’s because I really wanted to hit the snorkeling, but I just wasn’t all that impressed. The windows have a green tint, and I think really distorted what you were seeing. Of course, if you don’t like to swim, this is probably the best way to see the reef. My last activity on the reef was to snorkel. At the outer reef location, you get off the boat in some 30 feet of water, then swim over to the most colorful, most abundant coral reef. The water was a bit choppier than I expected, due to the high winds that day. But I was a strong snorkeler, so I adjusted quickly. I had never seen so many fish in one spot, and in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors. It truly was the best snorkeling I’d seen in my travels. While in the water, I was stung by a jellyfish. A young girl had just died on another beach from a deadly box jellyfish sting, so I was more scared of what got me than anything else. The cute lifeguard – Scott Who Saved My Life – sprayed vinegar on my wrist and knee and told me to get back in the water and avoid the Blue Bottles (like I went looking the first time.)The cost (which was included in my overall tour) for the outer reef adventure was $168 pp, $428 for a family. (Lunch and morning tea included) Great Adventures is Eco Certified (please don’t destroy the reef).You can’t go to Australia and miss this. One of the trip highlights.
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