A once in a lifetime chance to do see one of the natural wonders of the world. For me, this came about by surprise- jetting off from Sydney airport with expectations of visiting Cairns: swimming, sunbathing and generally dying form the 47 degree heat (and thats no exaggeration, December weather is brutal!). My partner had other plans and to be frank I’m incredibly grateful he did.
We arrived in Edge Hill, the hippest town in Central Cairns (well I think so anyway) and stayed in a beautiful AirBnB– complete with a pool and cutest resident doggo. Our hosts, Broadie and his partner, were welcoming as ever, despite our late arrival and even invited us out one night to explore the city. Of all the AirBnB’s I have stayed in over the last few years, this was definitely the best value for money with the best hosts.
Cairns in itself is lovely place to spend a few days relaxing, though it is a little run down compared to the likes of Byron Bay or Sydney. As a city, it holds that expectancy of sightseeing and luxury cocktail bars, but The Great Barrier Reef is clearly its selling point.
And it is certainly an event worth paying to do. We used Sightseeing Tours Australia to find the cheapest day trip that included a scuba dive. As total novices, who hadn’t even snorkelled before, it was a big leap but a bucket list item that we just had to do. I, myself am not a confident swimmer at all when out of my depth, but the staff made me feel incredible comfortable and made it clear that I didn’t have to do anything that I didn’t want- be it just not snorkelling as far or sit it out and stay on the boat.
For $200+, of course I was going to try and get the full experience though! I had an absolute blast and still look back on my birthday as one of the greatest adventures of all time. People say that excitement lies at the edge of your comfort zone, and as a self-confessed cliche lover, I totally agree!
There are hundreds of tours out there, each of which are totally different, but Sightseeing Tours Australia offer a number of different locations depending on the weather, including Hasting Reef, Breaking Patches, Norman Reef and Saxon Reef. For us, we spent the majority of the time at Hastings, admiring the beautiful corals.
Before we got started though, we were offered a hearty BBQ breakfast with tea and coffee – in true Aussie style. Then it’s anchors away! Of course, they give a full briefing on route and we arrived at the first GBR site around 9:30am. Then it time to get some interesting-looking morph/wetsuits on and start seeing what all the fuss is about!
The tour offers out GoPros and accompanying filters for an additional cost- I think it was around $100 for the two. Usually, I’m not a fan of adding extra costs to a trip but this was a moment I wanted photos to look back on, and paid up. The photos themselves came out well, though needed editing to see the different colours in the reef.
The diving itself was incredible- though incredibly difficult. I had no idea the tanks were so heavy or how strange it is to breathe with assistance. It’s definitely a strange experience, very surreal, but one of those things that you just have to experience. As difficult as I found it, I was given a lot of assistance by the instructors who made me feel completely comfortable. I would 100% do this time and time again- and hopefully it would be much easier!
We got back to the harbour around 4:30. Shattered from the day, we headed back to the AirBnB ready for my birthday meal. Scuba Diving was a once in a lifetime experience, one that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I’d highly recommend using Sightseeing Tours Australia for any trip, should you decide to visit Cairns.