The first big thing we did in Cairns was a full day trip to the Great Barrier Reef, at Frankland Islands, to be specific. It was a wonderful time, very interesting and exciting, though the day seemed far too short. The boat ride out to the reef and islands took about 45 minutes, first along a wide river and finally out through the surf and into the ocean. The sea was calm for the entire day.
When we arrived at Frankland Islands and we all offloaded from the boat, our guide went over the schedule for the day (everything is optional), showed us how to use a snorkel, and then took us out into the water for our first look at the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef. She pointed out and named all the different kinds of plants and animals we could see up close and personal. It is AMAZING!!
After a couple hours of snorkeling (It passed all too quickly!), our guide took us around the island and showed us some of the tidal wildlife, shells, and more. It was fascinating seeing all the different animals in the water and the interesting displays the company has set up on the island for our benefit.
Immediately after the guided tour, lunch was served. A buffet of all kinds of fruit, meats and cheeses, and even sea food (surprise) was served, and both Andrew and I went back for seconds. Yummy stuff.
After a bit more snorkeling, it was time to ride in the semi-submersible. In this boat are underwater windows on both sides, with seats in the middle. It is a great way to get an introduction to the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef. However, there was nothing to be seen during this ride that we hadn’t already seen while snorkeling. And while snorkeling, we can dive down to see everything up close. For example, I touched the lips of a giant clam, so that it closed its mouth, and I dove down and looked up close at a sea turtle. So, given the choice again, I think I would pass on a ride in the semi-submersible and spend that time snorkeling some more. Even if it were free (the semi-submersible costs just A$10 in addition to the A$99 for the whole day tour and snorkeling), I think I would prefer to snorkel.
All in all, this was a wonderful day and one of the top highlights of our trip. I would not pass on another opportunity to spend more time exploring the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Unfortunately, this reef is slowly dying and won’t be around forever. If you get an opportunity, do take the time and money to see this amazing place.
Next up is the Kuranda Rain Forest…