Wanderlust Wednesday: The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

Cairns, QLD, Australia

May 2010

wanderlust wed - CopyMany of you have probably read my other two Australia posts about Sydney and Ayers Rock, but now I felt I should write up a post about the first adventure my dad and I had in the land down under.

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Cairns is the most magical town I’ve ever been to. To most people, it appears to be a grungy beach town, but to me, it represents the greatest experience OF MY LIFE. I know I say that a lot, but this time, I mean it wholeheartedly.

After a 3 hour flight to LA from Dallas, a 14 hour flight to Sydney, and another 3 hours to Cairns, my dad and I were WIPED. The incredible view filling our plane windows definitely refreshed our jetlagged spirits, though!

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We FINALLY arrived!!!! …although our luggage didn’t.

But lack of fresh undies didn’t hold us back from exploring the first afternoon!!

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We walked along the Esplanade boardwalk, bought some Aussie themed swimsuits, and ate dinner at our hotel–first time ever having kangaroo. ALL I CAN SAY: BEST FOOD EVER. TRY IT. It’s like filet mignon but leaner! That night, we crashed hard and our luggage arrived while we slept. And in the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel–best cantaloupe EVER.

While walking to the pier for our reef tour, we heard weird sounds in the trees above our hotel….

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FRUIT BATS! Never in a million years did I think I’d wake up to fruit bats just hanging out among other native fauna. It was so neat!

After gawking at the beauty around us, it was time to head out for the pier to catch ourSunlover Reef Cruiseto head out  for the trip of a lifetime.

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The boat ride was about 1.5 hours–27 miles of pure blue water, random islands, and REEF.

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First thing I did when we docked?

SNORKELED!!

My dad has ear trouble whenever he swims, so he couldn’t snorkel, but he was able to hang out in the wading cage, talk to our hilarious Swiss lifeguard, and be in charge of the camera. Our lifeguard said it was the best weather they’d seen on the reef in AGES. And boy was it ever!

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I couldn’t get over the fact that the Great Barrier Reef was filling the expanse of my goggles. Big fish, small fish, bizarre fish with freaky colors, coral, anemones, starfish, sea cucumbers, and a trench/drop off the height of a large building–it was nothing less of spectacular.

After swimming in what felt like a masterpiece painting, they called us over for lunch. It was a beautiful spread of fresh seafood and chicken. Delicious! After lunch, my dad and I went on a glass bottom boat tour, so he could get some more glimpses of what lurked under the water. The views were fantastic! We even saw a turtle!!

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After the ride, the crew fed some of the fish at the surface while we watched in an underwater viewing space below deck of our boat. TONS of teeny fish and ginormous fish swam by; the flashes of color were phenomenal!

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Even though it felt like the trip lasted 2 seconds, it was time to head back to Cairns. I gotta admit, I was a little choked up seeing the dock station fade into the horizon.

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Pulling back into the harbor, my dad and I reveled in the amazing day we’d just had. It looked like rain, so we were thankful to be back safe and to have had a sunny reef tour. And, to top off the great day, my dad spotted a dolphin right and we saw him leap out of the water! Seeing that dolphin and feeling the breeze on my face made me feel so blessed to have had such an amazing experience. It was the best thing to check off my bucket list, that’s for sure! 🙂

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