We knew a visit to Tropical North Queensland would not be complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the world’s largest coral reef with vast amounts of exotic fish and colorful marine life. Our first ten days in Palm Cove were spent acquainting ourselves with the area and recovering from a bad bout of food poisoning… presumably from an airplane meal. Ugh. We also had to learn the ropes of caring for a young puppy and protocol if a cyclone hits. With all this behind us we finally had the perfect day to experience a day on the reef.
A bus collected us from our home in Palm Cove and drove us 25 miles south to the Cairns Marina. From here we boarded a catamaran with other passengers and sailed 26 miles off the coast to Michaelmas Cay National Park. It was a two-hour ride and rather bumpy but Stephen and I found seats on the deck with the wind at our back and a beautiful view. A thirty minute orientation informed us of reef etiquette as well as hazards and then we received all gear necessary for a day of snorkeling. Besides fins, mask and snorkel we were given a full-body Lycra suit to protect from stingers. The stingers are life threatening jelly fish that inhabit the tropical waters during the summer season. We were glad to have the Lycra suit not only for sting protection but also from the strong UV rays.
Stephen and I collected all our gear and were ready to explore as soon as the boat anchored. We discovered it takes some coordination to maneuver with fins, snorkel and a mask but with trial and error we figured out a rhythm. The beauty below the surface was astonishing. There were fish of all colors and coral in every size and shape. It was like swimming in a gigantic aquarium and every where we turned there was amazing beauty. Fish, turtles, and coral were at our fingertips….we had a front row seat and it was a spectacular show.
Our little condo in Palm Cove is just steps from the beach.
We walk along the shore several times per day with Carmen the nine month old puppy. She is a bundle of energy and needs a LOT of potty breaks. Tropical living is a new experience. We’re enjoying the warm weather, the daily rain showers and the beautiful sunrises. We’re also discovering a few drawbacks and heeding the warning signs posted up and down the beach.
We haven’t set eyes on a crocodile yet and just like the grizzly bears… I’d prefer not to have a run-in with one of these critters.