My experience snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef was the stuff dreams are made of. I honestly don’t feel this post will do the day justice, but I hate to say “you had to be there” in a travel post. Haha. So, I will do my best to show just how awesome this day was…complete with pretty pictures and videos and some fun tips! And if you find yourself traveling to Cairns to check out The Great Barrier Reef – you’ll definitely want to book the same boat as me. The Evolution and her crew were phenomenal!
But before I get to more on “Evolution,” let’s start off with a video of our day snorkeling, shall we? The video below my husband shot with the GoPro, and it’ll show off some of the pretty fish and coral we were able to see while we were snorkeling!
Apparently, the clam at the end of the video can do some serious damage if you were to have a limb in the way when it shut! Yikes! He was huge! But I really loved all the colorful parrot fish. And the jellyfish made me a bit nervous…but I guess those guys won’t sting you. (You wouldn’t be able to see the ones that do sting because they’re so small.)
And the video was from two separate spots on the reef. Unfortunately, the first spot didn’t have the best visibility because it was storming out that morning. However, by the time we got to our second spot that day – the weather was beauuuuutiful! So, you’re able to see the fish a bit better then. (We were still able to see pretty well at both spots – it just didn’t show up well in the video. Sorry!)
You do have the option to dive or snorkel. I’m quite claustrophobic, so I knew diving wasn’t going to be for me. So, we stuck with snorkeling and had a really nice time! (FYI – You don’t have to be certified to dive, though, if you’re interested.)
There’s no need to worry either if you aren’t the world’s greatest swimmer (like me). “Noodles” and lifejackets are provided, so you can easily float over the reef without any problems. (Also helps so no one accidentally stands on the reef if they get tired.) Face masks and flippers are also provided. Oh, and you can rent “stinger” suits for $10 AUD to prevent getting stung by a jellyfish. January is jellyfish season, so we thought it would be a good idea to rent some. But after talking to the locals that night, it sounds like it really wasn’t necessary – oh well! It prevented me from getting a sunburn at least! Haha.
The 3-day tour I had booked for our trip to Cairns included this day aboard “Evolution.” However, if you’ve been following my Cairns posts, you’ll know I won’t recommend doing that. But have no fear, you can book a day on Evolution right on their website.
And the Great Barrier Reef is over an hour away from Cairns. So, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfy boat with a good crew to get you there! And like I said, “Evolution” and crew were phenomenal. (Shoutout to Kyle – he really went out of his way to make sure our day was awesome. And he even remembered our names, even though there were 160 people on the boat.)
Everything went so smoothly this day! And the boat is brand spakin’ new, too. They just started using her this summer, and she was easily the biggest boat I had seen on the wharf. And everything was soooo clean! I loved it.
And if snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef isn’t enough, you also have the option to buy a helicopter ride over it. It’s pretty cool to see The Great Barrier Reef from above! Check out the views in the video my husband shot below.
The ride we were offered was 10 minutes long, which was fine. However, it was $150 AUD a person. And, in my opinion, that was pretty darn pricey for 10 minutes. If you happen to have $150 AUD burning a hole in your pocket…then the ride is great. But if you’re trying to be frugal on your trip, I wouldn’t say a 10-minute helicopter ride is a must do. You can get some good views of the reef just by walking to the top of Evolution too.
That being said, though, it was my first time in a helicopter…so, I was pretty darn excited! My husband had the honor of sitting in the front by the pilot, as he was the one in charge of filming video and he was the only guy on our ride. Haha.
But I did snap a few photos from my seat in the back!
Food & Refreshments
If you’re like me and knowing you’ll be spending a full day out swimming around…your biggest concern is going to be food and water for the day. But I had nothing to worry about. Evolution had a great spread for lunch (which is included in your price) with BBQed steaks and sausages, grilled fish, cold prawns, all kinds of salads, etc. There was also a place to refill water bottles. (Sorry, I’m terrible at taking photos of food…as I don’t think to take a photo until after I’ve eaten it!) We also had complimentary snacks and wine on the ride back to Cairns.
Oh, and you can buy a beer too…if you want to reward yourself after a hard day of snorkeling! Haha.
Funny story about the shirt I’m wearing too…one of the crew members spotted it and specially cooked me a steak because my shirt said “Team Beef.” Haha. I thought that was great. (I was sponsored by the Wisconsin Beef Council for a marathon I ran a few years ago – that’s the story behind the shirt. Haha.)
Things to Know for Your Trip
Just a few random things to keep in mind too if you’re heading out to The Great Barrier Reef for the day.
*If you’ve never snorkeled before, the first 10-20 minutes will be a bit overwhelming until you get the hang of it. There are tons of people around you initially, and remembering to breathe under water is weird. But once you get the hang of it – you’ll have a great day! Just don’t let those first few minutes discourage you!
*If you’re not sure whether or not you get sea-sick – just take the Dramamine! And be sure to take it before you get on the boat, as you can’t do anything once you’re sick. (Dramamine is preventative – not a cure.) And there were lots of folks barfing on the boat…
*But, if you do start feeling sick just walk outside – you’ll feel a million times better!
*Bring towels. There are no towels for you on the boat – be sure to grab some extras from your hotel.
*You will get burned to a crisp if you don’t cover your skin or wear sunscreen. Trust me, I saw people who forgot the next day and it was BAD. Don’t be that person! Haha.
*There are also crew members fluent in Mandarin on this boat if you have any Mandarin speaking friends looking to book a trip too!
I can’t say enough good things about this day! Seriously, if you’re going to Cairns just book a trip with Evolution, and you’ll have a fabulous time! Click here to check out their website.
Do you like diving or snorkeling? And would a helicopter ride be something you’re interested in? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Oh, and before I let you guys go, I have some really exciting news to share! You may remember me mentioning a while back I have been creating walking tours that feature my travel articles for the app GPSmyCity! So, the travel articles I have written, that are city-specific, are available for download on iTunes via the GPSmyCity app. (Sorry, they’re only available for iOS at this time.) You have the ability to read my travel articles at times when you may not have cell phone reception, as they can be downloaded and read offline. (Great reading material for a plane ride!) You also have the option to upgrade the article for a fee of $1.99 to get all the GPS coordinates and take your own walking tour of the sites, restaurants, museums, etc. I mention in my articles! BUT, for this week only you can get my upgraded article “How to Spend 3 Days in Sydney” for free!
*Click here to download the GPSmyCity app (if you don’t already have it). After clicking on the link, you will be re-directed to iTunes. Please proceed to download the GPSmyCity app on your iOS device. When the app is launched, you will enter the article title in the search bar at the top, “How to Spend 3 Days in Sydney.”
*Once you have downloaded the article, simply click the Upgrade button to upgrade it for FREE. You can get this articles for free from now until Sunday, February 19, anytime after that it will cost you $1.99 to upgrade. Enjoy!
*Also, you can check out two more of my Sydney walking tours that were just released!
“I’m Free Walking Tour of Sydney”
“Watching Sydney’s NYE Fireworks from Mrs Macquaries Point”