26 September 2006

Port Douglas and The Great Great Barrier Reef

Instead of going on the obligatory reef-trip from Cairns we decided to head to a more enjoyable place to be the base of our reef trip namely Port Douglas (Port).

Already the Cook Highway out of Cairns entices one to go further north and Port itself is unlike Cairns truly charming. This charm, however, comes at a price - litterally. The clientelle in Port is less backpakker more executive. Still, there are some hostels; the one we stayed at was Dougie's.

We spent our first afternoon at the 4 mile beach in Port. Although the sand is not that white, the beach is really nice. The only tricky part is the high tidal difference.

The second day in Port we went out on what was probably the most anticipated part of our journey - The Great Barrier Reef. As none of us have any diving experience we chose to take a snorkeling trip. The boat left Port at 8 and we then sailed for 1 and a half hours before reaching the Opal Reef.

The first of 3 diving sites was this pinnacle pertruding the deep water.

It is undescribable how it is to swim right over the potpourri of coloured corals and fish. The fish are swimming around you at an arms length and the you almost hit the corals as you swim over them.

This is Emma with snorkeling gear and a wet-suit to keep her warm. This picture is from the edge of the pinnacle where the sea-floor drops tens of metres.

And here's underwater Daniel!

Little striped fish swimming just below the surface of the water and all around you when you snorkel.

When we ereached the 2nd diving site the tide had already receded and it was no longer possible to swim on top of the shallowest parts of the reef. Instead one could swim around the edges which were sloping gently in to deeper waters. We could swim into small coves where the seafloor is covered with dead coral "rubble" and suddenly you find yourself standing on the sefloor miles from any permanent landmass.

A group of large fish called Redfins patrol the water for tasty small fish. They really look huge when you swim with them under-water.

And here the rarest creature we managed to get a glimpse of - a green sea turtle.

After a lunch on board we plunged into the waters at the 3rd and last diving cite. By now the shallowest parts of the reef were completely free.

A flock of Redfins were cirkling the boat and greeted you as you swam away from the boat.

This entry will be extended soon...

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