The ultimate adventure: The Great Barrier Reef
Just after four days in Port Douglas, Queensland, I feel like I’ve seen a whole new other world, Down Under.
Landed in Cairns on a Monday afternoon, and still needed to get to Port Douglas. There are shuttles that can take you from Cairns to Port Douglas but make sure you time them as when we arrived it would take another two hours for the next shuttle, so our backup was to jump in a taxi, which was faster and a little more pricey but worth it.
We stayed at Peppers Beach Club, which is a nice hotel with a very convenient location near town, close to shops and restaurants. I recommend this hotel because of its location, has a great pool and service was fantastic. It could be pricey but after being in town I figured out everything is a more expensive than Cairns or even Sydney.
The highlight of our trip was for sure the Great Barrier Reef. I didn’t quite know what to expect so that was perfect. The best recommendation is to use GBR Helicopters. They had a tour that included a one hour and a half boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef, spending about four hours there with multiple activities included and then heading back to shore in a 35-min helicopter ride to Port Douglas marina.
Once we got to the Great Barrier Reef they had a platform that was semi-permanent and included activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, submarine tour, and more. It was really well established, we off-boarded our boat and everything on the platform was included, as well as lunch and refreshments.
Go out on the platform and get your wet suit. We were there during their summer months so it’s precaution to wear wet suits that will protect you from the dangerous box jellyfish. It is high season for these invertebrates, between January and April, monsoon season, and it’s definitely better to be protected. I didn’t think about it twice, as I felt much more safer wearing the suit than being exposed to these creatures.
The snorkeling was unbelievable! So many species and the variety of coral and fish under water was just surreal. Like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
Even when you watch videos and movies showcasing the Australian Great Barrier Reef, you can never get the same feeling and colors that are visible under water. A true experience to have in a lifetime, do it.
What we saw there is so hard to describe that I can’t put in words. After reading that there are more than 1,500 species there, more than in the Caribbean with 900 species, I completely understand the diversity that I witnessed there. It was a truly relaxing experience that I’ve never felt before, swimming around the submerged coral reef and seeing so many species for over an hour was like an out-of-this-world experience.
After spending the day at the Quicksilver platform, we were taken to a separate smaller platform on a boat, just two minutes from the main platform. There, we waited for the helicopter to come and get us. Landed on a tiny platform floating above water, we disembarked the boat and boarded the helicopter that fit three to five passengers.
The helicopter took us back to shore by flying above dozens of coral reefs, showing us how they all are connected, more than 2900 reefs that cover over 2400 kilometers on the East Coast of Australia, absolutely amazing. We saw small sharks, turtles, vibrant colors of the color reefs and just thinking of the continental platform that ends there, dividing us from America and hosting the Pacific Ocean in between. This just took millions of years to be created. It gives a big perspective in life for sure.
The next day we stayed at the Peppers Beach Hotel and enjoyed a great hot and humid day by the pool. I must admit that the hotel had the best pool, with a simulated beach with sand and 80+ degree water. Hot day, great way to relax. It was like spending the day in a spa.
Now that we are back in Sydney, I can only think of the great four days that we spent in Port Douglas, getting to see so many extravagant species like bats, crocodiles, jelly fish, kangaroos, sharks, turtles, parrots and so much more, I feel like I’ve experienced life the truly-authentic Aussie way.