We reluctantly said good bye to our beloved Sydney and flew to Cairns in tropical North Queensland located at the very tip top of Australia. Our good friends had heartily recommended a unique eco resort called the Thala Beach Lodge which is located between Cairns (where the airport is) and Port Douglas. Port Douglas is a relatively small, adorable, little town nestled right near the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system.
My girlfriend Kathy explained how the rooms were located in “tree houses” and the views of the rainforest and the ocean were spectacular. I knew that this part of the trip may be a little risky, since I am married to the quintessential “city slicker”. He much prefers the urban jungle to the tropical one we were about to sleep in. I was very intrigued by the resort and therefore convinced myself that we would be just fine and would keep the doors to our room closed tightly! Ha!
But we were in the middle of the jungle for heaven’s sakes, there are creatures everywhere! I just prayed they would stay away from Craig! We arrived at the resort to see the lovely open air lobby with a beautiful, grand stairway, several tropical swimming pools and heart-stopping views of the ocean and rainforest. As we were walking to the treehouse guest house, Craig asked the bellman if there were any snakes nearby… (duh, of course there are) and he answered, “Only the 8 foot python we saw the other day”. I immediately feared that 30 years of marriage was flying out the window and Craig was not a happy camper.
Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef
Good news!… Craig survived the jungle, wasn’t mad at me, enjoyed the views and was really looking forward to our all day snorkeling adventure! Wavelength sent a courtesy coach to take us to the lovely marina in nearby Port Douglas. We were then whisked away by the friendliest and most accommodating crew we could have ever hoped for! There were about 25 enthusiastic snorkelers and a small crew including a marine biologist! It takes about 90 minutes to reach the continental shelf (we went really far out there). Interesting fun fact: Although we were about 100 miles out in the middle of the ocean, it was shallow enough that we could see the bottom! We were all outfitted with impressive snorkel gear and our fashionable, but necessary stinger suits. The crew offered breakfast, lunch and afternoon “tea” for the journey back. It was a complete package!
The captain decides where to stop based upon the conditions of the day. A very capable,(blond and pretty too!) marine biologist accompanied our group to help the snorkelers discover aspects of the site that might have been easily missed by us! She led us to an area and we snorkeled about and she would point out the variety of sea life and creatures we were observing! There are very strict guidelines on what can be touched to protect the integrity of the reef and she made sure we adhered to those rules. We traveled to three different sites throughout the day with helpful rest breaks in between. We came home completely exhausted, but so grateful to have witnessed such a miracle of nature.
23 thoughts on “Next stop: Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef”
These are just from snorkeling!!!??? Amazing photos and amazing sights! I have not yet been on the Great Barrier Reef, but I need to go!
Yes Tam! They cannot compete with your scuba photos, but it sure was a remarkable view! So beautiful in shallow water! Australia is a DO NOT MISS!
Your underwater pictures are fabulous. It all looks so beautiful. I’m uncomfortable in water I cannot stand up in and easily panic, so snorkeling isn’t something I do, but I am envious of the experience you had.
Donna: Often times we all live vicariously through others! Thank you for your comments and for reading!
What an incredible “bucket list” experience!
Thank you ! The list is long isn’t it??
I love the photo of you two together! Underwater photography and visiting the GBR are some very big goals for my future 🙂 Fabulous photos and post.
Thank you so much! The crazy thing is that we only scratched the surface of that magnificent country! Start planning! Thank you for the comments!
What a terrific adventure and beautiful photos. I love snorkeling and the Great Barrier Reef is high on my bucket list. I think your post just moved it up a few more notches!
Thank you so much for your comments! You want to get to the Great Barrier reef as quick as you can, it dies off a little every year. So sad.
Australia is a huge country and you certainly seem to have picked some real highlights –
Your photos of the Reef are fantastic – and to have been viewed just by snorkling – it really is a great wonder of the world.
Love your Cairns accommodation choice – One doesn’t usually think of rainforest when one thinks of Australia – so a very special experience 🙂
Australia is HUGE! You could travel there many times and never see the same thing twice! Thank you for the compliments! I couldn’t believe we could be 100 miles out and see the bottom!
The area around Cairns is one of the corners of Australia we have yet to visit. I hope I can conquer my snorkeling phobia before we get there. The underwater photos you took on your snorkeling adventure to the Great Barrier Reef are wonderful—-definitely, “you are there” photography.
I understand the snorkeling phobia – any fear that I had, was worth facing to be there! Thank you for reading!
We’ve been meaning to visit Queensland for years now! So funny – we had hit on Thala Beach Lodge too when we originally planned to go… One day!
Great minds thing alike! This is a very big world, so many places to see! It gets more difficult to choose the more I learn from other bloggers!
I loved this post! My sister and I are avid snorkelers and although we went to Ningaloo Reef in Australia and loved it because it’s very undeveloped and you can snorkel from shore, we still would like to get to The Great Barrier Reef. Your underwater photos are fabulous and I know how hard those are to get! We’ve heard that a lot of the reefs in The Great Barrier Reef are no longer healthy but this seems to show otherwise. Did you happen to hear anything about that? I want to pack my gear (which makes me look as lovely as yours does for you) and go this afternoon!
Thank you for your thoughtful comments! We did learn that the Great Barrier Reef is slowly dying and that it may be gone in 25 years. We have never been there so we don’t know what it used to look like. I would travel there as soon as you can!
What a great hotel! And I love your underwater photos. Thanks.
Thank you Carole!
The reefs look so pristine and untouched. I love how steady the camera was while snapping a shot of the shark. Beautiful lighting on all the fish and coral.
I want to be an empty nester like you and Craig! But Robbie no snakes or bugs he’s out! Lol
Wendy: Just pick some locations without the creatures!