Flying from the cold rainy city of Auckland to the beautiful beaches of Cairns (5.5 hours), all with one goal in mind, visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
Upon arriving in Cairns I made one crucial mistake, I had no idea that Australia was on school holiday. Booking a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef for the three of us (Dad & Brother) was simply out of the question. Luckily after I gave up my dad checked out a booking store and they had one opening for the next morning, starting my first ever solo adventure!
Day 1 – Arrival & Shopping Center 07.03.2016
Arriving in the later afternoon from Auckland there wasn’t too much time to go to the beach after settling into the hotel. We had checked out the city center, did some souvenir shopping, and set up plans for the next day. Our hotel was Pullman Reef Hotel & Casino.
Day 2 – Fitzroy Island 07.04.2016
This was a neat experience, the beach in Cairns wasn’t that nice so it was suggested to us by the concierge to go to Fitzroy Island. This island is filled with fun activities, a water trampoline, standing paddleboards, kayaks, and hiking. The cost to get to Fitzroy Island round trip is AUD 82. The entire coastline of Fitzroy Island is hard dead coral instead of sand, so bring shoes.
Swimming on the Nudey Beach (Top Beach in Australia in 2018) for an hour, not a nude beach. After swimming, we decided to take out the paddle boards for the first time. The neat part about Fitzroy is that there is a lot of active reef around the island so you can take your paddleboard over the reef, people also snorkel and dive here if you’re interested. Also if you want there are a pair of nice Raybands that my brother dropped when using the paddleboard, good luck!
Day 3 – Great Barrier Reef 07.05.2016
My first solo adventure and I was a bit nervous, plus my first time taking a ship out to the open ocean and not being able to see land. Thankfully I did not get seasick. Not realizing the popularity of solo travel, I immediately made friends with a mate name Charlie, who just happened to also be from America. He had moved to Australia for a year for a work traveling visa, and he also is the person that gave me the inspiration to move to New Zealand for a year.
We headed out to Norman Reef to do five hours of snorkeling, my trip was with Divers Den and cost AUD 180 (USD 135). They provide all the equipment you need and even give you a pool noodle so you don’t have to work so hard when you swim. Chances of seeing a sea turtle are high but they move so fast. I saw one and then it was gone. If I was to do this again I would get my diver’s certification, which looked a lot more fun. I was a bit shocked at how bleached some of the reefs was but the fish life was flourishing at the time I went. I also saw a huge clam, which is hard to tell from the GoPro photos, you’ll just have to trust me haha.
Heading back to land Charlie and I met up to check out the casino and I introduced him to Cuban cigars which have become a bit of a tradition when traveling abroad as an American. Lastly, one cool photo, I saw more bats then I have ever seen in my entire life. I went into a shop when the bats started flying around and a half hour later I came out and they were still flying around, neat experience.
Flying out the next morning to end my Oceania trip in Sydney.