Trip Report – Hannah James

The Diving

I’m going to start with the part of this trip that I enjoyed the most – the diving! I had never dived before and opted to be the last one of the group to try it. I was pretty excited to give it a try although I knew I could possibly freak out once I was in the water. We got loaded up with our gear on the deck and were talked through all the equipment and how to use it properly, how to empty our snorkel mask if it filled with water and how to use the breathing apparatus properly. It all seemed pretty simple the way they explained it. This boat had one crew member to two divers, so I felt pretty safe and that we would be looked after. They were obviously very experienced divers and I felt safe putting my life I their hands (so to say).

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The girl that was going to dive with me decided it wasn’t for her, so I was very lucky to have a one on one for my first intro dive. Once we’re in the water they guide you down by using a rope. I have to admit I was a little scared at this point. Its all well and good to go through all the safety precautions on the deck but now we’re about to go to the bottom of the ocean and it’s fair to say I was freaking out just a little bit. So I’m being guided down this rope very slowly about an arm’s length each time. Each time we stop, the instructor makes sure that Im okay (by signalling) and only then would we move down further. I had a bit of a sore ear but after blowing air through my nose, moving my jaw side to side and swallowing as instructed I was fine to go a bit deeper. I had to do this process every time we moved down and my dive instructor was very patient with me which really put me at ease. At about three quarters of my way down the rope I started to panic. I kept forgetting to breathe through my mouth and not my nose then freaked out what would happen if I couldn’t breathe. I signalled to my instructor that I wanted to go back up to the boat. I couldn’t do it. He signalled to me that we were almost there and was I sure? We hung out at that spot until I was comfortable to let go of the rope. And OH MY GOD I’m so glad I did! Once I got used to breathing through my mouth it was absolutely amazing. I honestly struggle to find the words to describe it because it is like nothing else I have ever experienced. I was left speechless once I got out of the water, I was just in awe. It’s like an underwater wonderland. Just beautiful. I felt very safe in the hands of my instructor as he guided me around this underwater world. You are literally attached to your dive instructor the whole time (arms linked) as you are given a tour of the beautiful reef. (I told both my older brothers this as they are too scared to dive, haha.) He checked in with me every few minutes to make sure that I was okay, my ears were okay and all the dials and stuff were all good. I felt very safe and comfortable.

Cod

The Crew

I did this trip solo. There were a few other people who were solo travellers but as soon as we got on the boat I felt as though the crew were old friends we hadn’t seen for a while. They were very welcoming and friendly as we sat among people we didn’t know. I felt that this really set the tone for the trip and made us feel at ease on a boat full of strangers. The crew were super friendly and happy to answer any questions we had about diving and the reef and were very informative. They’d obviously been doing this a while. I really love that the crew went that extra mile to get to know the passengers. They could have easily drawn the line at their duties and not interacted with us any more than they needed to. But they seemed genuinely interested in chatting with us and seemed to really enjoy their job as much as we enjoyed the trip. It was a really great atmosphere all round. The Food There was always plenty of food on offer. Tea, coffee, cookies, fruit and muesli bars were always on hand if we wanted a snack but I found we were fed adequately throughout the trip. Meals were #homecooked and always plentiful which is great because you really work up an appetite with all that swimming. Snacks of fruit platters or chips and dip were provided between main meals which was really great. I was a little worried about going hungry with someone else providing our food but there was always more than enough food provided. Thanks Will for all your cooking!

Skipper Jan

The Rest

Not long after we boarded we were shown around the boat and how everything works. We were then given the run down on safety in snorkelling. The crew were sensitive to us getting a little seasick and directed us to what I call “the magic spot” on the boat where you feel better as soon as you sit there. We had air con adjacent to our cabins which made for a comfortable sleep. We stopped at 4 different spots on our trip but we were never made to feel hurried. I felt the crew sort of went with the feel of the passengers which was fantastic.

The whole experience was just incredible. I can’t really fault anything.

Group

 

Moore Reef

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Dive Sites – West Timor, East Timor, 5 ways, Wildside, Devils
Depth – up to 20 meters
Visibility – Up to 20 meters

Moore Reef provides excellent all weather protection and “5 Ways” is arguably Cairns best Swim-through location, guaranteed to have the most experienced diver confused as to which way is North! The Wildside mooring is used when stronger winds swing in from the North and provides classic wall diving, swim-throughs, isolated bommies and all up a good pelagic site.

Thetford Reef

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Dive Site – Lagoon 360
Depth – up to 18 meters
Visibility – 10 to 20 meters

Thetford reef is a large reef with many isolated coral bommies providing intriguing topography and endless landscape to explore.  The area is host to giant clams, vast schools of small reef fish, fans and coral gardens, even the odd rare pygmy seahorse. A very safe and popular snorkel/dive location well protected from the weather.

Breaking Patches

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Dive Site – Long Bommie & Paradise Reef
Depth – Up to 25 meters
Visibility – 10 to 20 meters

This mid shelf reef is made up of coral formations which have joined together to create a unique environment. Home to both hard and soft corals, this small reef provides some breathtaking walls and gullies to explore with pelagics flying past and smaller reef fish hiding out on top in the shallows.

Milln Reef

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Dive Sites – The Three Sisters, The Whale, The Edge, Hoffs drop
Depth – up to 36 meters
Visibility – Up to 25+ meters

Milln Reef is our favourite reef. The “Sisters” and the “Whale” are perfect for both newly certified and experienced divers with some spectacular swim-throughs & crevices this reef is home to; schooling fish, an array of nudibranchs, sea turtles, sharks and barracudas. “The Edge” is an exciting drift dive.  “Hoffs Drops” and “Pinnacles” are breath taking wall dives where turtles are often found resting along the shelf or feeding up in the shallows. Just off the wall is where the mighty Pinnacles are found rising from the ocean floor and reaching for the sun. These pinnacles act as fish magnets enshroud with schooling pelagics and colourful schools of reef fish & pretty pink antheas, aswell as our friendly resident reef shark affectionately named ‘Chip’. Milne is an ideal reef for early morning or night dives as it offers both shallow and deep diving opportunities for all levels of experience.

Upolu Cay

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Dive Site – Extacy, Blue Oceanz (NEW MOORING)
Depth – Up to 8 meters
Visibility – up to 15 meters

Upolu is the smallest of the three sand cays located close to Cairns. We hold a rare permit which allows our passengers access the tiny but oh so cute and picture perfect coral cay. This is a great spot to have lunch and enjoy playing in the aqua waters around the cay before returning to Cairns. Snorkelling in the shallows offers a kaleidoscope of colourful coral and reef fish, whilst the diving offers a relaxing exploration for some of the more criptic reef residents such as eels, lagoon rays and some larger cod.

Michaelmas Reef

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Dive Site – Coral Bay (NEW MOORING)
Depth – Up to 14 meters
Visibility – 10 to 15 meters

The largest of three sand coral cays in the Cairns area, Michaelmas Cay is a National Park and home to over 20,000 roosting seabirds. Rated one of the 8 most important seabird rookeries on the Great Barrier Reef, Michaelmas Cay offers excellent snorkelling, great weather protection and is a perfect location to tie up overnight. Marine turtles, stingrays and baby sharks are common. This is a NEW site and offers untouched and pristine coral delights.

Norman Reef

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Dive Sites – Shark Mountain, Alans Wall
Depth – Up to 28 meters
Visibility – Up to 25+ meters

Cairns most Northern outer reef situated on the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Norman offers great visibility and marine life. Expect to see small reef sharks, friendly Maori Wrasse and turtles. Great coral cover.

Hastings Reef

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Dives Sites – Split Bommie, Middle Hastings
Depth – Up to 20 meters
Visibility – up to 25 meters

The south section of Hastings Reef is one of Cairns most popular reefs. It is home to many coral gardens, starfish, clownfish, butterfly fish and staghorn coral patches. Hastings is well protected from the weather and offers a variety of snorkelling and diving experiences for all levels. At Middle Hastings, a range of excellent bommies can be found, including “the Alps” and “Swiss Cheese” and the wall diving will delight the divers and excite the snorkelers.

Flynn Reef

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Dive Site – Little Tracy & Point Break
Depth – up to 28 meters
Visibility – up to 25+ meters

Flynn Reef is one of Cairns outermost reefs. Expect excellent visibility, cuttlefish, squid, eels, reef fish & large pelagic fish. Little Tracy is positioned between two large bommies, offering deep diving on one side and shallow on the other. This is one of Cairns premier diving/snorkelling reefs.