We arrived in Cairns late Wednesday evening and took a taxi to our hostel. As soon as we arrived and checked in, we snuck into our room trying not to wake our new roomies and got some rest. Thursday morning we woke up, ate some breakfast, and talked to the front office about booking our scuba trip for the following day. We decided to go with a company called TUSA, who did a trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef, and allowed for 3 different scuba dives at 2 locations. The company came highly recommended by our hostel, so we went for it and got that scheduled for departure Friday morning from the wharf that was about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying.
We decided to have a low key day and took the city bus to Trinity Beach, which with frequent stops, etc, took about an hour to get to. Cairns doesn’t really have any beaches to speak of right near the heart of the city, so either way you have to travel about 20-30km to get to a beach. We arrived at Trinity Beach to find pretty much no one there..which was completely fine with us! The beaches in Cairns are not comparable to Sydney beaches, but we are 2 beach loving ladies who are not THAT picky when it comes to sand, sun and water. We relaxed on the beach, got a TON of sun, and once we decided that we were entirely too dehydrated to be in the sun any longer, we walked across the promenade to a lovely beachside cafe and shared a tapas platter, some ice creams and beers.
We went back to the beach for a bit, but decided soon that we had soaked up enough sun for the day…and it was HOT out. The weather here is temps in the 90’s with what feels like 100% humidity! We took the bus back to town, went to Woolworth’s (the local supermarket) and grabbed some dinner supplies (more meats, cheese, carrots, dips and crackers) and went back to the hostel to relax, shower, and have a quiet dinner.
Friday morning we woke up SUPER excited and giddy…because this was the day we had waited for!!! Most people only get to dream of seeing the Great Barrier Reef, yet here we are, lucky enough to be scuba certified and diving the outer reef..which is the part of the reef that has yet to be destroyed by tourists. We got ready, threw on some free sunscreen that a prior had left for anyone to use (we don’t know you, but thanks girl!…sunscreen here is expensive), ate our free breakfast at the hostel (cereal and toast) and walked to the wharf.
We boarded TUSA T6, the boat that would be taking us to the outer reef, and had some brief meetings with the instructors on how the day would go, and went over some of the rules of scuba that I’m sure is a requirement for all scuba diving trips. We were placed into groups, and assigned a dive guide. Our guide was a Japanese guy, who spoke very little English (and had hair like a Lego man..their joke, not ours), but I guess when you’ll be underwater the whole time with them…there is no need to be able to communicate verbally! We were Group #1, so we got to enter the water first each of the three dives. We were initially slightly nervous, just because this was our first real certified dive! Once we hit the water and were told it was time to descend, all of our training kicked in and we were naturals! Our masks never fogged up like we were worried they would (they did while doing our Open Water Certification…but maybe that was nerve related), and we were able to completely enjoy the scenery around us.
We descended down into the coral and saw the most beautiful colored coral and fish imaginable! There were fish with every color of the rainbow on them, small fish, big fish, sweet-lipped fish, tons of schools of fish! We saw a GIGANTIC eel….one that reminded us of Ursala’s eels from the Little Mermaid! It was like a foot in diameter and at least 3 feet long…we didn’t see the end of it as it was hiding out in some coral. But it had TEETH! Big ones! And it kept opening its mouth and showing us it’s teeth…which was scary!! Kerry had her GoPro out filming as we first approached it, then turned the GoPro to Jenny to see if she saw the eel. She clearly could see at once that Jenny had indeed seen the eel, since here eyes were just about bugging out of her head! Jenny is afraid of eels…but was a trooper! We saw some GIANT clams, which opened and closed right in front of us. Our guide pointed out some upside down fish and clownfish and we swam right by a sting-ray and some jellyfish.
After diving twice at the first location (but diving 2 different routes), the boat set off for the second location. We had a lovely lunch provided by TUSA and relaxed in the sun for a bit. Our second dive location was amazing as well! The only thing that we didn’t see that we had hoped for was sharks, but we are certain at some point on a dive in our near future this WILL happen!
As soon as we boarded the boat for the hour and a half ride back to the wharf, we cracked open some beers and chatted with the crew. We enjoyed meeting the guides and getting helpful hints on what to do next, since many of them had traveled to a lot of the places we intend to go! The beers were going down well after an amazing day on the Great Barrier Reef, and we departed from the boat feeling pretty darn fabulous. We stopped by Woolworth’s again to grab a few more things for dinner and then grabbed some beer from the liquor store and headed back to the hostel.
Our roommates hung out in the room with us all evening, and we chatted and drank beers until exhaustion hit. Through our conversations with our roomies, we learned that they had all just graduated from NYU, 2 were from the states and 1 was actually an Aussie living in the states. These girls were so much fun and we realized how small of a world it actually is…one of them (Dre) was starting with Deutsche Bank this coming summer, which is where Jenny worked for over 7 years. Another girl (Ash) was starting with JP Morgan, and would be doing training with Jenny’s cousin in NYC this summer. The last one, Jen, chatted with Kerry and seemed to get some great insight for her future career in UX (user experience), and Kerry gave her some pointers on companies that are good to work for and advice on how to break into that field.
Saturday we woke up feeling extremely lazy (others would call this hungover…) and decided finally around 10:30am to get going for the day. We headed on the city bus to a beach called Palm Cove, which is slightly further than Trinity Beach. We got there excited for a day of sun, but quickly the weather turned rainy….and continued…and continued. The first rain shower that appeared had us running for cover in the cafe that we had decided to go to for lunch. We enjoyed a nice brunch there, with some coffee (Kerry) and beer (both of us), then attempted to head back out to the beach when the rain stopped. We were there approximately 2 minutes before the rain started and eventually we called it a bust and headed back to our hostel to finish up our beers and have dinner. We hung out with our roomies a bit more then hit the sack, as we had a long day of travel ahead of us on Sunday.
The absolute highlight of our trip to Cairns, Australia was most certainly getting to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef! We are not sure how other dives will compare, but we have absolutely caught the scuba bug…we cannot wait to plan our next dive in the VERY near future!! For now, we are in Perth, where we are staying with Kerry’s aunt and uncle for about a week, and also visiting with some of Jenny’s friends who are here on vacation.
~ Jenny & Kerry