The Great Barrier Reef…world’s biggest reef, home of Finding Nemo and many divers’ dream (and so was mine). You can imagine I was really happy when I found out I got to do two reef trips including two dives on each! Ocean Freedom owns two boats; one cruiseship (OceanFreedom) and one sailboat (OceanFree).
My first trip to the reef was on the cruise. When I checked in, a surprise awaited me: an underwater camera was available for me to make stunning pictures! When I entered the boat there was a warm welcome by the crew and the morning started with Danish pastries and coffee or tea. It had rained in Cairns for the last two weeks, but (of course!) when I did my boattrip the sun was out! So I enjoyed sitting on the spacious deck and couldn’t wait to enter the famous Great Barrier Reef.
After approximately 1,5 hour we arrived at Opulu Cay as the first boat, so we were the only one there. Here my first dive took place and it was absolutely outstanding! I was the only certified diver so I got a private instructor that took me to the best sites. When you have dived before, you will know there is a complete different world under the surface of the ocean and diving in the Great Barrier Reef just makes this world even more beautiful. It was a dream come true for me and I certainly recommend you do dive here! There was also a glassboat with a guide who tells you everything about the reef if you are not so keen about going in the water.
After diving and snorkelling we had a great seafood lunch and there was plenty, so we all went twice to the buffet. It actually was my best lunch in Australia so far, with shrimps, smoked salmon, salads, chicken, just delicious! After lunch I did my second dive in the same area but we looked at different reefs. I saw a turtle, stingrays, clownfish, trumpetfish and many more. When I got back on the boat we went to Cay Reef, a perfect reef for snorkelling and introdiving because it is really shallow. I wanted to do I third dive here, and lucky as I am I got this one for free too! This reef is so beautiful and you have plenty of time to look at the fish because you can sit down on the sand to take a close look. It is really unspoiled and amazing, I just loved to dive here!
After some snorkelling again it was time to head back to Cairns, I found my spot in the sun and felt like a princess on the cruiseship. The crew really looked after everybody very well and the boat has all the comfort you need. There is great food throughout the day and visiting the Great Barrier Reef is perfect on this boat!
My second trip to the reef took place a week later with the Ocean Free sailboat. This boat is a lot smaller and –as the name indicates- has sails. It tends to attract more backpackers because it is cheaper than the cruise, but also families and couples are on this boat. This time we are going to visit Green Island, a resort island in the middle of the Great Barrier reef with also dive and snorkel opportunities. For breakfast there were muffins and coffee/tea and again, the crew was really friendly.
This time there was one other certified diver besides me so we got to dive with three people at the Pinnacles Reef. (I stayed down longer though because the other one run out of air quicker). Unfortunately the visibility was not very good this time and we had to stay really close to not loose eachother. Still a great dive though! When we came up we enjoyed another great lunch and sharks visited us around the boat. After lunch we were dropped off at Green Island to enjoy the sun and swimming in the ocean. My second dive was short, because I was too late to get back from the island, but the visibility was less than 1 meter so 20 minutes of diving was enough.
On our way back the skipper raised the sails and we got to sail back the whole way! An unique experience because you can really enjoy the Great Barrier Reef without motorsounds and the boat turned almost completely on its side so we had to hold on tight. With my hair in the wind and the sun on my skin I enjoyed a glass of wine (also included) and cheese and cake.
Back on shore the crew was waiting for me with another surprise: A free hoody and free t-shirt + I got to keep the memorycard for the underwaterphotos. Ocean Free(dom) really has proved its professionality and I am sure I explored the reef with one of the best boats out there! I look back on these trips and actually feel homesick, I really felt much appreciated (like all the customers) and had two lovely days in Cairns. I know I mentioned highlight in my blogs a lot already, but the OceanFreedom reef trips really made it to my highlights of the Eastcoast!
More Great Barrier Reef Tours at www.peterpans.com