Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef is a must-do in Cairns, essentially it is Cairns' bread and butter and therefore there is no reason why you cannot snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in style. The Osprey is Down Under Dive's very impressive vessel, complete with changing rooms and an awesome sundeck for those moments between exploring the most famous reef in the world.
It doesn't matter whether you are a backpacker on your last pennies or a flashpacker treating yourself to a day out on the reef, everyone is able to experience a little bit of luxury on board the Osprey as part of your Great Barrier Reef cruise.
The early start of 7.30am is tough, especially in Cairns with it's liquid form temptations, but worth the effort as you board the boat to be greeted with a much needed coffee and a muffin. There isn't much waiting around with Down Under Dive, the boat is moving before you can sit down and the hour and a half journey out towards one of the seven natural wonders of the world begins.
The staff to passenger ratio on board the Osprey is quite unbelievable, there is someone to talk to literally wherever you turn and Cairns being Cairns, the staff are ready for a laugh and set to help you make the most of your trip. Their banter and jokes give the boat a much needed breath of fresh air. They are shining examples of what happens when you get a daily dose of fresh sea air and you will soon be asking how you can get some of that.
During the trip out towards the reef you have your briefing. Now a briefing is never going to be anybodies highlight to a day but it does pass the time and as the briefing ends the reef is in sight. Time for big excitement, you are about to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Now forget what you hear in the news or from those know-it-alls on the bus, the Great Barrier Reef is not two seconds away from shriveling up and dying and it does offer the best snorkelling and diving on the East Coast of Australia.
One of the cool aspects of the trip is that you can swim amongst the coral for as long or as little as you wish, you can even get out and get back in again, it's casual and relaxed. The first snorkel spot is Saxon Reef with more fish and colours than you will expect. Look out for turtles, rays and the occasional shark but the mass of parrot fish, angel fish, Nemo's and clown fish will keep you fascinated. Once you are officially shriveled up and forcing yourself out of the water it's lunch time and by feast I do mean feast. We are talking Grilled fish, steaks, sausages and an array of salads, who cares if you sink when you next get in to the water, you will sink happy.
The next chance to snorkel or taster dive is at Hastings reef, for me, the better of the two reefs, possibly because I got to swim with turtles and rays and saw a giant purple clam. Simple things maybe but still, not too uncool. It's not easy to explain how magnificent the reef is but it really is quite stunning, it is a seven wonder for a reason and if this amount of marine life are happy to call it home then why shouldn't we love it.
After a good couple of hours exploring Hastings reef and lying in the sun you will definitely feel pleasurably exhausted. You may think that nothing could add to your day and are happy to watch the waves on the trip back to Cairns. However, you will be offered a glass of wine, fruit, cheese and crackers. Heaven, yes I wouldn't be too upset if this was heaven and no joke I very nearly booked on to the trip for the next day. The Reef Cruise with Down Under Dive is the best value for money in Cairns and my favourite aspect of the tour was that you were constantly reminded in many different ways that you were doing something that is more often than not a once in a lifetime experience, swimming and exploring the Great Barrier Reef, which is spectacular so why not revel in it and enjoy every single second of it.
Author: Nomads Cairns.