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A brightly coloured coral reef with fish

Sophie's Great Barrier Reef Experience

By Gap 360

Last updated: 15th April 2013

Hi everybody, it's Sophie from Gap 360 here! We're just travelling around Northern Australia at the moment- and last week we went to the Great Barrier Reef!

Greenpeace has sternly stated ‘the next generation may never experience the majesty and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, which is under threat from warmer seas and ocean acidity’- In translation, if you want to see one of nature’s greatest triumphs and the worlds largest organism (which, along with the Great Wall of China is the only thing you can see from space!) then the advice from the experts (and me included) is to GET THERE NOW!

Cairns is a small town, which is built up with millions, upon millions of hotels, apartments and hostels. The whole town feeds thousands of visitors who, each day, visit the reef aboard a number of carriers. Even the numbers of companies you can choose to go on the reef with is mind boggling! We ended up going with a company called Reef Experience, purely because they gave you a free scuba dive- whether you are a certified diver or not! So after some desperate calling to my mother at 2am to find my PADI number, I was with a group of certified divers, all kitted up and about to head down to a depth of 12 metres- for free! Here, we saw clams of gigantic proportions, our instructor fed a passing turtle, whose slimey shell I touched, and I am pleased to report that Nemo hasn’t wondered off again, wahay!

After a 40 minute dive, you were given the option to go snorkelling (which I did but it felt a slight anticlimax after seeing the wonders which we saw at the greater depths) and then I headed on a glass bottomed boat, where we saw more turtles feeding! Apparently the day before the ship had 100 whales come up to it- how jealous was I that I wasn’t on that ship?!

After the most INCREDIBLE lunch (they keep you well fed on this boat!) we were given the option to sign up to another dive for $45- an absolute bargain to any divers who know the costs associated with dives. This second dive was even more magical than the first, seeing great coral structures, holding a sea cucumber that stuck to your skin, sticking my hand in a clasping clam and seeing a fish that was bigger than me, before I was met with a glass of wine, and a selection of cheese, crackers and fruit upon my arrival on the vessel! The perfect end to the most amazing day.

If I was heading back out on to the reef, I would definitely head back with The Reef Experience, as it gives you the best of all three worlds; diving, snorkelling and glass bottomed boats, not to mention the food onboard was scrummy and all the instructors were brilliant.  If you'd like to get a PADI for yourself, Gap 360 have a dive school in the GBR too which is fab for first time divers.

This has been one of my favourite adventures on this trip so far, so I would definitely rush to do the Great Barrier Reef while it is still in all its glory! 

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