Today was our first excursion to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). I had booked a tour with Sailaway cruises as they were a smaller GBR operator. Our cruise set sail at 8:30 AM and we headed toward the Low Isles. The Low Isles are off the coast of Australia. I chose this as our first snorkeling trip as there was always the option to snorkel off the island if one did not want to go further out and I thought Rachel may be too afraid.
The ride to the island took a little more than an hour. While we were cruising it rained about half of the time, but that was ok as you can still snorkel in the rain. On board they warned us not to touch the coral as it could cut you and it could contain dangerous bacteria which could then cause an infection….
Once we got to the island we divided into two groups: beginners and advanced. Neither child had ever been snorkeling before so we chose the beginner. I had a feeling Rachel was not going to do well with snorkeling and I was right. First, she had a cut on one of her toes and as soon as she put the flippers on it hurt her. Then when it was time to float on the water and snorkel she could not do it as she was afraid she would be cut by the coral and have an infection. I suggested to her instead that we could just stay at the island and have a walk around or snorkel from the shore and she was fine with that.
We walked along the beach while Jonas went snorkeling. We saw lots of coral on the beach and could also see it from the beach. The highlight was seeing a very large and dark blue sea star. We also saw two Reef sharks – one from the boat and one from the shore.
Jonas eventually returned from snorkeling with the group and we took a quick tour around the island. Then we headed back to the boat for a lunch buffet and then had another chance to snorkel or go on a glass bottom boat to see the Reef. The kids and I did this and we were able to see many colors of coral. It was very pretty.
After that the boat returned back to shore. According to Jonas I made three new friends on the boat. I spoke to a couple from Melbourne and a lady from Melbourne. We spoke about differences between our countries and we also briefly spoke about American politics. While we rode back Rachel spent the entire ride laying on the front net of the boat. She was very zen like.
Rumors are that the GBR is dieing because of bleaching. The marine biologist on the boat told us that bleaching occurs when temperatures are too warm for about four weeks. However eventually the reefs start to recover from the bleaching.
We arrived back at shore around 3:45. David picked us up from the dock and we returned back to our condo to freshen up. I then took the kids into town to check out Target Country (it was nothing much, more like a department store). Next we headed to the grocery store to pick up some more snacks and beverages for our place. I spotted a pizza place that had gluten free pizzas so we also brought some pizzas back to the rental for an early dinner.
After our day's adventure at the GBR I cancelled our reservation for our tour on Wednesday as there is no way Rachel would have done the snorkeling further out. I had expected that I would need to do this. This is why I had 48 hours between our adventures. I am ok with this as it means we have more time to be leisurely with other activities these next few days.
Unfortunately I was not able to take many pictures during our Reef visit, so here are some pictures at our resort.