A few years ago, I decided to take my open water diving course with a group of friends when the ADEX (Asian Diving Expo) came to town. It was a period of facing our fears – or maybe just my fears, I had trouble doing the mask clearing when I first tried it. Like What? Flooding my mask intentionally did not appeal to me at all. But we did it in the nearby waters of Malaysia and came back happy – ironically the thing I had to do the most was mask clearing because oval face woes.
So a year on, a friend and I were talking about diving and an idea to dive in the Great Barrier Reef took off. Diving in Cairns promised all sorts of fun and adventure! Why ever not? We were going to the Great Barrier Reef!
So we started looking for a dive company! Coincidentally, my colleagues had some back from separate diving trips in the Great Barrier and had great things to say about their dive company – Pro Dive Cairns. So feeling more assured, we booked a 3D2N live-onboard advanced diving certification and paid about 960 AUD per person. A quick check on their website shows that prices have been increasing steadily to account for inflation eeek! so go soon if you plan to go! 🙂
So after a long painful flight with multiple legs to Cairns (my fault for flying Qantas perhaps), I finally landed in the airport. Tired and grumpy because i had left my camera behind on the first flight and discovered it only when boarding my third. But soon, I was checking into Njoy! The best thing about them is that they have shuttle from the airport to where they are so getting in is easy, something i was very thankful for when I finally got in. That was where my friend and I lay our heads to rest that evening after exploring bits of town, with our dive trip 2 days later.
The next day, we did white water rafting in Cairns down Barron River, along with our gear check down at the Pro Dive Store along the side of Grafton & Sheilds street before the actual dive the day after. Check your size for your mask, your fins and your wet suit and then you are on your way as they pack the items allocated to you in a netting bag.
The day we left for the Barrier Reef
The Pro Dive shuttle bus swings by a few hotels and hostels before arriving at the Pro Dive Cairns Store to pick up all the gear. It came to NJoy at 610am for our pick up and we were soon going off to the store after a round of the hotels along the Cairns Esplanade. At the store, a few more gear checks were done and we then split into different buses and headed out to the esplanade where the boat was.
We boarded the boat 20 mins later as we reached the pier. Bags, gears and people were quickly loaded on, with instructions to all meet in the dining area while food and other necessities were loaded up. During that time, we were informed of our sleeping arrangements and also shared briefly our dive experiences and history. Next we were divided into the different groups which were here to dive – open water divers, advanced divers and leisure divers. The instructor for advanced divers was Adam – a really funny personality but at the same time patient and kind when teaching us!
Soon, we were setting off! Everyone ended up sitting outside, wind in our faces as the waters got more rough the further out we got. The boat has brown paper bags placed in slots on the walls so we helped ourselves as we went along. Once you puked out what has been tossing around in your tummy, throw the brown paper bags overboard, since everything is bio-degradable Toilets are all shared as well and found almost everywhere on board so that is not a problem.
When we finally reached the reef, most of us were green in the face but off we went to change into our swimming suits and set suits for Dive 1. Each dive comes after a full briefing session on the upper deck of the terrain, what to look out for and what skills we will be doing that particular dive. For dive 1, it was going to be a leisure dive, just to familiarise everyone with the motion of diving again.
Each dive was amazing. Visibility was clear and we saw many creatures – all kinds of fishes, turtles, reef sharks and corals of all shapes and sizes!
This dive trip was also the first time JH and I were doing a night dive! Everyone was handed torches and at first, jumping into the water was slightly dis-orientating. But with time, it is something you get used to! We tried not to feed too many fishes with our light, as the big fishes hunted small fishes with the help of our torches but we will aided a massive hunting party on every night dive.
The skill dives were done quickly – buoyancy, navigation deep dives and underwater photography dives were done in quick succession, since we had 4 dives a day interspersed by our meals. Meals on board were great with a mixture of both hot and cold food. After dinner times were a time for fun and games in the meal room, just for an hour and a half before the night dives kick in.
At the end, we all took crazy photos on the upper deck! The way back was a bittersweet feeling but don’t disappear once the boat pulls into the pier! That night, everyone gathers for drinks and food at a local pub where everyone has a good time talking that goes into the night! We ended up at a club after that where we most definitely had fun!