You simply cannot go to the Great Barrier Reef without putting on a snorkel or a Scuba tank.
The beauty on the surface is incredible but underneath the surface of the water is where you will discover a different world. No aquarium or movie can prepare you for what can be seen and experienced beneath the surface. Below the choppy waves and salt spray of the surface is a world of calm blue twilight. As you swim along the reef wall with the fish and coral on one side and the deep blue on the other the sensation is what I imagine flying would be like.
I haven’t been snorkelling in a long time and the first time I got in to the water this trip I felt a little claustrophobic with the mask on but after a few moments calming myself and breathing deeply and slowly I began to enjoy myself. I was easily distracted by the schools of fish swimming around me and the dancing light below.
The abundance of life in the water is inspiring. We city boys don’t often get to see just how much life there is out in the wild. Seeing fish and animals in tanks and cages can never compare to seeing them in the wild. The fish it seemed were completely at ease around the splashing humans and were quite happy to come within arms reach.
The first thing you notice are the colours. My GoPro while handy for snaps couldn’t do justice to what I saw. The fish were all colours of the rainbow and beautiful to look at. Great schools of silver swirled around us like tornadoes.
The chance to make my first Scuba dive was one I decided not to pass up. I wasn’t keen on it in the beginning because of my initial discomfort snorkelling. The SMOKING HOT dive instructor and Jay convinced me to give it a go.
The first step was to put all the gear on. Starting with the weight belt and then the tank. The gear is quite heavy on land even after smashing it at the gym for two months it caught me by surprise. The next step is to kneel in the water and get used to the sensation of breathing through the mask. You have to breath more deeply than normal and the claustrophobic feeling came back again but went away quickly and easily as I calmed myself.
Next we sat on the edge of the Pontoon looking out in to the deep blue. You can’t see the bottom and the enveloping blue is scary and exciting all at the same time. Then the instructor takes you by the hand and you swim off the platform.
It is an amazing feeling.
At first there is nothing but blue and a few fish all around. You don’t really know how deep you are but it looks like only a few meters. You breath heavily but slowly calm down as you get used to the sensation. Then slowly out of the blue a buoy appears. Somebody has scratched the word RELAX in to the algae.
Then it gets really awesome.
Those silver things aren’t bubbles, they’re fish. Everywhere around you fish, they swirl and dart around. I felt like a lumbering freight train under the water compared to them as they swam and danced in the current.
Eventually sensing that we were confident and at ease the instructor let go of us and we were free to follow him and explore. He pointed out coral that grabbed at our fingers and others that changed colour when we touched them. We saw fish of every type and colour and went down to a depth of almost 60 ft.
It was the highlight of my trip and an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life. I’m glad that I was convinced to go and it’s just another example of how discomfort is a good indicator that we are on the verge of something new and something that will help us to grow.
A good reminder to push ourselves and experience new things.