Thursday, September 7, 2017

Visiting the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of those places I'd just dream about visiting and never did I think I'd actually get to go here. But when hubby had to go to Cairns Australia for work, we jumped at the chance to go with him since Cairns is basically the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the worlds most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and pulling away from it, and viewing it from a greater distance, you can understand why. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space. (source)

Green Island

The Great Barrier Reef has over 100 islands and there are a number of tour options you can do like the more popular Green Island, Fitzroy Island, or Michaelmas Cay. After researching about it, we decided to just book a day trip to Green Island since it honestly seemed the most tourist friendly with restaurants, shops, and even a pool. Since we were with the kids, we wanted them to be as comfortable as possible. Some would prefer a more "untouched" island and would avoid the touristy places, so it really depends on what you want to do.

Only 45 minutes from Cairns, Green Island is a beautiful 6000 year old coral cay located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, with unique island rainforests, surrounded by white sandy beaches & magnificent coral reefs and abundant marine life. 

aerial view of Green Island

I decided to book via Experience Oz which is where I also booked our theme park tickets when we visited Gold Coast. I booked a whole day tour which leaves Cairns at 8:30am and then departs Green Island at 4:30pm. Travel time to the island is approximately 45 minutes on an air-conditioned fast catamaran cruise. The package also includes a choice of glass bottom boat coral viewing tour OR use of snorkelling equipment, use of island swimming pool and day visitor facilities.

Our hotel was just walking distance to the Reef Fleet Terminal which was super convenient.

There are different companies offering day trips and the one I booked was via Great Adventures. We had to check-in first at the counter to exchange our vouchers for boarding passes. Good thing we got there quite early because the line became long super fast.

that's our boat!

Tea and coffee were served onboard. They also gave free medicine for sea sickness. Hubby drank but I didn't... and I wish I did! The ride was fast and the boat would go up and down when it would hit the waves. The kids loved it and would even lift their arms like it was a rollercoaster! I just closed my eyes and tried to sleep lol! Luckily I didn't puke, but the staff were going around prepared with bags in case anyone wanted to vomit haha! ;p

enjoying the boat ride
we're here!
it was so windy in this part going to the island, probably because we were in the middle of the sea
clear waters
map of the island
ready to explore

There are lots of optional activities offered on Green Island. You can snorkle, scuba dive, walk underwater with helmet diving, semi submarine coral viewing tours, parasailing and scenic helicopter flights. There’s even the Marineland Melanesia Crocodile Habitat with daily crocodile shows.

Included in our package was a choice of glass bottom boat coral viewing tour OR use of snorkelling equipment. Of course we got the glass bottom boat tour which we super enjoyed! It was surreal seeing all the corals and marine life in the Great Barrier Reef! There was even a part where huge fish were jumping on one side of the boat, it was amazing! We just brought our own goggles so just bring your own gear if you plan on snorkelling too. :)

It was funny because me and hubby were joking about sharks. And when we were leaving in the afternoon, we actually saw sharks in this part of the water where people were snorkelling earlier in the day! They weren't great white sharks (I think blacktip?) but still I would have been freaked if I saw one while swimming!

Anyway, we just spent the first few hours just swimming and lounging around in the beach.

Then the kids swam in the pool and we had lunch. Kwento lang, there were these annoying birds hanging around the restaurants probably scavenging for food. And one of them actually flew to our table and tried to grab our fries! Buti na lang we were almost done, kainis!

Green Island is a small (15-hectare) coral cay which can be effortlessly walked around in 20 minutes. The edges of the island are either compacted coral or rather beautiful coral/sand beaches while the interior is predominantly rainforest, home to 126 native plant species and a myriad of birdlife.

We enjoyed walking around the island because it was just so beautiful. Our favorite part was probably in the back of the island which we had almost all to ourselves. It felt like we were in another world and the kids just loved exploring the area. Warning, lots of pictures below! ;p

We had an unforgettable day and I still can't believe we were able to have this incredible experience. The world is really so beautiful and I just want to see more of it!

bye Green Island!

Going back, me and hubby made sure to drink the anti-sea sickness medicine. And it worked! I don't know if we were just tired though, but we were all pretty much asleep on the ride back. ;p Oh, and we also checked out the crocodile habitat on the island which I'll just blog about separately.

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