Sunday, May 24, 2015

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

Today I'm continuing the recap of our Airlie Beach vacation; so far I've posted about arriving in Airlie Beach on Sunday and our jet ski tour to Daydream Island on Monday so check those out if you haven't already!

We woke up bright and early Tuesday morning for our snorkeling trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. We decided on the day trip with Cruise Whitsundays and had a really good experience, especially since all of our snorkeling gear and meals were included in the price. There were tons of activities to choose from once we got out to the reef like diving, snorkeling, a glass bottom boat for those who didn't want to get in the water, and you could even schedule a massage on board. Peter and I both love snorkeling so we chose to spend the day doing that!

We left from Airlie Beach and made a stop at Hamilton Island to pick up some more passengers before heading out to Hardy Reef, a three hour trip in total. The marina area and the island in general were so pretty we took some pictures while we waited for everyone to board:
We had a bit of down time while everyone got on the boat, so we decided to try out the selfie stick. It was obviously amazing, unlike my hair in this picture:
To get out to the Reef we cruised through more of the Whitsunday Islands, which made the rather long boat ride interesting. The scenery sort of reminded me of some of the lakes in northern Minnesota I used to vacation on as a kid, but obviously this is an ocean and also a bit hillier (that's a word). But it had the same forest-y (also a word) vibe to me!

Once we left the islands we cruised through open water for awhile before reaching the edge of Hardy Reef. We docked to the second pontoon from the right in the below photo and entered the water there.
Pictures don't do the Reef justice; the colors were so vivid in person!
The floating items in the background of this picture (a rope and various rest devices) lined the edge of the Reef which was nice, as swimming in the open water is a bit intimidating. The Reef was shallow, but we obviously couldn't stand on it to rest, and once it dropped off you could barely see the ocean floor.

We docked and quickly put on our snorkeling gear. It wasn't required, but was strongly advised to wear stinger suits. Apparently there are a few species of jelly fish in the Reef that are deadly, so ya, we wore them.
Peter tried the GoPro on his head the first time we went in, which turned out to be a mistake given the amount of above-water footage we got. 
The required peacing photo.
Life jackets were also optional, but I'm not a huge fan of deep water so we wore those too. Plus, I already looked ridiculous enough, so why not add a life jacket?

We were some of the first people in the water, which was really nice since I got hit in the face with a few flippers once it got a bit more crowded. I had the underwater camera and took about ten zillion pictures, so here ya go!
I've tried to take so many underwater selfies in my life and maybe it's just me, but I always look possessed.
The tour company had an underwater photographer who I think also secretly fed the fish because they were obsessed with him.
They literally attacked him.
After about an hour we swam back toward the boat to eat lunch and there were hundreds of these guys.

The fish were amazing, but some of the coral was even cooler. It's weird to see it move because you kind of forget it's alive.
Love this picture!
Because I took an embarrassing selfie I also had to snap a super flattering picture of Peter.
These little guys weren't scared at all and ran into my mask a few times.
A bit cloudy but loved this fish!
See that wasn't so bad. I spared you about 387 photos so thank me. 

On the boat ride back the wind had picked up and it was a bit rough. I'm pretty sure there were more people at the bar buying motion sickness tabs than drinks. Thankfully neither Peter nor I get motion sick so we got drinks :). 

When we were almost back to Hamilton Island, something malfunctioned with the boat and they didn't want to risk docking it, so another boat came to pick us up in the middle of the water. That put us back about an hour, so by the time we were headed back toward Airlie Beach we were able to catch a really amazing sunset. Peter snapped a picture through the boat window, so again it doesn't really do it justice, but it was one of the best sunsets I've ever seen!

And now for a couple more videos!


  1. Looks like a wonderful time. I love snorkeling too, did you think about taking a diving lesson?

    1. We considered it, but I'd rather stay on the surface :). Also the certification would have taken a lot of time so I don't think we would have had much time actually diving.

  2. The view underwater looks so spectacular! The corals and fishes look brilliant with those wonderful colors, and it’s great that you got to see some of them up close. Anyway, thanks for sharing your amazing snorkeling experience with us. Cheers!

    Andrea Wilkins @ Getaway Outdoors

    1. It was definitely the best snorkeling I've ever done! So many colors and varieties of coral and fish.

  3. The reef is quite unbelievably large, its sheer size is awe inspiring, stretching across a distance that is equal to the miles between London and Athens and covering an area roughly the size of Germany.

    Dubai Dune Buggy Safari



Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



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