The next morning, Traci got up early to do a 4-mile jog. She loves to experience new places by going for a run. I, on the other hand, had the breakfast buffet at our hotel's Bushfire Flame Grill. It is an elegant Brazilian restaurant by night but serves a typical breakfast buffet in the morning. The hotel gave us vouchers for a 50% discount on the breakfast buffet.
On the itinerary for the day was one of the major draws to Cairns - the opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef. This natural wonder is a large series of coral reefs that we were told can be seen from the moon. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We needed to check in at the marina at 9:30 AM for our 10:30 boat trip with Great Adventures. The marina was just down the block from our hotel so there was no need for a pick-up.
It was a partly cloudy, windy day that was not quite as warm as the day before. Looking at the ocean, I knew this was not going to be a smooth boat ride. This became more apparent when the crew told us as we were boarding that there were ginger pills available to help settle our stomachs. Oh no!
Traci and I found a seat inside the boat. I knew this was probably not the best place to be on a rocky boat ride but we feared the outside seating might be a little too chilly. It was not long after leaving the dock that a few people started getting seasick.
Like almost every place else we visited in Australia, free Wi-Fi was available on the boat. Traci took advantage of this but not me. I get motion sickness if I try to read in a moving car. There was no way I was going to surf the internet while the boat had us rocking side-to-side and up and down.
It was about an hour ride from the marina to Green Island. Passengers who were booked for the island were let off while the rest of us remained on the boat for our destination - the Outer Barrier Reef. The boat docked at the tour company's stationary 2-deck pontoon in the ocean. We were there for about 3 hours. While there we had several methods available to us for observing the Great Barrier Reef - snorkeling, scuba diving, helicopter, observation window, underwater scooter, semi-submersible, etc... There was an extra fee for some activities. Even though snorkeling was included in the price of our booking, Traci and I are not really water people. Therefore, we did not snorkel. Instead, we did the semi-submersible which was also included. We loved it. In fact, we did it twice. It is a boat in which the lower deck is below the water and surrounded by large thick glass. The boat travels along the reef for about 30 minutes allowing passengers to observe the otherworldly coral, multitudes of colorful fish, and other sea creatures.
enjoying the views of the GBR from the semi-submersible
A nice buffet lunch was served on the main deck of the pontoon. It had stir fry, large prawns, chicken, salads, fruit, soup, and other items. Traci and I were still a little queasy from the rocky boat ride to get to the pontoon. Traci was in worse shape than me. She did not eat anything initially but she eventually joined me in enjoying the meal as she started to feel better.
One of the other activities I enjoyed that day was my conversation with the marine naturalist. An announcement was made which which led me to believe there was going to be a presentation at the pontoon's underwater observation deck. I got there a little late so I asked one of the employees if I had missed the presentation. She told me that there was no presentation. She was there to answer any question we had about the reef. She and I spoke one-on-one for quite a while about the wonders of the reef. She pointed out the varieties of coral such as brain coral and plate coral as well as some of the 1,500 species of fish just in this area of the reef. Her passion for marine life really shined through. It made the experience special.
Traci and I spent some time relaxing in the lounge chairs on the top deck of the pontoon before it was time for everyone to board the boat for the ride back to Cairns. This time, Traci and I chose the boat's outside seating. Someone told me long ago that one method of preventing seasickness is to keep your eyes fixed on something stationary such as the distant horizon. I did this from time to time during our 2-hour trip back to the marina and had no issues with seasickness. However, others around us were not doing so well. I saw several people using the vomit bags.
Traci trying to stay warm and dry during the rocky boat ride back to Cairns
That evening, Traci and I were totally overwhelmed by the number of restaurants from which to choose along the Esplanade and nearby streets. We walked around for over an hour reading posted menus before we finally agreed on a Thai restaurant. The food was very good. We had been on a winning streak with our restaurant choices ever since we left Sydney. Of course, on our way back to the hotel, Traci and I had to stop at one of the gelato stands for our evening gelato. I just love vacation! Continue...