Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Australia – Snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef


Ocean Safari 8:15AM.






I am waiting with eleven others at Ocean Safari for a half-day snorkeling trip.


Cape Trib 011 A short briefing and about nine of us are loaded in a mini-bus for a short drive to Cape Tribulation Beach. We are driven there by the wife and part owner of Ocean Safari who advises us to buckle up.


Her husband who will be one of our guides strongly agrees as he warns us..... “I have seen her drive”.

At Cape Tribulation Beach the wind is blowing about 20-25 miles per hour as we make an assisted beach boarding on the boat that will take us snorkeling.


RJ Safari A safety briefing takes place as we are swayed by the waves and told to expect a bumpy ride.





With a slight grin we are informed that the back of the boat will be the most comfortable ride. I observe a silent count of passengers by both crew members and we are on our way.


Yahama V8 Powered by two Yamaha V8's, smiles are wide and hair is wild, except mine as an exhilarating ride takes us east bound.





DSC01213 An occasional ocean spray brings laughter and bodies bounce as we crest and descend 6-8 foot waves at about 40 mph.

I wish Nicole was here, she would enjoy this.




Cape Tribulation coastline expands and then disappears under a gray vista as our distance grows from it. The weather is beautiful on the water but rain is falling again in the mountains and rain forest behind us.


DSC01218 After 35 minutes we are at our first snorkel sight. We suit up in cool Star Trek Federation dive suits and then we are given another safety briefing involving hand signals.



ap_squid_061222 Don't wave both hands over your head unless a giant squid has you by the legs and you need serious help.





Use only one hand to call your friends over to check out what you just spotted below.

Splash and I am in another world. The water is warm with good visibility and I am greeted by a visual delight.


Blue Star Fish Bright blue “Star Fish” cling to beautiful corals as an array of large and small colorful fish maneuver about the reef.




giant-clam A dive and I approach a giant clam that closes as it senses my presence. Resurfacing, ten feet below me I witness a group of fish in a feeding frenzy.



This almost all seems unreal except I can hear myself breathing.


stingray-3 About an hour later, we pull anchor and move to another nearby reef.

Here, turtles and stingrays are spotted.



Again, this is an amazingly beautiful and colorful world. As our return time approaches, I abandon my snorkel gear and take a relaxing swim.

I have lived one of my dreams.


DSC01217 Back on board a role call is made of all passengers and with everyone accounted for the Yamaha V8's are fired up.



From Halloween in Australia, Kangaroos, Sydney, American Football, Hippies and Sarsaparilla, I share a nice conversation with an Australian couple as we make our way back to Cape Tribulation.

Did you know that Australia's oldest “Hippie” community was located just north of here until the 1990's?

“Like wow man, I guess I am just a little too late to join”.


DSC01223 Besides this local info, an offer is made to show me on landing where I can purchase ….

“The Best Sarsaparilla”

How can I refuse?



DSC01225 We disembark on a different beach than our launch site and are greeted by a warning sign of sea creatures that may attack our legs.




A short walk and we are back at Ocean Safari. I am escorted by “The Ambassador Of Sarsaparilla” to PK Market.


DSC01283 There I gladly lay out AU$3 for a cold bottle of Bundaberg Sarsaparilla.

Damn, The Ambassador Is Right!




This has been an awesome experience and Ocean Safari did an excellent job. This is a well run family business that deserves your consideration if you do not want to be on a boat all day for the same amount of actual snorkeling time.

I understand all boats give you about 2 hours in the boat except most take about an hour and a half to get to snorkel sites compared to 35 minutes with Ocean Safari.

A dip in the pool, a shower and it will be time to head back south.


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