The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef on the planet and also one of the seven natural wonders of the world. For snorkelling enthusiasts like ourselves, it is definitely one of the top underwater places to visit and explore. Before visiting Australia we were already thoroughly calculating how much money we would spend for the rest of our trip, but we were unanimous in one decision: we were not skipping The Great Barrier Reef no matter how much it would cost.
After googling and reading dozens of blog posts, we thought the best location for visiting The Reef would be the city of Cairns. Although the city itself didn’t leave a big impression on us, it was definitely a good base camp to go and explore the world’s largest coral reef.
We visited one of the countless info centres where we got all the information we needed. The first and very useful tip we got was that doing a one day trip is more than enough to see all the highlights of The Reef. The second thing to consider when choosing your trip to The Reef is that, from Cairns, there are numerous places where you can go, but the fact is that if you want to make the most of your trip, you’ll have to visit the outer reef. The selection of choices will be smaller now, but the outer reef also offers some better and less better places for snorkelling or diving. However, there are two companies that will take you to the very best spots of The Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, the quality is proportional to the price, and Australia is an expensive country, but once you’ve experienced snorkelling or diving at The Reef, you won’t regret a single dollar spent for your trip.
The two companies that will take you to the best places of The Reef are Poseidon Cruises and Silverswift. Apparently, the only difference between the first and the second one is that with Poseidon you will see the soft corals, while with Silverswift you’ll “only” see the hard ones. However, the young gentleman at the info centre told us that there is actually no big difference between one and the other, and that both companies offer a top experience of The Reef. Another good thing to know is that Silverswift is the only company that will take you to four different spots of The Reef.
Although we wanted to go with Poseidon, there were unfortunately no vacant spaces for our selected dates, so we went for the second option – Silverswift. As I already mentioned, visiting The Great Barrier Reef is not cheap, especially if you want to see its best spots, but I repeat: try not to save money on choosing your trip as this will be one of the best experiences of your life – this I can promise. You can find the Silverswift pricing list here. The price includes all the snorkelling/diving equipment, a light lycra suit for snorkellers (a very good protection from the Australian sun and possible jellyfish), morning snacks and coffee, an all you can eat buffet for lunch and much more!
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can visit The Great Barrier Reef either by snorkelling or diving. The diving option is only worth choosing if you’re a certified diver so that you can explore The Reef by yourself. However, I would NOT recommend going for an introductory dive as you will have to pay an additional amount of 75 AUD for a 20 min dive, not going deeper than 5-7m, constantly holding the hand of your guide. Besides that, if you’re at least an average snorkeller being able to dive down for about 5m, you’ll be able to see exactly the same things as those doing the introductory dive.
As we already mentioned, we chose the Silverswift company for our Great Barrier Reef exploration, and we had one of the best days of our lives! They took us 50km from the shore, right into the heart of the outer reef where we saw some of the most amazing things of the underwater life. Apart form crazy corals and fish, we saw turtles and, hey, white tipped sharks! I usually get very cold when I spend a lot of time under water, but the water temperature at The Reef was very pleasant, and the Lycra suit did its job very well. Not for Nejc though, as he decided not to wear it, and was so excited to go snorkelling that he forgot to put sun cream on his back. The completely burnt skin on his back peeled off entirely after about a week. 🙂 But no matter this slightly annoying experience, we still had a really great time, not only because of the underwater experience, but also because of the amazing crew that took a good care of us for the whole day.
Picture source: http://www.poseidon-cruises.com.au/gallery/