Port Douglas, Daintree, and diving the Great Barrier Reef!

Posted on September 10th, 2010 by BreAnn

After driving ALL DAY on the “wrong side of the road” up to Port Douglas, Australia, we pulled into our motel/condo for the night, which ended up being a TOTAL dump! It was called the “Mango Tree” in Port Douglas, NEVER STAY THERE!  Dirty place, musty smell, gross linens, crappy shower, and we even saw a bug or two!  Not the best place to end up after a LONG day of driving!

The next day (Friday, Aug 20) we decided to switch to a different hotel, but the JERKS at the front desk said they would have to charge us a $50 cleaning fee for leaving earlier than booked!!!  WE WERE SOOOO PISSED!!  We argued a bit, especially because the place was such a dump, but ultimately gave up and paid the money because we just wanted OUT!  Found a better place to stay in the end, and were pretty happy about the change!

Strange sign we found on the side of the road. What is THAT!?

By the time we found a new hotel, had breakfast, and wandered around for a bit, we found that it would be too late to go scuba diving for the day. We were VERY disappointed, because we only had one day left for diving and then we were flying the following day. For those of you that know about scuba, you’ll know that you can’t fly on a plane within 18-24 hours after you dive (without getting complicated about it, basically it has to do with the pressure of being under water and then up in the air and issues with the nitrogen in your body.)  Fortunately, in the end the timing worked out just fine, although it was cutting it a bit close. Since we LEARNED from our last dive experience in the Whitsundays that it would be a waste of our time to do dives towards our certification, we discovered we would be able to see and do a LOT more by booking a “beginners dive” for the next day on the dive boat.

Meanwhile, we wanted to check out the Daintree Rainforest, which was just an hour or so away from Port Douglas, so we jumped in our car and were off!  We had booked ourselves on a zip lining tour, and with the driving, car ferry (had to take a car ferry across a lake/river!), stops, etc, we BARELY just made it on time!  I was excited to do zip lining, as I had been disappointed at that point in the trip that I never got an opportunity to go skydiving!—I have actually never gone skydiving in the past, but have always wanted to do it in some really cool location, so I decided I was going to skydiving at some point during our Australian trip. However, Julie wasn’t interested in going, and we were moving around so much on our trip that there just wasn’t enough time or a convenient time to do it.

Upside down was about the ONLY exciting part for me!

Anyway, SO—zip lining we went!  For some reason, I was expecting zip lining to be quite a thrilling adventure—fast, scary, zooming through the forest. UM, NO—not so much. It was more like “gentle coasting” through the forest, which was pretty disappointing to me. Just not “exciting” enough! We did get to go upside down for some of the lines, so that was fun. But the scenery was pretty, and the experience overall was nice.  After a little sight-seeing in the area and driving around in the beautiful countryside, we returned to Port Douglas for dinner and drinks later on.

Woke up EARLY the next morning (August 21) to board our Scuba boat!  It took quite some time to get wayyyy out to sea, as they were taking us to some of the farther-away reefs. We were going diving at the “Agincourt Reefs”, which are only a few of the 2,900+ reefs that make up the whole Great Barrier Reef (which is, by the way, the world largest coral reef system.)  These reefs are right on

Big waves in the MIDDLE of the ocean??

the Continental Shelf, which is basically, in short, a “shelf” of land in the middle of the ocean . . . wow, how strange and incredible this was, as we could see actual tidal waves forming in the smack middle of the ocean. It was fascinating to watch!

As we got suited up in our scuba gear, we told our instructor that even though we were going to be part of the “Beginners Dive” group, we have had experience before, and wished to be with a group of other “experienced beginners” as well. The reason I mentioned this, is a couple years back when I did my very first beginners scuba dive in Spain, another “beginner” girl in my group was TOTALLY freaking out the whole time, and pretty much ruined the experience for the rest of us.  Fortunately, with this dive group, we all did just great!

This kind of looks like what we saw on our first dive!! SO cool!

The first dive was SO AMAZING, I still dream about it in my head & cannot wait to do a similar dive again some day . . .  basically, instead of swimming and looking DOWN at the ground below, we actually swam down and AROUND & around this huge, amazing, vertical-tower type reef. It looked like something I’ve only seen in cartoon movies (Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, etc.), it was breathtaking and amazing. Julie enjoyed the experience, but was still a bit anxious about the whole diving experience in general, so I kept checking in with her to make sure she was fine (and she was, of course.)

When we got back to the boat, my excitement got the best of me and I forked over extra cash to rent an underwater camera to capture some shots of our next dives.

Unfortunately, the following two dives weren’t as amazing as the first, but we still captured some really great coral and fish photos, and of course some fun and goofy ones of us swimming as well.  We HAD to capture one of me doing “The Michelle Pose” of course, and I swallowed a TON of salt water in the process of trying to swim down deep enough to get the perfect shot!

We finished up the day by doing a bit of snorkeling around the boat, and then enjoyed the long boat ride back to shore.  I felt SO excited about all the things we saw that day, and it made the whole scuba experience worthwhile to have booked such a good dive boat for the day.

Me scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef!

The next day (August 22) it was time to head HOME!  I was pretty disappointed the trip had come to an end, ESPECIALLY because the weather was SO BEAUTIFUL and warm in Port Douglas, I could have stayed another week or two just there alone!  However, we had a plane to catch… and we did.

What a wonderful Australia adventure we had!  And was a really great friend-bonding experience for Julie and I  🙂

 

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