Great Barrier welcomed me with a cyclone and the heaviest rain you can imagine. Over Christmas, the weather forecast was already the worst and I was actually lucky I even got to fly up here. Little did I mind the rain since I was going to be in the water the whole time for diving anyway…for any activity that involves water I find some rain to be a nice change, it makes you feel so comfortable in the water. While my pick-up service totally forgot to pick me up from the airport I somehow managed to catch a ride to my hostel, the ‘Northern Greenhouse’, it’s a clean and nice hostel, give it a try. Being left with the last free bed right next to the ice cold AC I ended up sleeping in my clothes and beanie…you can imagine how I felt when I woke up. I couldn’t care less when I had to leave for my early morning diving class and the plan was to simply survive on coffee. Had I known that today was the day we were going to take the pictures for our diving certification card I would have at least brushed my hair…well, I’ve got a ‘beautiful’ picture on my card now.
Open Water Diver Certificate in Cairns
I did a lot of research before coming to Cairns and had a hard time choosing between all the different companies. The deal I chose in the end just seemed to good to be true…but it truly was a perfect deal. I booked a 5 day trip with ‘Pro Dive’ which included my Open Water Diver Certification with 2 days of indoor pool training and 3 days liveaboard trip and all other expenses. We went over New Years which was just perfect timing. Luckily, I took the course in English although they offered it in German. The solo travelers paired up as dive buddies and my dive buddy was just the best. My days were filled with diving and the first time I went underwater I was so relieved to find that I could easily equalize my ears. I don’t know if it’s a common thing but at some point the dive shop would gather all of us and underline how important it was that we had our own equipment to really enjoy diving etc. which would then be followed by offering us discounts if we purchased our gear at the shop the same day. Besides my personal opinion that I don’t like to be pressured into buying something I thought it was nothing but a ‘clever’ marketing and selling strategy. So don’t be fooled and take enough time to research before you get any new equipment.
The LIVEABOARD TRIP was unimaginable. Everything went smoothly, the crew and the group were just great, the food was heaven especially considering that it was an all-inclusive trip and the daily routine of diving, eating, diving, eating was something I fell in love with right away. Why again did I only start diving at this age? I honestly did not expect diving to sweep me off my feet like that…it only took seconds when I went for my first dive in the ocean and I was already deeply, irreversibly in love with it! Since then I can’t think of anything else than where and when I can go diving next. When I think back to this trip there are so many emotions attached to it. The advantage of going with a 3-day liveaboard trip is that they will take you further in so you get to dive the outer reef – we mainly went to ‘Milln Reef’, ‘Flynn Reef’ and ‘Thetford Reef’. An old turtle dude lives at Flynn Reef – his name is Bryan and it was his 140th birthday (‘We don’t name the other turtles because Bryan’s girlfriends change too frequently.’). Diving around here was great and I was relieved to see that the corals were still healthy and colorful. We logged a total of 9 dives which is a quite solid number for 3 days and we had such a great time. ‘We have to come up with a sign for ‘laughing’ underwater!’ ‘Naa, we don’t need to, you do that thing with your shoulders, I know when you’re laughing!’.
New Years at Great Barrier Reef
NEW YEARS out on the reef was such a special night. We were super tired from diving and kept playing silly games to kill some time (‘Sleeping through New Years is not an option’). And the games continued and continued until it was already 2 min before midnight and despite my constant protest to go upstairs no one seemed to care. Well, luckily I had a partner in crime rebelling with me and we managed to start the movement upstairs to be able to make it in time (‘Sorry guys, I’m only here once, I am not going to spend New Years under deck!’). And I actually didn’t spend a single second that night under deck. My cabin was freezing cold so I packed my things and slept outside (‘Lisa, you look like a really stylish homeless person with all your stuff out here.’). What I would have missed if I didn’t! I woke up to the craziest sky in history and the first day of the new year could have not been any more beautiful. For the next night, the others even joined me.
We finished off that awesome dive trip with a crazy night out in CAIRNS. If in Australia, you gotta have some kangaroo meat at some point, so that’s what we had first along with some crocodile meat. I got a sense of home as we were having food later at a German restaurant called the…how innovative…Bavarian! I actually had my first ever ginger beer there, 1 liter of course. The others didn’t really get why I got so excited about having some plain bread with butter and Sauerkraut. Well, that’s the German spark. It was the longest night and I still have no idea when exactly I went to bed. And did you know? If you want to play pool in Australia and someone is playing already just place a 50 Cent coin on the side of the pool table…that means you’ll be up next. Throughout the night I learned that apparently, the dive instructor crew voted ‘Best on Boat’ for all their groups and that they all had to sign a so-called ‘Availability Clause’ which exactly means what you’re assuming. Well, well, interesting!
On my last day, I got to sleep in for once on my around the world trip which was pure heaven and probably the most relaxed morning in ages. That day those two awesome brothers I had met on the boat wanted to go bungee jumping in the woods so I tagged along. I loved seeing them together since they reminded me so much of my brother and I. That day I also learned that apparently those famous German cookies called ‘Snickerdoodle’ existed which they were both so excited to tell me about. Snickers-what? Sorry guys, I have never heard of anything like that! My last night in Cairns found a perfect end: sitting on the beach, talking for ages, watching shooting stars – so cheesy but what can I say it was such a beautiful night and just reminded me once again of the moments that truly matter in life!
~ Hey, let’s squeeze in a spontaneous trip to the Whitsundays ~