After arriving in Port Douglas, a laid-back beach town on the north coast of Queensland, I started to get excited about seeing the reef. Diving the Great Barrier Reef has been on my radar for a long time, and I was only a short boat ride away. Simone and I walked around Port Douglas exploring the shops and restaurants and browsing the many tour shops that offered dive trips to the reef. After realizing that pretty much all of them offered tours from the same companies and there were no dive shops around (that was weird since we were right by the reef) I decided to go with Poseidon, and booked a dive for the following day. Simone stayed in town and walked around a bit, went to a local market and took a little ride on a steam train run by volunteers.
As for the dive, Poseidon turned out to be a great choice, with a very professional crew and a really nice catamaran boat that we cruised on in comfort. As we made the ninety-minute journey out to the dive site, we were split up into sections of the boat. Snorkelers on the top deck, beginner divers on one half of the bottom deck, and our group of certified divers on the other half of that deck. With that many people, you’d expect a little chaos, but the crew was great at keeping everything in order. We were all issued “stinger suits” due to the box jellies that come into the waters this time of the year (one sting from these and you don’t have much of a chance!) For the price of $295AUD, I got three dives, all of my dive gear, coffee and snacks on the way out, fresh fruit after the first dive, a big lunch after the second dive, and an afternoon snack when we were all done. I wasn’t expecting much for lunch, but was definitely happy when they served up a buffet style lunch of prawns, deli meats, potato salad, green salad, juice, rolls, and cookies. It was a nice surprise especially after diving and being really hungry.
As I said earlier, the Great Barrier Reef has been on my radar for a long time and is known as one of the best places to dive in the world, so I had big expectations for it, maybe too big. I’ve dove in California, Mexico, Hawaii, Fiji and thought those were all building up to this dive. It turned out to be comparable to Hawaii and Fiji and not standing above them. The reef is an amazing place and beautiful, but I know with all of the tourism going on there seven days a week, it has taken a toll on the coral and the marine life living in and around it. There were quite a few fish, giant clams, a couple of baby white tip reef sharks, a sting ray, huge sea cucumbers and tons of other life, but the coral was not in the greatest of health. There were spots full of color and then entire sections completely lifeless. The thing that is so amazing about the reef is its size. Obviously if you can see it from space, then it’s pretty big. Maybe my thoughts would be different if we had gone to other spots but I got the same feedback from my dive master who was also from the U.S. and had big expectations for this place too. I’m planning on diving some more of the Great Barrier Reef as we head south down the coast, so stay tuned for a possible change in the tides.
If you’re planning on diving out of Port Douglas, I highly recommend Poseidon. There are a few others, but after seeing some of the other companies in action and having such a great trip, I would definitely go with them again. You also want to dive the “outer reef”.