Item Number #32 – Dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
It was a cloudy day and I had only 3-4 hours of sleep as I was staying in a backpacker where everyone was in party mood and after my experience of divign with Great White Shark I was more cautious to be fully awake and in good shape before diving in the world famous reef – ‘Great Barrier Reef’. But it was not good enough I guess as I was accompanied by a guy from USA who was feeling sick and at first me and his friend were making jokes about throwing up and soon I myself got sick as well. It was a bumpy ride of 2.5 hours to the reef from the harbour of Cairns. But I think water is remedy for everything and as soon as I jumped into the water after gearing up for my scuba diving, I was once again smiling. It was a short (23 minutes), 15.7 meter deep dive. I loved it as this was the reason I had started Scuba Diving in the first place – to be able to dive in Great Barrier Reef. And here I was diving in this famous reef which is unfortunately getting destroyed by cyclones and fishing in past few years. I went for snorkelling after first dive and then for the second dive. It was hard to stay in the boat and not feel sick so I preffered to spend most of my time under water 🙂 It was such a nice day in my life, I met lots of people, made new friends and even being so sore didn’t matter anymore :)I am sharing my pics of that day with you all. I hope you enjoy them.
Beachcomber – It was the first island where I was supposed to stay and after listening enough about it I decided to stay there for 3 nights and then move to the northern islands. Leaving the land from Denarau, a very beautiful and well planned place to live was a nice experience. I had some pictures clicked in water before jumping into the express boat to island and had a fun trip with some of the fellow travelers in the boat. Travelling alone being a girl gets you enough flirting there I would say. But the guys are really nice and gentleman I realized as they would flirt with you but will not cross the line and that made it easier for me to travel alone. Now here I was in the famous party island called Beachcomber. The food is awesome and the backpackers here have bunk beds in open area with no walls which was a bit different from my imagination. But it was so warm that you don’t want it anyways. My first day was nice with some snorkeling and sun bathing. I met few other fellow travelers and chatted the evening away. It was after dinner I realized that the island was really small and you can walk around it in less than 20 minutes. When travelling alone I try not to drink too much or not at all. Or it was something I told myself. But who tells you that there is peer pressure at times. So I got drunk on the very first night in the resort. What happened after that – I was told the next day. I was swimming in the sand and was telling the people that I would swim and go back home. Wow that was new for me and I was getting to know more about drunk myself. That was the day and I promised myself that no matter what I am not going to drink anymore.
After two days of fun and a little bit of boredom (as I was not drinking and the whole island is about partying), I hopped on to the boat and started for my next destination – Nabula Island. There were amazing views on the way and first time I realized that there are bigger island than Beachcomber around Fiji. I got my hopes up after seeing so many beautiful islands. Nabula Island is almost at the top so you have to cross almost all the islands except Blue lagoon, where the movie Blue Lagoon was shot. It was refreshing as well as relaxing to come to this island. There is a tea shop nearby where you can get the most delicious cup cakes to eat with your evening tea. It’s open till 6 PM only so I missed it on first day but was able to get on second day. Although the electricity was not available after 8 PM but no one seemed to mind it and it seemed like travelling back in time when there was no electricity. Unlike Beachcomber there is no buffet system here. The people in the resort here serve you whatever they cook (you can choose vegetarian or non-vegetarian though). It’s like going to some one’s place where you will taste the food as per the host’s wish. It was not bad on first two days being vegetarian and only on third day everyone was looking at my plate when I was served with noodles and a boiled potato for lunch. I would not say that food was the best part here but the welcoming people here make up for that. I loved the village tour and met so many nice people that I didn’t want to leave this place for long time. Although the reality was that I was here for 3-4 days only.
I planned to do some reef Jumping now as there were some very cheap tours available here. I was the only one in the group doing it which I wasn’t aware of till everyone got dropped on the way for island sightseeing and I was the only one left with the boatman. He was a nice guy and helped me with the life jacket when he realized I am not good at swimming. It was the most adventurous things other I did till that day – snorkeling in the middle of two very big island where there was no one to see till many kilometers. I was a bit hesitant but then jumped into the water trusting my life jacket. I snorkeled for 30 minutes and you won’t believe but I couldn’t believe what my eyes were witnessing there. One of the most beautiful reefs is found near these islands and I was able to see them just few meters below my nose. There was a sense of happiness, fear (when the fishes were coming too close to my face) and excitement all in few seconds at times. Then I got a bit tired and called the boatman. He didn’t move and I could only see his boat a few meters away so I swam across to the boat. I was so tired that I could feel it in my arms, my legs and on my face as well. Finally I climbed to the boat and he told me there are three reefs that I am supposed to visit as part of the tour. So we went to the other reef. I had another amazing time jumping into another place. But by the end of second reef, I was almost dead but he insisted that the third one is the most beautiful and I must visit it. I mustered some courage and literally pushed my limits by jumping for the third round. Then the boatman told me that the island is not far and I should better swim towards it and he will go and check on others while I snorkel here. That was it; I couldn’t believe he just asked me to swim towards that far looking island. And before I could recover from the news he was gone. What’s now, I was here in the middle of nowhere surrounded by this marine life I was not sure I could trust. I had no choice but trust myself and submerge into the water to enjoy the beauty down there and forget about my tiredness completely. Having no other option I started to focus on exploring the reef and soon I was encountering a bunch of small fishes teasing me on my face as if they are asking me what I am dong in their territory and I had no choice but look at them innocently as if I am pointing to the boatman who left me here without my own will. I somehow covered 70% of the distance towards the island. Now during rest 30% I was bloody tired and felt like crying. I covered the last 25% distance and I was overwhelmed by the swimming. The water was only knee deep now and I realized that I can rather walk now. But my will power had given up so I kept swimming till my face was rubbing against the sand and there was not enough water to swim. I somehow managed to stand up and walked towards the shore. I didn’t want to see that boatman just now due to my anger for what he did so I walked towards an isolated place on the beach and sat there for a while. I didn’t even realized when I lay down there and slept till a little girl woke me up by asking to buy a bangle. I then realized that it was the best sleep I had in ages. I felt that a surge of relief flooded me after that thinking that I am still alive and I have witnessed the most beautiful place on earth (as this was the first time I had done reef jumping). I had no anger left in me but sheer joy.