It is no secret that the ultimate diving lifestyle, a dream of every diving enthusiast with a regular job, can be achieved as close to reality as possible during a few day liveaboard. If you are not familiar with liveaboards or if you have never been on a liveaboard, you don’t know what you are missing. Liveboard is basically when you take your diving gear and embark on a few day journey on a boat with no access to land. Depending on the quality of the liveaboard service and the price you pay, your liveaboard can range from a luxurious 5 star yacht to a regular Vietnamese junk. Nevertheless, the diving routines are usually the same. Be prepared for a full day of exhilarating dives. The days consist of about 3 day dives and 1 night dive, but of course this depends on where you are and what company you chose to go on liveaboard with.
I already discussed one dive site in Australia, the Ningaloo Reef and today, I’ll take you on a journey to the other side where Great Barrier Reef stretches along the coast of Eastern Queensland. We begin our dive experience in the city called Cairns. A perfect starting point for your liveaboard trip to the coral reef. The city is nothing too extra ordinary, but it is well known among backpackers as the party town. People come here with intentions to stay a few days and end up staying a very long time. Many hostels offer free meal in one of the local pubs or bars, so if you are in Cairns, you’ll experience the crazy backpackers first hand. On the other hand, Cairns is not just all about partying. There is a nice public swimming pool by the beach, called the Esplanade lagoon where you can chill out after a long night of drinking or shopping if you’d like. You can also catch a glimpse of some Aboriginal culture from a local educational fun park called Tjapukai. There you can embark on a path to discover the art of boomerang throwing, listen to some aboriginal music or learn about the history of the aboriginal people.
There are a few dive shops in town who offer the Great Barrier Reef liveaboard experience and dive courses, but probably the most prestigious establishment is the Pro Dive Cairns. They offer a great variety of liveaboards, from 3 day / 2 night to a full week on one of their boats. In the 3 days you get to dive 11 times (including 2 night dives). The trip departs 6 times a week, so you do not have to worry about missing it during your time in Cairns, but do book at least a few days in advance.
What can you expect on a liveaboard?
Well, the day before, you should probably get suited for your scuba equipment unless you have your own to bring along. The day of the liveaboard departure, the Pro Dive Cairns shop will pick you up at your hostel early in the morning and get you on their boat. During the trip out to the reef, you’ll meet your fellow passengers and exchange your diving stories along with fun jokes about sea sickness problems. :). During the first day, you’ll do 4 dives, the second day as well and the last day 3, because you will be headed back that late afternoon. There is usually a cook on the boat and I have to say that the food is just amazing. Divers are extremely hungry after diving, so anything probably tastes good, but the food with Pro Dive Cairns is extraordinary.
On each dive site before each dive you will have a dive site introduction by your divemaster. The divemaster will explain and more than likely draw the dive site and will tell you how to navigate through it. Then, depending on how experienced of a diver you are, you can set off with your buddy to practice your compass navigation skills or just tag along with the divemaster to explore the underwater beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.
What marine life will I see in Great Barrier Reef?
You name it and Great Barrier Reef has it. From large pelagic fish such as the batfish, large trevallies and sharks to small colorful reef fish such as moorish idol, bird wrasse, trigger fish, humbug, parrot fish and clownfish. You can also encounter more rare species of fish such as the trumpet fish, orange spine unicorn fish, mimic filefish and smooth flutemouth. One thing to watch out for are also a jelly fish. The Cairns area is known for its yearly influx of boxed jelly fish whose sting is very painful, so make sure to wear some protection on your skin if it happens to be that time of the year (but don’t worry, the Pro Dive Cairns shop will have it ready for you if needed).
Last words of advice, please keep off the coral reefs and do not play with the marine life. The Great Barrier Reef has an amazing underwater life to explore and the less we disturb it, the longer we can enjoy its beauty. Happy diving!