Wednesday, February 12
Arrived in Cairns around noon. Our hotel is located on the Esplanade, a boardwalk along the water. We decided to walk along the Esplanade to explore, but it soon started to rain. However, the rain was gentle and warm, so “no worries.”
There is a sea water pool near the hotel which is quite popular. It’s risky to swim in the ocean because of stingers and the occasional shark. When we were in New Zealand, one of our tour guides said NZ was better than Australia because it didn’t have lots of things waiting to “bite you, sting you, eat you!”
Cairns is full of fruit bats, much to the chagrin of many of the residents. At dawn and dusk, they fill the sky.
Thursday, February 13
Took a bus to Port Douglas this morning, and then boarded a catamaran to their private platform near the Great Barrier Reef. Here, people can swim, snorkel, scuba or use a semi-submersible vessel to view the reef and the fish about six feet below the surface. The reef, a World Heritage Site, extends about 1,400 miles, and consists of about 2,900 individual reefs.
Mark and I chose to snorkel, and went out for about an hour. I did see one sea turtle, but Mark missed it. However, he was able to locate an area that was less crowded with other swimmers, plus the coral was closer to the surface. This made great viewing, and he was able to get some very good shots. We even saw some soft coral, moving with the waves. We also tried the semi-submersible, and that was interesting as well, but not as good as being up close in the water.
We were pretty tired at the end of this day, but truly enjoyed ourselves.