This thread of posts is on my bucket list, both the parts of it I have done and those I am yet to do. It has been written to provide consistent content for your perusal (particularly with lockdown at the moment). I hope West’s Bucket Lists will provide some inspiration, perhaps for your future travels, and even a little escapism in these uncertain times. This post is number 6 on West’s Bucket List. Enjoy!
The Great Barrier Reef covers around 350 000km of Australian waters and is the world’s largest living structure. Unfortunately, it is dying, and that is why I fear if I wait much longer, I may not have the opportunity to see it. Rising sea temperatures are changing far too fast for the coral polyps to adapt their ways.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the reef is supposed to be a place of unspeakable beauty. In the hope that I may one day get to see it, still thriving, I’ve written this bucket list post a little differently. I’m going to provide you with a short list of possible ways to further your enjoyment if you ever happen to get to see The Great Barrier Reef.
Without further ado, here’s what my friends and family have recommended!
- Whitehaven Beach
The best beach in Australia? I think few would disagree. If you like sand, sea, and sky, there is just about nowhere better to spend a few days of your time.
On Whitsunday Island, at the heart of the reef, white pristine sand stretches for miles, bordering the electric blue Pacific Ocean. Oceanside restaurants, like the Marina Tavern, can provide you with food and drink to supplement the experience, but no where’s cheap so maybe consider packing a picnic to bring with you.
As you lie on the silica sand, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of turtles or dolphins in the water but, if not, take a trip out into the surf by boat and seek them out! There’s no shortage of tour possibilities to enhance your day at the beach.
If you don’t want to strap on a dive tank and dive into the depths of the reef, snorkeling can still provide you with a way to immerse yourself in the subaquatic world.
I actually prefer snorkeling to diving. Don’t get me wrong, diving definitely provides you with a more comprehensive underwater experience. You come far more up close and personal with the reef and its various inhabitants; however, I like to take my time looking at the wildlife and exploring. Snorkeling can give you hours and hours of continuous entertainment where you would have to return to the surface if diving. Moreover, snorkeling gives you added freedom to move in the water, without the hindrance of cumbersome equipment. There is something discernibly natural about that.
Perhaps the most significant reason why you should choose to go snorkeling is that it is considerably cheaper than diving. A mask, snorkel, and perhaps a pair of fins, should set you back less than £50 (unless you plan to buy professional gear) and can provide years of waterborne fun. For the thrifty traveller in me, that is partly why it is one of my absolute favourite activities when I am abroad.
- Scuba Diving
Having made a case for snorkeling the reef; scuba diving, to many, will be a preferable choice. It will set you back an absolute minimum of 100 AUD per dive around the reef, but if that doesn’t put you off, there are plenty of reasons to get yourself down towards the sea floor.
From small, striped, and colourful clownfish in their sea anemone huts, to great grey groupers hunting over the sand, there is every type of fish before your very eyes down in this portion of the deep blue. Moreover, corals as far as they eye can see and turtles, reptilian sentinels watching over the reef, complete a composite image of the thriving ecosystem. Apparently, according to the people who have visited, there is no place quite like it.
For an utterly immersive experience down and personal with the reef, get diving.
- Mon Repos
Mon Repos is the home of the turtle center. The center itself is a hub dedicated to turtle research and protection, as well as the education of the public.
If you have kids, Mon Repos is a great place to teach them about marine life and conservation. Get yourself out on a night tour to see turtles laying, or hatching, depending upon when you arrive. I’ve seen both phenomena, in Florida and Oman respectively, and its an experience that will truly live long in the memory.
Pricing isn’t too bad but check the Mon Repos website for updates because I can’t guarantee they will stay stable when we get out of lockdown.
- Take to the skies
There are lots of different options for tour operates who provide flights over the reef, be it by plane or by helicopter.
If you thought diving under the water offered you a unique perspective, a low flying tour over the reef will offer you one which even fewer people are blessed with. It is an experience that few people consider but, by all accounts, one that is magnificent.
If expense, or your carbon footprint, are on the brain then you might not be inclined to take a flight. For those reasons, it would not be under consideration for me; however, but for both factors, I have heard nothing but good things about such trips.
I hope that I have given you a little inspiration for your trip to Australia, whether you were considering taking one or not. I am positively buzzing about the prospect of lockdown ending in the near future and writing these posts to learn that bit more about the world is just about the only thing keeping me going. I hope they are providing something to you all as well! Happy Lockdown!