The Great Barrier Reef – Sea and Sky Visits

February, 2023

You can access the Great Barrier Reef from Airlie Beach or Cairns, Australia. Of course, visiting the reef from both locations was one of the highlights of our cruising visits to Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef runs about 1500 miles long and is the largest single structure made by living organisms. It is so large that the astronauts can actually see it from space. Yes, it’s THAT big and it’s amazing from under the water and at 500’ above the water.

Airlie Beach Snorkel Adventure

Look out Great Barrier Reef, here we come!

The catamaran we took out to the reef picked us up alongside our cruise ship. We had a 2 hour journey to get to the ocean platform located on the reef. Many of the snorkel events were cancelled because of rough seas. Our Captain for the day described it as “being a bit lumpy” (6-8ft seas with high winds). While I’m excited that our trip went to the reef, it was a very tough excursion for many of the passengers.

We left the side of the ship and spent about 45 minutes going through the beautiful Whitsundays. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of those perfect white sand/blue water views due to the weather. The last leg of the journey to the water platform was across the open ocean. At this point the excursion was renamed “The Great Barfier Reef Expedition” with about ½ of the ship being sick.

The platform that we will be snorkeling from at the reefs edge.
Safety First – Everyone must wear a stinger suit. This will help keep you from being stung by the box jellyfish.
On the platform ready to hop into the 82° water.
The fish on the reef were enormous and there was a lot of bleaching in this area.
Jeff checking out a giant clam. Because of the rough waters, our pictures weren’t very clear.

Flying Over the Reef in Cairns

We boarded a small plane in Cairns for a 45 minute ride over the Great Barrier Reef. Our pilot Brad flew us over a small section of the reef, around Green Island and over various reefs and quays as we skirted a thunderstorm.

It was an amazing adventure and we will let the pics speak for themselves.

Brad, our very capable pilot for the day.
Buckled in and ready for our flight.
Leaving Cairns and heading over the reef.
Green Island and a small section of the barrier reef.
The reef about 500’ below us. The water over the coral is only about 3’ deep and it’s possible to see manta rays, sharks other large fish.
Safely back on the ground.

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