I’m not sure what it is with me and transitioning to new places, but it never seems to work out. I arrived in Cairns at 11:00 pm and take a shuttle to the hostel I already booked (for a bargain of $13 a night I might add). I lug my bags to the door only to find it locked with a sign saying reception closed- check in at bar. I go to the bar only to find it closed as well. So I find myself alone in a strange town with no place to stay.
A few guys who were staying at the hostel heard me knocking on the door and let me in. They helped me carry my bags up and let me stay in an empty bed in their room. There was no sheets for the bed, and I had to borrow one of their keys to get to the bathroom, but it definitely beat roaming the streets alone at night finding another hostel. I’m so grateful for all the kind people I’ve meet on my travels.
The bus picked me up early the next morning for diving. I was so excited. We got on a boat that was packed full of people and I was wondering how were we supposed to all stay on here. The live-aboard diving was supposed to be 3 days and 2 nights. We stopped at a spot about an hour and a half off shore and prepared for the first dive.
And oh my gosh it was AMAZING!!! I saw so many spectacular fish and corals. The best part of the first dive was Wally. Wally is a very friendly Humphead Maori Wrasse which is a blue-green fish over a meter big. He let me pet the top of his head and scratch his chin. I never knew how friendly a fish could be!
Next dive I saw a white fin reef shark. They’re harmless to people. I also saw a giant clam which closes its shell whenever someone gets too close to it. And drum roll please… I found Nemo! Yes, a sweet little clown fish sitting by his anemone.
We switched to a larger boat with more space and more experienced divers. The afternoon continued with more dives. On the third one of the day I came face to face with a sea turtle! And all this in addition to seeing some truly phenomenal coral structures.
The final dive of the day took place after the sun set. We put on our gear and grabbed torches (flashlights) and followed the dive masters into the water. Since I only have a PADI Open Water certification I’m not qualified to dive alone at night. We followed the guide down to see the Giant Trevally hunting. As I swam up towards the surface and did a safety stop everywhere I shined a light there were… SHARKS!!! Yes 4-6 foot long beasts swimming gracefully through the water. I didn’t want to leave- it was so cool to see!
The next morning dawned very early with a 6 am dive. Although it was a terrible hour to be awake at, the dive was spectacular. All of the big fish and sharks are just going to sleep and the little fish are waking up. I saw not one, not two, but 3 lion fish! And a ton of other fish as well. Throughout the day we did 5 dives.
The following day we began at 6 am again and completed 3 dives before heading back to shore. It was sad to leave the boat- I’d have loved to stay on a dive more. For dinner I joined some of the other divers who’d also just finished their cruise, for dinner at a thai restaurant. And then for dessert we had the most amazing freshly made gelato at Dolci + Gelati. It was some of the best gelato I’ve had! I can’t believe I had such an amazing opportunity- I got to do 12 dives in 3 days and see some amazing Australian reef critters!