I had finally arrived in Cairns very late the previous night and tumbled straight into a hostel bed. On waking the next morning, I realised that my first time in a backpacker dorm room was actually not so bad at all. In fact it was really lovely at an amazing price of only AU$27 a night.
I picked Travellers Oasis hostel originally because it has such lovely positive reviews… And found the reviews to all be true. The hostel is painted in cheerful pink and yellow tones with a tasteful frangipani themed decor throughout. It’s clean and tidy with a super friendly vibe. Free tea and coffee along with free fast wifi made this a really enjoyable place to stay. Talking to other travellers staying here, a lot of them considered Travellers Oasis to be the best hostel they had ever stayed in during their Aussie trip.
My first day I spent in Kuranda. Kuranda is a small town outside of Cairns that you can travel to by train or gondola over a stunning mountain rainforest. It’s a town mainly for the tourists with lots of animal parks and river tours. What I quite liked were the markets. Great for getting all those must-have souvenirs and looking around.
Flying over the rainforest in the Skyrail gondola
Then the next day, the whole reason I had chosen to come to Cairns, I started my five day scuba diving course. Eeee!
It started with some boring classroom time. All that safety stuff blah don’t forget to breathe blah. And then the thrilling part started after lunch. Prodive (the awesome company I decided to do my scuba certification through), had a swimming pool which is half normal swimming pool depth, and the other half 4m deep, and it was heated! Fantastic for a cold water wimp like me. I learnt how to set up all the diving equipment and take it apart, found out just how freaking heavy it all is to wear, and spent the afternoon and the next day diving in the pool learning underwater skills.
The third day was an early start at 6am. By 7am I was on the Scubapro boat and heading 50km out to sea to the Great Barrier Reef where I’d be for the next two nights.
Leaving lovely Cairns behind
My home for the two nights (Photo courtesy of one of my diving buddies – Barbara Hugo Hafner)
Apart from the first night, I had an amazing time. In total over the three days I completed nine dives in a variety of different dive locations within the reef. Best experience of my life. Ever.
I’m the diver on the left (Also one of Barbara’s photo)
I am pretty sure I am hooked now.
My diving group! Photo from Breanna Bueche
Every dive just got better and better. Especially by halfway through the three days when I became a certified Open Water diver. The difference was that once I became certified, I didn’t have to go with an instructor for every dive. I still have to go with another certified diver, as its diving law to always have another ‘bag of air’ near you underwater (as our hilarious diving instructor described it). But now that I wasn’t having to complete certificate skills underwater with the instructor, I could actually spend the dive enjoying the beauty of the reef.
I hired a camera for one of my dives. But until I’m somewhere with wifi I can’t show you the photos from it! So hence the borrowing of photos for this post.
Image courtesy of Aus Geographic
This photo is similar to the beautiful reef I saw. Just ignore the bikini clad snorkeler in there. I had a nice thick 5mm wetsuit on since the water was only a mere 26 degrees.. And also had turtles and rays and sharks and dozens of colourful fish… :P feeling jealous yet?
One of the dives I did was a night dive. This involved jumping into the ocean in the dark! It was pretty scary and I can’t say that I enjoyed it that much. At night the reef sharks are much more active and tend to circle ‘interesting’ things like bubbly divers in the water. Although the sharks aren’t into eating humans, I was still quite nervous of how many there were and how close they got. On the cool side, one of the night-dive sights I saw was a giant sleeping turtle about 1.5m big (pretty massive if you know anything about turtles).
The whole trip was fantastic. I only had some trouble on the first night with seasickness. I think I had maybe three hours of dozing outside on the boat deck with the rest of the night spent feeling absolutely miserable. But hey at least the fish were well fed that night.
Prodive are a wonderful company. They are one of the more expensive companies in Cairns but that’s because they are most probably the best. Everything from the well designed classroom facilities, excellent timing and running of the programme, delicious boat food, and hilarious enthusiastic diving instructors and boat crew just overall made the five days an unforgettable experience. I would love to do it all again. But maybe with the following suggestion in mind.
Piece of advice – take seasickness medication. But do take the whole recommended 24hr dose each day for the whole trip if you are like me and have a weaker stomach.
Then as it unfortunately always is, all good things come to an end, and the Scubapro headed back to land. Once back on dry land, with my wobbly not-quite-land-legs-yet, I headed back to my hostel for a final night in Cairns.