30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef - My First Scuba Diving Experience!

February 19, 2018

"Isn't the Reef already dead?"

My friend questioned me when I told him about my plan to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

I pondered on the spot. I was speechless to his question. And immediately that evening, I googled about it at home. Most websites tell me the reefs were dying. But dying is not the same as being dead. So I decided that I should just go find out myself...

My First Scuba Diving Experience - 30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef


Flying From Sydney to Cairns

I took a detour to Cairns during my visit to Sydney via Virgin Airline. My first experience flying with Virgin was incredible! Wifi on board with spacious comfortable seats. Have I decided on traveling to GBR earlier before booking my flight to Sydney, I'd have flown directly from Toronto to Cairns. I’d save on time and cost. A flight from Sydney to Cairns took about 3 hours one way. So, for both flights to and back costed me 6 hours.

Down Under Tour Excursion

Down Under Dive & Cruise Excursion - My First Scuba Diving Experience - 30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef

After researching online and reading reviews, I joined Down Under Cruise & Dive for their Great Barrier Reefs Snorkeling and Diving Excursion with Will. The full day trip out in the reefs with a choice of snorkelling and introductory scuba diving appealed to me the most.

Some great things about this tour:

  • You get on a fully equipped vessel with no more than 140 people on board
  • You get proper and well kept snorkel and diving equipment
  • The tour takes you to the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef to exclusive mooring locations. So you only have people from the same boat in the water with you
  • The boat is spacious and air-conditioned, clean and well-maintained. Good enough size for you to walk around the boat
  • Full length sundecks for sunbathing
  • Complimentary Aussie BBQ lunch including steak, fish, prawns, sausages, salad, fruit and cheese platter upon departing. You get to fill your tummy after a full-day of fun!
  • Live Australian Musical Entertainment on board
  • Options for certified or introductory dives for additional cost
  • You also have the option for scenic helicopter flights to and from their exclusive Heli-Pontoon on the Outer Reef for additional cost
  • Well-trained and friendly staff on board to keep you informed 
  • Organized procedures and safety precautions. They made sure everyone on board understand the safety requirements and those who are diving have done a safety lesson before diving
  • Photographer on board and out in the water to help you take photos. You can purchase them individually or in a package
  • Free 5 minute scuba diving lesson. If you like it, you can continue your guided scuba diving with the certified diving instructor who takes you 30 feet under water to see the most gorgeous corals and marine life.

Sounds like a great excursion so far, right? Until...

we left the dock and en route to the reefs, I started to feel sea sick. The vessel didn’t rock much but I still felt woozy. I never had motion sickness before despite sometimes I felt the motion from travelling on large cruise ships. Will purchased a seasick pill from the crew for me but it didn't help at all. Not only did I feel worse as the boat sailed further away in the open water, I felt like I was going to puke any time.

I stepped out of the lounge and headed outside to get some fresh air. Then, I realized I wasn't the only one feeling sick. Half of the people on this tour were out here with a vomit bag in their hands. Luckily, the crew members were attentive and knew exactly what to do in this situation.

Snorkeling at Our First Outer Reef Location





After an hour or so of cruising, we finally arrived to our first outer reef location. We had the option to rent out the wetsuits for additional cost ($10AUD/pp) to keep us warm in the water. But heck, we were from Canada! This was nothing compared to what we had to deal with over there. So we passed on the wetsuits. Instead, Will grabbed a life jacket and I grabbed onto one of those water noodle. Then, off we went to snorkel.

The water was cold, not as clear as the Caribbean water but we were still able to see a lot of colourful fishes.

And the moment of truth, what about the corals?

From just the bare surface, the corals looked dull and muddy. Completely different from what you’d see in Little Mermaid or any desktop wallpaper on Google. I also needed to float and tread continuously so that I wouldn’t crush the reefs beneath me. After snorkeling for about an hour, I was ready to explore the mysterious ocean for more marine life. I was happy we tried out the free introductory scuba diving. Because the experience blew our minds.

Both Will and I had never been diving before. But, we did travel over 15000 km to get here so, passing on a complimentary 5-minute lesson hadn’t crossed our minds at all.




My First Scuba Diving Experience - 30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef


Passing the Diving Test

The crew members helped us wear the tanks on our backs. Because, these things were heavy, like carrying another human being on my back! We dipped into the water and performed a series of fundamental diving tasks that we learned from the instructor. Such as giving proper hand signal to tell our instructor that things were okay, clearing our masks in water and putting them back on. At first try, I panicked and failed the test. I almost forgot how to breath. Dropping into the water without breathing through my nostrils was intimidating and confusing. But after calming myself down, I tried again. I remembered to breathe through my oxygen mask this time. And I could feel the compressed air filling up my lungs. I passed the test. The instructor approved us continuing, so we took the plunge and began our underwater journey!

Submerging 30 Feet Under

We submerged down to the ocean, unaware of how far we sank. I only wanted to concentrate on my breathing because the only sound I could hear was my lungs throbbing. As we sank further down, my ears started to hurt. The instructor must had felt the same way and signaled me to blow my ears to equalize the water pressure. I blew hard and my ears popped. When I got more used to the rhythm I then realized a massive, bottomless coral reef was right beside me!

Seeing the size of the reef was eye-opening! We held onto our instructor as he made his way through the reefs, showing us all the marine life. So beautiful and a lot more colourful than what we saw from just snorkeling on the surface. All the interesting sizes and shapes of the corals amazed me. Some looked like branches, some shaped like a brain and some were waving like thick spaghettis. Our adventure at the GBR had transcended to another level of awesomeness. This memory of us scuba diving would last us a lifetime.

At the end of this tour, Will actually learned how to swim (thanks to the swim fins) and me? I now know what it's like to be a mermaid underwater :)

Some pictures during our excursion to share with you. Even though these were nowhere near to describe the adrenaline that went through my body. But, I hope these pictures inspire you to scuba dive if you haven't already! I highly recommend it!

30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef - My First Scuba Diving Experience!

30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef - My First Scuba Diving Experience!

30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef - My First Scuba Diving Experience!

30 Feet Under the Great Barrier Reef - My First Scuba Diving Experience!

Watch My Underwater Adventure




Few Tips that I Learned to Fight Sea-Sickness While Cruising to The Reef

  • Take Gravel or sea-sick pills few hours before boarding on the boat. It takes time in order to have its effect. 
  • Stay closer to the center of the vessel. You’ll feel the least motion there.
  • Get fresh air. Stuffy air, especially if you're in a room crowded with people will only make you feel worse.
  • Look at something far away and never focus on something near you, such as never stare at the waves outside the window.
  • Don't be afraid to grab a vomit bag. I promise you'll feel better once stuffs are out of your system!


Happy Divin'!

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About [span]me[/span]
Hello, my name is Lorita. This is a journal of my personal style, travel adventures, food excursions, recipe experiments, DIY tutorials and every little thing in life.


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