Editor at large: Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef

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    Natalie and Chris stand on the sun deck of the live aboard boat. Patches of coral reef can be seen in the water behind them (they're the brown patches).
    Natalie and Chris stand on the sun deck of the live aboard boat. Patches of coral reef can be seen in the water behind them (they’re the brown patches).

    Chris and I are at our best when we’re exploring something new or creating new experiences.

    When we first started considering Australia for a honeymoon location, my best friend insisted we learn to scuba dive to see the Great Barrier Reef up close. I had always wanted to learn scuba, and I agreed that this would be a great opportunity to learn.
    Chris, of course, was on board when I mentioned it for the first time — but that meant we would have to become scuba certified before we left Washington.

    With everything else going on at the time, wedding planning and working and trying to get everything in order, it was easy to put off the scuba certification. In late July, we figured we should probably get serious about booking a class. At this point, we didn’t realize it takes two full weekends to get certified. After looking at the schedule, there was one class that would work for both of us, so we booked it right away.

    Those classes were the first two weekends in August, and we were getting married on Sept. 3. Part of me felt like the last thing we needed was to add one more thing to do before the wedding, but once class started, I knew we had made the right decision.
    Not only because we enjoy scuba diving, but because the experience was almost like couple’s therapy. It was so nice to have a solid eight hours each day for two weekends where Chris and I were doing something together that was not related to planning the wedding or the honeymoon.

    Scuba tanks lined up near the stern of the boat. Divers put on their gear here before striding into the water.
    Scuba tanks lined up near the stern of the boat. Divers put on their gear here before striding into the water.

    Fast forward to about one month later. Chris and I landed in Cairns. The next day, we headed out to our two-day live-aboard boat over the Great Barrier Reef.

    Before this trip, we had only ever gone diving off the shore in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. At the time, I was surprised at the amount of live we saw at the Edmonds Underwater Park near Brackett’s Landing.

    That is nothing like what we saw out here.

    Coral reefs stack up around 20 meters high. It’s impossible to spot an area with no fish, no matter where you look. If you hold still long enough, schools of silvery fish with yellow tails swarm around you.

    We were lucky enough to see two small sharks and one sleeping sea turtle, though sometimes, there may be more.

    Several people on our boat only snorkeled. We saw some helicopters fly over and some glass-bottom boats giving tours, but I am convinced there is no better way to experience the reef than up close.

    The sunset from the sun deck of the live aboard boat.
    The sunset from the sun deck of the live-aboard boat.

    Diving from a live-aboard, we also got to meet people from all over the world who also love diving. We were easily the least experienced certified divers on the boat, but we got some good tips from more experienced divers. Audrey from Hungary shared photos of several dives she had been on in the Red Sea, navigating through wrecked ships in warm waters. Jergen and Marion from Germany talked for at least 30 minutes about a wonderful diving trip they had taken in Maldives.

    Six dives later, I’m already looking forward to the next dive — probably in Fiji next week.

    Tonight, we will stay in another private room at a hotel in Cairns.

    Tomorrow morning, we will fly to Melbourne, our last stop in Australia.

    – By Natalie Covate

    Just-married Natalie Covate, editor of MLTnews, is writing about her honeymoon adventures.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Hi Natalie, congratulations on getting married and then to come to Cairns to Scuba Dive the Great Barrier Reef is so nice to read your article how much you enjoyed it. Scuba diving on the reef is so special I think it really helps people appreciate this amazing natural beauty. I have made just over 388 dives now on the Great Barrier Reef and I’m still finding new fish and corals I have never seen in my life! Thank you for sharing and hope more people get a chance to visit our little slice of paradise Cairns The Great Barrier Reef Australia!

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