From the newbies to the most experienced, the Great Barrier Reef calls to those who want to experience the majesty of the reef and interact with the species who call the coral their home. Heading out from Cairns, Queensland you will find that there are more than enough options to get you out there. However, there really is only one awesome, all-encompassing way of doing it that will really hit the spot and give you the experience you want. The liveaboard.
Why you should choose a Liveaboard?
In Cairns, liveaboards come in all shapes and sizes, they head out so frequently that you’ll find your passage to the outer reef easy to book, whether you’re hoping to go out for just one night or seven. The highlights of picking a liveaboard over a day boat include;
You get to experience a full 24-hours in the life of The Great Barrier Reef. You can observe as the reef reacts to the currents, weather and tides.
You will travel to the outer reef and the edge of the continental shift. Day boats don’t always make it out this far. This is where you will get to interact with much bigger fish, explore the sheer drop of the continental shift and encounter some of lesser seen species of the reef.
There will be far less customers on the boat with you. Most liveaboards can accommodate up to 35 people. Whereas on a day boat you’ll be entering the water with 60+ other people.
The most magical thing about the liveaboards are the dives you don’t get a chance to do on the day boats. These are the early morning and night dives. The early morning dive is the most serene. The fish on the reef are just starting to wake up and the atmosphere is just so peaceful. It’s a great way to shake the cobwebs off from being woken up so early.
The night dive is where it can get intense. Most of the fish have gone to sleep for the night and the ones who are still awake are on the hunt for a night time snack. You could be joined by Red Bass and White Tip Sharks as they use the light from your torch to hunt their prey. This is a big responsibility as you take the lives of those living on the reef into your hands, so watch where you shine that light!
Developing your knowledge
Choosing to dive with a liveaboard is choosing to dive with people who are likely to be more experienced divers, there will be a lot of people with their own equipment, including some hi-tech cameras and housing, who have a wealth of knowledge about diving from around the world. Getting to sit down for all your meals with these guys can really expand your own knowledge and give you some great tips for your next dive trip.
Life on a liveaboard may seem weird at first, but keep these in mind and you’ll soon find yourself settling in;
You will eat. A lot! It’s not just the diving that makes you hungry, try struggling into a wet wetsuit four to five times a day and see if your appetite doesn’t increase. Don’t worry though. There is plenty of food to be had on a liveaboard, with hearty meals and snacks between each dive.
Get ready for the early wake up call. You’ll be looking at fitting in up five dives a day. That means getting you in the water before breakfast.
Developing your sea legs. They say it’s best to stand up on the way out to the reef, to stop you from getting sea sick. The constant motion of the boat maybe off putting at first, but in calm seas, the motion of being rocked to sleep can be the loveliest feeling. When the sea is not so calm, it may be a case of hanging on the edge of your bed.
Getting to know your crew
The entertainment is an added bonus thrown in for free. Don’t forget that even though you’re out at sea, you’re still in Australia, which means that banter and people ripping into each other is practically compulsory. It really does make for a relaxed atmosphere between the crew and the customers.
Hanging out at night, after a long day of diving, is the best time to sit back, share some beers and plunder the crews’ extensive knowledge of the waters you’re resting on.
Diving is just an absolutely fantastic way to explore, no matter how you get yourself onto the water. It’s just that doing it on a boat that gives you the chance to view the reef at all times of the day, with a dedicated and passionate crew and like-minded people is the best way to throw yourself into the experience.
It can be more expensive and require a larger commitment of time than a day boat, but the things that are really worth doing in this world, are worth doing properly.
Two absolutely fantastic dive companies that I can highly recommend are;
Pro Dive and Deep Sea Divers Den. Both of these companies have crews who care for the reef and enjoy getting stuck in with the diving and the social side of diving.