Under the Sea

Here’s the thing. Since we’ve picked up the van* 10 days ago the weather has been… not so good. We arrived on the cusp of Queensland’s rainy season with the blind optimism that we would tiptoe around it. Instead we’ve been pummeled with buckets of rainy on a bi-daily basis. When we wake up, it’s raining, when we go to sleep, it’s raining, and usually a few squalls thrown in between for good measure.

In addition to being really annoying, the poor weather has washed out a lot of our plans. There has been no lying on the beach. There’s been no long nights sitting out by the van with a beer. And most devastating so far: we had to downgrade our two-night, three-day tour of the Whitsundays to a single day trip.

It’s been pretty demoralizing. I’ve been trying really hard to keep an upbeat attitude, but it’s hard to look on the bright side when I’ve barely seen the sun in days. Even our view of the dazzling Whitehaven beach was marred with gray skies.

There’s one place though, where things like drizzle and overcast skies don’t matter even a bit. Where colorful animals buzz about, impervious to things like weather reports. That place is under the water’s edge, and it’s been my favorite place to be these past few days.

Understand that I am terrified of scuba diving. Just the thought of all that water over my head is claustrophobic and terrifying. I’d much rather jump out of a plan than strap on an oxygen tank. I did want to see the coral reefs and tropical fish that Queensland is famous for though, so snorkeling (which I’d also never done before) seemed like my best bet.

I got my first chance during our one day Whitsunday Islands cruise. The 74 islands are absolutel stunning, even in the rain, and I regrette not getting to see more of them. Our tour explored the islands in the morning, then pulled into a secluded bay after lunch for some face time with the fish. And fish there were a lot of; zig zagging eagerly through the water near our boat.

I was somewhat apprehensive, but I shimmied into my wet suit, eased into the water, took a deep breath and opened my eyes…

It was magical. Underneath the surface the water was clear, blue and busy, with fish of every color swimming just inches from my nose. Totally unfazed, they went about their business, leaving me to marvel at the sheer volume of beauty. I could see brilliant purple and pink parrot fish, little blue darters and so many more. It wasn’t scary at all- it was beautiful. A whole vibrant world on the other side of the glass.

The next day I got a chance to continue my explorations. Since we couldn’t explore the Whitsundays we decided to take a day cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, one of the seven wonders of the world and the largest living structure in the world stretches over a thousand miles off the coast of Queensland. Our boat  took us three hours away from the rainstorms, to the horse-shoe shaped Knuckle Reef. It was an impressive operation where you could observe the reef via snorkeling, glass bottom boat, submarine- even helicopter! Most of the pictures in this post come from the sub and from the pontooms underwater vieweing platform.

Once again I dipped under the water with my trusty snorkel and mask. This time, in addition to a plethore of fish, I was able to see the reef itself. A wall of beautiful, multicolored coral stretched out in front of me close enough to touch- not that I would ever dare. Everywhere life darted, slithered and waved through the water. Unlike the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef was awesome yet very, very real.

I feel as if I’ve been let in on a great secret that everyone else already knew. There’s life under the sea, vivid, busy and beautiful life. I want to snorkel more, to see more, maybe even someday I’ll work up the nerve to scuba. One things for sure: only viewing the water from this side of the glass is missing half of the equation.

*I’m currently traveling around Australia in a Chubby Camper Van with the generous help of Travellers Auto Barn.

, , ,

31 Responses to Under the Sea

  1. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World November 21, 2010 at 11:22 AM #

    That sucks about the rain, that’s what it’s like over here in California too — stupid rain! At least you get to see lotsa of fishies.

    Hah, that’s funny..I’m the same way about scuba diving… just thinking about it makes my hyperventilate a bit.

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 5:49 AM #

      Humans aren’t meant ot breathe underwater- it’s unnatural I tell you!

      • ehalvey November 22, 2010 at 7:14 PM #

        I’m there with you, the idea of scuba diving freaks me out.

        The photos are gorgeous though!

  2. Ashlea November 21, 2010 at 12:17 PM #

    I feel like you would feel just like The Little Mermaid. But that’s the 5 year old girl in me talking : )

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 5:50 AM #

      I definitely had Under the Sea stuck in my head all day.

  3. Chris - The Aussie Nomad November 21, 2010 at 12:20 PM #

    With views like that I’d be under the water all the time. Last time I was at the Great Barrier Reef I was all of about 10 years old from memory.

    Don’t worry about the rain mate, summer’s on its way and pretty soon you’ll be as tanned as the rest of the locals.

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 5:51 AM #

      It better hurry up! I’m tired of being chilly.

  4. Andi November 21, 2010 at 12:50 PM #

    I am utterly convinced that humans need to be able to breathe under water!!! Diving is the BEST!

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 5:55 AM #

      haha, I still thinks it’s unnatural!

  5. Michael Tyson November 21, 2010 at 3:03 PM #

    Bugger about the rain. When Katherine and I went up for a holiday it was pretty wet too. We didn’t mind so much except the day we went snorkelling it was really choppy and chilly – the water wasn’t very inviting at all! Not exactly the warm turquoise tropical waters I had in mind!

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 5:55 AM #

      Yeah, it’s a bit dissappointing when I was expecting tropical paradise!

  6. Brooke, WhyGo Australia November 21, 2010 at 4:14 PM #

    I heart under water. Loved loved loved all the fishies!

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 5:58 AM #

      definitely my favorite thing so far in oz!

  7. AudreyDez November 21, 2010 at 6:34 PM #

    Oh wow! Amazing! You must be really proud of yourself, overcoming one of your fear to discover this beautiful underwater life, it’s really worth it! And what a chance, to be at the Grand Barrier reef, you could not expect much better! Can’t wait to try snorkeling too!

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 5:59 AM #

      Yeah, it was one of those things: How can you NOT snorkel at the GBR?

  8. Kieron November 22, 2010 at 12:36 AM #

    Wow, it’s hard to believe that’s in my own country. They’re so pretty! Amy and I really must get north and check out the reef.

    • Steph November 22, 2010 at 6:00 AM #

      you definitely should!

  9. Jeremy November 22, 2010 at 9:22 AM #

    I’m doing dive 3 and 4 of 10 tomorrow here in Ko Tao. Humans ARE supposed to breathe under water. Go diving!

    • Jeremy November 22, 2010 at 9:23 AM #

      Granted, 10 dives in Thailand costs as much as 2 in Australia, but whatever.

  10. Andrea November 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM #

    I am also terrified to scuba dive but love snorkeling! I am so glad you got to do it and had such a positive experience in spite of the rain storm!

  11. Abbey (@cudawudashuda) November 22, 2010 at 3:01 PM #

    So sorry to hear about the rain! but, as you know 🙂 , most of the best on the road experiences happen when you haven’t planned for them…. good for you facing your fears 🙂

  12. Rebecca November 22, 2010 at 5:45 PM #

    I am so sorry you only had a day(!) at the Whitsundays!!

    I dove (dived?) for the first time in Cairns, but everyone said the snorkeling is better on the GBR anyway. Looks like you made a good choice!

  13. Lisette November 22, 2010 at 6:36 PM #

    We went for a quick trip to Port Douglas this easter to do some diving and it rained every day….we still managed to go diving 3 times which was great…although the visability wasn’t as good as it would be in the sunshine.

  14. Jozef Maxted November 27, 2010 at 8:24 AM #

    Ahh your blog just makes me so excited! We will be visiting Aus at the end of our travels next year, and one of the friends I am going with is a qualified scuba diving instructor!

    I’ve never dived before but i’ve done a lot of snorkling and this just looks amazing!

  15. Rease November 27, 2010 at 10:04 AM #

    I’m terrified for scuba diving as well! I have gone skydiving and paragliding but scuba diving sounds so scary. Here’s my logic- if I dye skydiving it’s going to be instant, if I die scuba diving it is going to be slow and horrible.

    • Steph December 5, 2010 at 8:56 PM #

      Seriously, I’m glad I am not the only one who feels this way!

  16. Lisette November 28, 2010 at 1:06 AM #

    Ah pity about the rain – I went to the Great Barrier Reef around March this year and it bucketed down the whole time I was there – the roads actually flooded so we couldn’t drive down a few routes, and we spotted a crocodile swimming not far from the road (the pond was now a lake)!

    Looks like you had great visibility though snorkeling and even from the underwater viewing platform – my pics didn’t turn out as well. Hopefully you will decide to take the plunge (no pun intended) to dive next time – trust me, it is worth it!

    • Steph December 5, 2010 at 8:55 PM #

      Oh man, at least we didnt see any crocodiles swimming past!

  17. Nelly December 4, 2010 at 12:45 AM #

    Great pictures! I’m beginning to like scuba diving though maybe I’ll start snorkeling first to prepare myself for the dive. I would like to live under the sea because of its majestic beauty. I’ve gone a few times collecting seashells and went underwater a few feet but the view is not as beautiful as in your pictures.

  18. Cam December 13, 2010 at 12:41 PM #

    Cool under water pics! Looks like fun

Leave a Reply