SNORKELLING THE GREAT BARRIER REEF WITH WAVELENGTH
Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef is an experience on most people’s bucket list, and for very good reason!
As I’m sure most of you are more than aware, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on earth; 348,700 km² to be exact. This eco-system compiled of thousands of different marine species, 2900 individual reefs and extraordinary underwater beauty is truly a part of this world that is like no other.
I guess you can understand why it’s such a popular attraction – raking in over two million visitors every single year! I hadn’t experienced its beauty since I was only single digits of age, so I thought it was about time to re-visit this magical wonder… And boy oh boy was it special!
Before choosing the company to enjoy the reef with, it was always a priority to make sure it was sustainable; one that cared for the planet, the creatures, the environment and its passengers of course! After a lot of research, the decision was made to travel with Wavelength out of Port Douglas Marina.
The day began with a 7.55 AM check-in at the local store – with shuttle buses available from hotels around Port Douglas at no extra charge. All was smooth sailing, and we boarded our boat in no time!
The great thing about this particular company is that there are 3 different boat options depending on what you desire:
Wavelength 3 for comfortable swimmers and a smaller number of passengers.
Wavelength 4 which holds up to 46 passengers, is more suited to those that are less confident, and is also a little more comfortable on the water (pictured above).
And Wavelength 5 for private charter.
On this particular day, we set out on Wavelength 3, and I truly had the time of my life!
During our hour and a half journey to the reef, Peta and Robyn – 2 very knowledgeable deck hands and Marine Biologists – informed us of what to expect whilst out on the reef; what creatures we might see, how to make the most of our time in the water, and taught us some very valuable hand signals used to call for help and to let others know of the amazing creatures we spot!
Unlike some of the larger reef trips, Wavelength takes its passengers to 3 different sites. On this particular day, we stopped at locations on both Opal and Tongue Reef.
To begin with, we made our way to Opal reef and spent an hour swimming with an abundance of tropical fish and jellies (non-dangerous Jellies might I add, although we were wearing full stinger suits just in case), learning about the different species of coral, and exploring the surroundings at our own leisure!
It was a truly magical start to the trip, and what happened next was even more special…
Before leaving Port Douglas, the staff asked us what we wanted to see – we had heard that the day before our trip, Wavelength had come across a whale shark, which is a ‘once a year’ kind of event. Of course, we all wanted to see one, but the response we received was unfortunately that our chances were pretty much non-existent.
After leaving our first snorkel site, the captain decided to check back to the same location that the whale shark was previously spotted… And guess what, another one was there!
Never in a million years did I think that I would see the world’s largest fish on our trip to the reef, so being able to swim with one was truly something of magic.
One of the staff members jumped into the water to capture some images, and after a few minutes, the rest of the passengers were allowed in too! Swimming with this 5-metre shark was something I’ll never forget… Although it was only for a few brief moments before it dove down into the depths of the ocean, this was something I had on my bucket list for many years, and with the help of my lucky stars, it somehow managed to come true!
As you can imagine, all of the people onboard Wavelength 3 were pretty damn excited! And just to make things even better, the day was not yet over…
From here, we headed to our 2nd site which included a live drop. Unlike the first site where the boat was turned off before exiting, this time we entered the water by sliding off the back whilst the boat was still moving. From my understanding, this was due to the fact that the captain couldn’t anchor his boat because of the surrounding reef, and it was a super fun experience too!
For this snorkel, we went on a guided tour with our Marine Biologist, Peta, who showed us an array of marine species that we may have never noticed if experiencing on our own. We swam in a line, stopping at things that were of interest, and learning so much about the underwater world along the way.
At this particular site, we saw 5 turtles! Pretty incredible right?
To get back onto the boat after our swim, the same process occurred… We boarded while the boat was moving! Super tiring, but super fun too.
On our way to the third and final site, we were treated to a delicious lunch consisting of a variety of salads, bread, arancini balls and quiche – 90% of which was vegetarian which I found so incredible.
Whilst indulging in our luxurious feast – considering we were in the middle of the ocean of course – Peta allowed us to ask questions about the reef, the wildlife and everything in between. Being very aware of the damages of climate change, I thought I’d ask about how the reef has been affected over time:
What I learnt is that the rise in water temperatures has caused many events of mass bleaching to occur in recent years, with the largest in history occurring in 2016. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the reefs coral died in this event, which is huge devastation to the life of this beautiful wonder of the world.
Climate change is not all to blame but is very obviously a culprit to its demise. Things aren’t looking too good as another bleaching event is predicted to happen in the summer of 2018. Though thankfully in recent months, coral spawning occurred giving marine biologists hope for the future of the reef!
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Single-use plastic is also a major issue, and Wavelength is very much on board to stop the overwhelming amount of plastic from ending up in the ocean. They are a strong advocate for ocean health, so they ensure their damage on their environment is kept to a minimum by using biodegradable sick bags (which many passengers used on the day), only using recyclable products and keeping away from one-time plastics.
Many tourists visiting this part of the world often think that snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef does more harm than good, but what became very clear was that that is simply not the case! Tourists bring money, and as Peta said “money talks”. Without the help of the tourism industry, the major issues surrounding the reef would never be discussed.
So please if you’re thinking about snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, please do! But as a tourist visiting such a fragile site, it’s very important to choose a company that actually wants to help the reef instead of slowly destroying it, and that’s why Wavelength Reef Cruises should be your company of choice! I honestly couldn’t be any more impressed!
Anyway, after learning so much about the reef, it was time for our third and final stop… Which was the best one yet!
Once again, this was a live drop and also a guided snorkel; allowing us to see as much of the hidden gems of the reef as possible. The marine life at this site was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve snorkelled in many different locations around the world, but what I saw here was truly magical.
Pufferfish, Anemone Fish, Parrot Fish and so many others that I’d never before seen.
Aside from the huge array of beautiful marine species that continued to blow us away, a reef shark was one that most of us desperately wanted to see, and once again… Our lucky stars sided and a few were able to witness it. It swam calmly from beneath some coral, along the ocean floor and into the unknown depths of the sea.
As I’m sure you can imagine, this final snorkel experience left everyone pretty exhausted. The strong current, the constant exploring and the very salty water made everyone ready to hit the hay. We left this site and headed straight back home to Port Douglas, looking out for other creatures on the way!
All in all, my experience snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef was one I will truly never forget, with all praise going to the wonderful Wavelength team.
They were eco-friendly, kind, incredibly knowledgeable and totally in love with their job. You know you’re in for the time of your life when the staff are just as excited as you!
If you’re planning on snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, look no more… Wavelength is the only company you’ll ever need!
Disclaimer: The images in this post were from my experience with Wavelength, but were taken by a marine biologist on the day. Unfortunately, my GoPro ran out of battery on many occasions leaving my captures at a minimum. I purchased these images from Wavelength to use for this post.
Pretty incredible photography right?! I definitely need to invest in such an amazing underwater camera!!
This is not a sponsored post. I just seriously love this company!
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