Mr. Selfish and I became scuba certified in March 2012. One of the primary reasons for our certification was so that we could dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is practically every diver’s dream to dive at the GBR.
We took a short flight from Sydney to Cairns and then immediately rented a car to drive to Port Douglas, which was our home base for the three days we were in the area. The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas took about an hour and was lovely.
To make it worth our while, Mr. Selfish and I booked two consecutive days of diving. On each day, we dove three times for a total of six dives at the GBR. I contacted over a dozen dive companies and found Scuba Dave to be the most responsive and forthcoming with information. Apparently, there are only four dive boats that leave from Port Douglas and all of the tour operators will book you on one of those boats.
On our first dive, we went on the Calypso, which goes to the Opal Reef. The Calypso is the smallest boat with a maximum capacity of 75 people. It cost $295 per person for three dives with all our gear. Yes, it’s quite expensive but we figured YOLO.
The Calypso was primarily a snorkeling boat on the day we went. I counted approximately fifty snorkelers. Excluding the dive instructors, there were only nine certified divers. Mr. Selfish and I were in a group with two other certified divers and our dive guide. The diving was well-organized although I could’ve used a little more instructions and guidance prior to each dive site.
Mr. Selfish and I rented a GoPro to take underwater photos for $75, which included the 16GB disc. The photos didn’t turn out too well since we didn’t know what we were doing and the visibility wasn’t that great.
It may have been bad timing on our part but I thought that the coral and fish were going to be a bit more vibrant. I found the marine life at Richelieu Rock to be more colorful and the visibility at Bora Bora to be better.
On the other hand, we dove about ten meters away from a minke whale, which was about eight meters long. Minke whales are cousins to the humpback whales. It’s hard to tell from the photo but it was huge and it felt quite close.
After the minke whale, everything was gravy. We just enjoyed ourselves on the reef.
The next day, Mr. Selfish and I dove off of the Poseidon, which went to the Agincourt Reef. The Poseidon is a larger boat with 85 maximum capacity. It cost $285 per person for three dives with all of our gear.
The Poseidon was much more of a diving boat. There were a lot less snorkelers and many more certified divers. To accommodate the higher number of divers, the dive instructors were excellent. They provided very detailed instructions as to our gear and prior to each dive site. I found the Poseidon to be a better well-oiled diving machine than the Calypso but there is something to be said for less divers in the water.
We didn’t rent an underwater camera but did purchase a disposable underwater camera. We haven’t developed the photos yet so you’ll have to be content with the boat photos.
I liked the Agincourt Reef more than the Opal Reef, because it was a bit more colorful and vibrant. We didn’t see any minke whales though.
I would recommend both dive boats, the Calypso and the Poseidon, if you’re looking to dive at the GBR. Both boats had their ups and downs, and it is probably variable from day to day since you may get more snorkelers or divers on any given day.
Finally, I do recommend staying in Port Douglas as opposed to Cairns. We only passed through Cairns briefly, but by all accounts, Port Douglas is the much nicer town in which to stay for a couple of nights. Below are some of the photos we took at the sunset lookout from Port Douglas.