Un-Freakin'-Believable!!! That's all I can really say at first when I think about my trip to the reef. I did a package deal, where I would do an introductory scuba dive, snorkel, and do a scenic helicopter flight over the reef. And all 3 components were mind blowing.
First, I attempted to dive. Now, for those who do not know, which is most of you, I have a fear of drowning. I do not tell most people (out there now), and I still love being in the water. But, if I can't touch, I panic. So, diving was going to be interesting from the get go. I had to be able to demonstrate two skills under water before we could dive. Well, the one to remove water from the mask was easy. But removing your breathing line and re-inserting it was another story. I kept panicking, having trouble getting it back in, and ending up with a mouth and mask full of water. I ended up freaking out too badly and telling the divers that I was done. I just wanted out of the water. I sat and cried. I knew I could do this. Couldn't I? I mean, I do lots of adventurous things. Why not this? Ok, besides the whole fear thing. Well, the head diver said if they had another open slot later on, I could try again. I wasn't hopeful.
Then, Johnny came calling for me within 20 minutes. I was going to give it another shot. This time, I had a new diver, Jackson. He was so cool. He pumped me up and basically said there was no other option. I had this. I could and WOULD go diving. He was patient. I tried a few times, and freaked out. Then, with everything I had in me to stay calm, I completed the skill. I was going diving! Bear in mind, my hand never left my mask the entire dive. I'll be damned if it was coming out! haha.
It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. There were so many different corals and fish - all just peacefully going about life. Some fish would swim up to you. Most were not even phased by you. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see a turtle or a shark, my two things I wanted, but wow - still incredible. I was in awe of this underwater ecosystem and the beauty it possessed. And while I was taking it all in, I couldn't help but think of how I wanted to do it again and again. When our dive was over, I was so proud of myself. The guys were proud of me too. Then, onto snorkeling. At one part of the reef, it was so shallow, that I was able to coast right over it, with the coral about 12" below me. I tried so hard not to touch it, as they ask you not to and for good reasons. I took lots of pictures. Most turned out blurry (someone had it on zoom for a lot of the time), but I did get some really good shots. It was so beautiful. And because I was in an area where I could not touch, I used a pool noodle. There, I said it. I'm not ashamed. I'm not the only one who used it. Actually, nearly everyone did. It helped me to relax and enjoy the magnificent day that I was having.
Then, there was the helicopter ride. I got to sit co-pilot!! :) SO, I had the best view (and since the pilot was hot, I really DID have the best view!) and it was so cool. We saw a group of turtles (around 35 or more), a huge sting ray, and just miles and miles of ocean.
This truly was the very best day of traveling that I have ever had. I conquered a fear. And for those wondering, no, I have no desire to dive by myself. I would consider an intro dive again with the instructor holding onto me like this time, but I would not do it alone. Facing fear is one thing, but even I'm not that brave. I will definitely snorkel again (with a noodle, hopefully), and if life is good to me, I will return to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.