Cruise from Airlie Beach out through Pioneer Bay and the Coral Sea, stopping by Hamilton Island and then heading to the Outer Great Barrier Reef before arriving at the pontoon on Hardy Reef.
As soon as we arrived, it was time to gear up with our scuba equipment and head below the surface to discover the colourful corals and aquatic life with Reef Safari Diving.
The Great Barrier Reef supports 1,625 species of fish and 1,400 coral reef species. It was amazing to dive alongside some of these on the Hardy Reef. I was on the hunt for the famous Maori Wrasse, although as I was one of the first trips of the day, he was still in hiding while I was scuba diving.
Our small group meant for a personal scuba experience, with our instructor showing us the highlights like ‘Nemo’s’ hiding in an anemone, giant clams and stunning coral formations found deeper than most snorkellers would be able to spot.
When our scuba dive time was up, I jumped straight back in the ocean for a spot of snorkelling. It was a completely different perspective seeing the coral closer to the surface. While the fish were generally smaller, they were still very impressive with vibrant colours and interesting shapes. The shallow depths of coral meant the lighting was much better for photographs too.
I had soon worked up quite an appetite and retreated to the catamaran for a delicious buffet lunch. From fresh salads, pastas and seafood – exactly what I felt like after a morning in the ocean. After cooling down in the air conditioning inside the catamaran and once my food had settled, it was time to head back into the water for some more snorkelling.
This time I managed to spot the famous Maori Wrasse! I was far out on the boundaries of the reef, and got a shock when I saw it swimming alongside me. I was so excited I could hardly keep my camera still, but still managed to dive down and spend some time checking it out up close.
Around the pontoon there were huge schools of fish, it was a cool experience swimming in the middle of them – seeing their bright yellow tails as far as the eye could see! The Great Barrier Reef is home to 133 shark and ray species, although I was glad not to run into any on this trip!
At the end of the day, we cruise back through the Whitsunday Islands on the way back to Airlie Beach. We spoiled ourselves with a relaxing massage after a long day in the ocean, which also helped to pass time. Before we knew it we were back in Airlie and saying goodbye to the incredible crew from Cruise Whitsundays.
This has to be the best value day trip to the outer reef, and made for a day I will always remember!
Location: Departs Port of Airlie