A hearty breakfast.
Day two of our stay in Cairns started off in a hurry. After a wonderfully filling breakfast sans vegemite at the hotel, we sprinted off to the wharf and boarded the Big Cat, our catamaran sailing vessel that would whisk us off to Green Island in just an hour.
Green Island is the stepping off point for many reef adventures including glass bottom boats, semi-subs, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, helicopter tours, eco-tours, and relaxing on the sunny beach. Chris and I elected to snorkel and ride the semi-sub -- a boat that allows you to sit below the waterline and view the coral and other wildlife -- while Miller elected to avoid the wonderfully warm water (remember, it is late fall here) and instead rode the glass bottom boat.
Chris out in the Pacific Ocean
The semi-sub -- called the Yellow Submarine -- was our first activity.
Along the way, the guide identified over a dozen species of hard and soft corals, none of which I could recall by name, but I do know which ones to avoid touching.
The colors of the fish are beyond anything I ever imagined.
It’s as if these fish were painted with a completely different color spectrum.
Their scales appeared to radiate orange, blue, and green light.
While Chris and I were snorkeling we saw a two-colored parrot fish swim right in front of our eyes. Except it’s not two colors. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, all were clearly visible. Absolutely amazing. Also along the way we found clams wedged within the coral -- which really looked like these blue mouths coming out of a rock -- along with a starfish and sea cucumber.
The three of us about to visit Green Island. It was quite windy.
Sea cucumbers are apparently a delicacy in Asia
where they are dried and then eaten.
They are also rumored to be an aphrodisiac, but I didn’t try it out.
We were allowed to touch some coral called spaghetti coral, which has this really feathery consistent at its tips and then feels like slimy play-dough the further you reached in.
Miller, on the other hand, was as happy as a bug in a rug with his glass bottom boat tour, which included a feeding frenzy when food pellets were thrown into the water, thus attracting hundreds of hungry fishes.
Overall the experience was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to come back to explore it another time. (Note from Chris: I have never professed to be any kind of athlete, particularly in the water. Today was no exception.
The "semi-sub." You can see all the fish underwater. It was so cool.
The reef bit and scraped me, thanks to low tide, but I still made it back to shore in one piece.
Although I will not be teaching snorkeling classes any time soon, I’m glad Sheldon drug me along and tolerated my spits and sputters.
Everyone should come here and see this amazing corner of the globe.)
This evening the three of us explored the nightlife of Cairns and were surprised to find dozens of odd stores in an eclectic underground style marketplace not completely unlike Underground Atlanta. We also enjoyed more gelato and the sights and smells of the amazing restaurants.
Tomorrow we fly 3 hours to the Outback to view the Olgas and Uluru (Ayers Rock) at sunset. Stay tuned for more updates!
PS. Things that are different “down under”…
- The water really does go down the drain the other way.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road is scary!
- The money is plastic-y and very colorful…and is transparent in places.