We booked the trip with a company called Haba and we boarded the boat around 8am. There was free tea and muffins on arrival and we were sorted into groups, people doing introductory dives, certified divers and snorkellers. So Lydia went upstairs to get her briefing about the dives and I stayed with the snorkellers for our briefing. When I told one of the crew members that I couldn't swim he just said don't worry about it, you'll be fine, which worried me a bit coz the usual response is "we'll get you a lifejacket". But when the boat anchored at the reef the guide took me out to the reef, just the two of us and a floating thing to hold on to and it was an amazing experience. He told me loads about the reef, pointed out fish and told me the names of all the different speices, he dove down and picked up different pieces of coral for me to touch, we saw turtles and an unbelievable amount of fish including a Maouri Wraase, a huge fish about 4 feet long but really big all round that was the highlight of the reef for me.
The lunch served aboard was really good then we went to our second sight which was just as good as the first and the guide took me out again for a 45 minute personal guided tour of the Great Barrier Reef. Really enjoyed the whole day and Lydia really enjoyed her dives. We hired an underwater camera for the day and Lydia took some really good pics with it. On the way back to Port Douglas we just sunbathed for most of the way home. But something I forgot to mention was, when we were booking the trip in Cairns, the girl who took the booking presumed it was our honeymoon for some reason and told us we could expect a bottle of champagne or something on board. We didn't get our hopes up and never did get any champagne or even a mention of our "honeymoon" until we were about to dock into Port Douglas and the captain made a special announcement over the speakers saying "Congratulations to Karl & Lydia from Ireland, AAARRRGGGHHH, (he actually said that, trying to be Irish), who are here in Australia on their honeymoon" then another crew member shouted out "POTATOES" in a bad irish accent, Lydia went red and everyone clapped at us! Bit of an embarrassing end to the trip but great fun anyway.
That night we we went to see some Toad Races with Peter and Lisa, a Canadian couple who had their camper van parked next to ours on the campsite. It was the funniest thing ever! The guy hosting it should have been a stand up comedian. He made all the involuntary participants pick up a taod, kiss it, then place it in the starting bucket. Some of the women were really afraid to touch the toads and the host really made a show of them. Oh, and a certain Lisa from Canada didn't do too well either - check out the pics!.
The next morning we had planned to leave Port Douglas but awoke to the heaviest rain we had ever heard at around 6am. Three weeks in Australia and only the second day we saw rain. It didn't ease off til around midday and we were told that the road we had planned to take would be flooded so we just sat around the campsite for the rest of the day and decided to leave the next morning instead. That night we tried to have a good night with the Canadians again, but the choice of entertainment was really poor. A band called the Hillbilly Goats was the highlight of the night and thats really not saying much!
The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas was really scenic and we got to the campsite late in the afternoon. Had a quick look at the beach which wasn't too impressive and the fact that it had no stinger net made it a no go area anyway. There are loads of box jellyfish around these coasts at this time of year and one sting can be fatal so we've seen loads of really nice beaches, but if they don't have a net you can't go for a swim.. We had a walk round the town and it's really nice, it's sort of a summer holiday retreat for rich people from Sydney and there was plenty of really expensive restaurants, boutiques and hotels. We got an early night in as we knew we'd to be up early the next day for the trip to the reef.