3 October 2017
A trip to Australia is not complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is massive, around 2,300 km (1,400 miles) long therefore there are many points to access the reef. It is closest to the Queensland coastline at the north end and gets further away as you move south; therefore Cairns is a popular place to disembark and Green Island is a popular destination since it is only a 45 to 60-minute boat ride. Green Island might be the most popular destination on the reef which is good and bad. The island is equipped with a small resort and amenities that are not commonly found. For more experienced snorkelers and divers, I have read there are much better locations. For amateur snorkelers looking for a family friendly day trip, it was ideal.
The kids had an absolute blast. My daughter took her underwater point-and-shoot camera and took a few pictures. They were most excited about the reef sharks and stingrays they saw, but the sharks and rays seemed relatively harmless with little interest in humans. The most imposing animal was not found in the water, but on dry land. Birds circle the picnic tables and have little fear of retribution. One stole my son’s sandwich from his hands as he was taking a bite!
Unfortunately we saw obvious signs of coral bleaching. This has become a serious environmental problem in recent years, particularly on the north end. While it was sad to see, I was glad the kids got to see it firsthand. It made a more profound impression than it would have by simply reading it in a classroom.
As part of our tour, we took a semi-submarine tour of the reef before we actually got in the water. This was fun for the whole family and got everyone excited to jump in.
Green Island was our first exposure to the Great Barrier Reef and one we will long remember.