Oh it was so good to be in hot sunny weather again!

We got Cairns on Saturday and the town was not really what I expected – quite noisy and tacky. Our hostel was a world away from that though; Travellers Oasis was very chilled, with a swimming pool, palm trees and staff who go out of their way to make guests happy. We ended up staying twice as long as intended!

Cairns itself doesn’t have a beach but a short bus ride away Palm Cove is exactly as it sounds. We had a few days relaxing on the sand here and organised a trip out to the areas main attraction: the Great Barrier Reef.

There are so many operators running boats to the reef and we narrowed it down to a mid-range trip that the girls at the hostel recommended to us. It meant forgoing the champagne breakfast and helicopter flight that the pricier packages offered (!) but had less people and much better snorkelling spots than the cheaper party boats.

As we anchored next to the first reef spot the wind picked up, the boat started swaying and stomachs started turning… The crew had handed out ginger anti-sickness tablets but there were a fair few green faces hanging over the railings.

The snorkelling here was incredible. Putting your face in the water was like being dunked in an aquarium. Shoals of shimmering bright blue fish hovering above sea cucumbers and giant clams. Vibrant coral sheltering huge parrotfish, angel fish, and so many others that I’ve now forgotten the name of. Barramundi lurking under the boat. It was completely mesmerising.

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We’d both booked on to do introductory scuba dives and we cruised to another reef to do this. Unfortunately Stef was feeling seasick so had to give it a miss. I got kitted out and had to stifle a giggle when the crew insisted on helping me walk with my tank as it weighed 20kg – my backpack weighs more than that on a good day! Despite feeling really excited to go deeper into the reef, a few meters into the dive I completely freaked out and had to go to the surface. Not sure what happened there but I think I’ll save learning to dive for another day.

Anyway, I grabbed my snorkel and this time remembered the camera too! The “fush” were just as impressive here and another hour flew by.

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We were really hoping to see some sharks and turtles but none were spotted. It’s whale watching season here though so we’re going to head down the coast to Hervey Bay soon in search of those.