We were staying in Cairns for a week and planed to visit the Barrier Reef for some snorkelling. My husband is a strong swimmer and an experienced snorkeller; I am the opposite, a weak swimmer who had only had one previous unsuccessful attempt at snorkelling and can't see without my specs. On the advice of the Tourist Information office, we chose to spend a day at Green Island National Park on the inner edge of the reef, where there is a range of snorkelling to suit all abilities, as well as a swimming pool, rainforest walks and a cafe.
There are several tour companies who offer very similar trips to Green Island, we booked ours with Great Adventures.
The catamaran left Cairns at 10:30 and took 45 minutes to reach Green Island. Snorkelling equipment or a glass bottom boat trip was included in the trip cost so first stop was the dive shop to collect our snorkelling equipment. I have very poor eyesight and can't wear contact lenses, so I normally can't see at all when swimming. Incredibly, the dive shop had prescription masks for hire. There was a small additional cost of only A$4, but the mask was unbelievable, I could actually see!
My husband kept by my side and we snorkelled in fairly shallow waters off the beach. There were all sorts of brightly coloured fish and coral, all close to the beach. After 30 mins or so, I headed back to the beach and my husband was able to go out into deeper waters himself. We had another joint snorkelling session after lunch when the tide had come in further and there were a lot more fish to see.
Towards the end of the afternoon we took a walk around the island to enjoy the beautiful scenery and rainforest.
As we waited on the wooden jetty for the catamaran to pick us up at 4:30pm the tide was nearing it's highest and all sorts of sea life were visible swimming around the jetty; sharks, stingray, turtles and a shoal of 'swordfish-like' fish.
This was a fantastic day out where I was able to achieve something I never thought would be possible – snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and actually seeing the fish!