I have been wanting to try this out for some time, since some of my friends have taken this up and seemed to love it so much. So since I was in Cairns, I knew that I could not come home without doing this. An opportunity not to be missed most definitely!
And I did it!
My sister and I decided to go with Ocean Spirit Cruises after going through a few options (there were so many!) and we're happy with our choice. It wasn't the best day to go but weather was fairly good. They forecasted it to be rather windy that day; 2o knots which is equivalent to 23 MPH, but we opt to go on that day since my sister worked on the other days and the day after I was to fly back to Melbourne.
Beaufort Wind Scale
Windspeed in MPH
Description - Visible Condition
0 Calm smoke rises vertically
1 - 4 Light air direction of wind shown by smoke but not by wind vanes
4 - 7 Light breeze wind felt on face; leaves rustle; ordinary wind vane moved by wind 8 - 12 Gentle breeze leaves and small twigs in constant motion; wind extends light flag
13 - 18 Moderate breeze raises dust and loose paper; small branches are moved
19 - 24 Fresh breeze small trees in leaf begin to sway; crested wavelets form on inland water
25 - 31 Strong breeze large branches in motion; telephone wires whistle; umbrellas used with difficulty
32 - 38 Moderate gale whole trees in motion; inconvenience in walking against wind
39 - 46 Fresh gale breaks twigs off trees; generally impedes progress
47 - 54 Strong gale slight structural damage occurs; chimney pots and slates removed
55 - 63 Whole gale trees uprooted; considerable structural damage occurs
64 - 72 Storm very rarely experienced; accompanied by widespread damage
73+ Hurricane devastation occurs
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We were given a half hour briefing on the basics of diving. Since it was my introductory dive and also the first for 80% of us on the catamaran, we were all so excited!!
The hand signals were taught (can't be talking with the mouthpiece underwater right?), how to breathe, equalizing techniques - this is done to equal the pressure in your ear and water and a few diving tips.
We made two stops during our trip, one at Oyster Reef and the other at Upolu Reef. As the catamaran is a quite big, to get to the reef, we had to swim about 150 meters. It was a different experience for me as the few snorkeling trips I went to in Redang & Phuket, I was dropped right at the waters with the fishes by a speed boat. Even for someone who's been swimming since I was 3 years old, it wasn't so easy with the strong current and choppy waters there.
One other thing, life jackets were not compulsory to be worn (you can request for one of the boat) but I opt for a noodle instead, it's a noodle shaped float so that I can hang on to something when I get tired swimming :p During that trip, I think only a Japanese guy used a life jacket, I assumed that he couldn't swim. The life guard on the speed boat told him he needed to swim faster if not he will not be able to make it to the reef! I think he managed to reach the reef after strugling quite a bit.
At Upolu Reef, our second stop is where we were going to dive. We were grouped into teams. My sister and I, and an American girl were going for our first dive together with the PADI instructors. We are not certified divers, and we were guided by the PADI certified divers.
The dive was for half and hour, and it was an experience I will never forget. It was scary at first being 8 meters under water, but I got used to it after a good 10 minutes. I took time to adjust to breathing through the mouth and being deep down under... but as long as you're always equalizing when you need to (due to the difference in pressure as you go deeper) - you'll enjoy it!
For those who love the water, I recommend you to try this!
It's nothing like snorkeling, really. I've gone snorkelling many times and it's a wayyy different feeling.
On the way back to Cairns Jetty, we sunbathed on the upper deck. I know I'm already tanned and don't need no sunbathing, but the wind was so breezy and fresh you wouldn't want to miss it by staying inside. I managed to catch a short nap too :)
My first dive at Upolu Reef!