We had a very rough ride that morning. Most of the passengers on the boat had to go outside to get some fresh air and some were looking at their breakfast for the second time. Bad weather had brought rain, wind and big waves. It was not a nice way to get to the Great Barrier Reef.
The Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and it spans through 2.600 kilometres. Imagine it stretching from London to Moscow. Huge, right? I was to dive there and the thought itself was terrifying.
The weather subsided a bit and we received two safety lectures. One was for being on the boat and the second one for diving. As this was my first dive ever, my only option was an introductory dive. It means you have to be very close to an instructor at all times and you’re allowed to go only a few meters deep. Even after safety instructions they’ll let you dive only if you can demonstrate clearing water out from your mask and breathing regulator.
There were a lot of people so we had to go in groups. I was free to snorkel until they called my group. Snorkelling was just what I needed; the water was very warm and I had time to relax and prepare. Corals and fishes were two to three meters deep, so they were easy to spot from the surface. The presentation on marine wildlife earlier in the day helped us recognize different species. It was beautiful and I already marked my day as a success. But that was just the beginning.
“Group seven!” yelled someone from the upper deck. It was my turn. Lead weights, air tank, regulator, goggles, fins and I’m ready. I jumped into the water on their mark, not sure what to expect.
It’s hard to explained what happened next. The first dive ever, swimming in three dimensions, fiddling with the leaking mask and strugling to equalize the pressure in my ears while trying to see the wonders of the Reef. After a few minutes I managed to stabilize and only then I started to enjoy the wildlife. And it was spectacular. Corals of different color, some solid as a rock, others with tentacles following strong ocean currents. Fishes, all sizes and color, swimming alone or in big schools counting hundred or more. We even had the privilege to spot and swim with a couple of big sea turtles. And I must say, they’re cute.
As we were getting out of the water, mesmerized, the sun had already broken through the clouds. It was the perfect closing for the perfect experience.