And as if this trip couldn’t get any more imaginably awesome, today we went to The Great Barrier Reef. One of the 7 natural wonders of the world. And if you know anything about me you’d know how excited I was. I like to tell people I was a dolphin in my past life and today I got to swim with them!
Our day started off aboard the Reef Magic Cruises ship where we were greeted by the crew and treated to some tea as we set sail toward the Reef. The ride was bumpy, but I couldn’t sit still so I sat on the deck and put my hands in the air! It was such a beautiful ride watching the chopping waters splashing around with the Australian flag dangling in the air. Once we got to the reef Seena and I went on a glass bottom tour of the Reef. Seeing the coral right under our feet was so magical. Everything was so bright and vibrant and there were fish EVERYWHERE. And as cool as the glass bottom boat was, I was itching to go snorkeling! Once we finished our glass bottom tour, Seena and I decided to have some lunch. The boat had a delicious buffet prepared for us and for some reason all I’ve been eating on this trip is fish…probably since I’m by the ocean right? But the prawns here are crazy. You literally have to behead them and peel their little feet off first. Doesn’t matter, they’re the freshest prawns I’ve ever tasted.
After lunch I was ready to go snorkeling. I got my gear on, grabbed some flippers and my GoPro and hopped in. I had no idea what to expect since I’ve never been snorkeling before and it was also raining so the waters looked dark from the outside. But once I put my head under the water…it almost exploded. There was a whole city underneath me. Hundreds of fish just swimming under me, next to me…some even smiled for the camera! (Ok maybe not- but that’s how close I was). It was such a breathtaking experience. I go hiking in Los Angeles a lot and love exploring the dry-lands, but to be able to see the what’s underneath those waters was probably the coolest experience. This living, breathing organism is full of life and right at the tip of my fingertips. I just couldn’t get over it.
Side note- I looked for Nemo and couldn’t find him, but I did find Dori!
Once my snorkeling was done it was already time to head back to Cairns to get ready for our lovely dinner with the Contiki group. We headed to Red Ochre for some fine dining. Fine Kangaroo dining that is. Yup, that’s right. Did you know that only in Australia do they eat their code of arms? And Kangaroos are the code of arms because they’re the only animal that can’t walk backwards. Either way whatever the case is, I had it, I tried it, and I loved it! It was like eating a nice juicy piece of filet mignon, but better. You have to go try it.
After stuffing our faces we proceeded to our fun activity of the night. The Contiki Pub Crawl. We started at Gilligan’s which is a fun outdoor pub that has a huge screen on the left deck and a nice stage with a live band on it. It’s not just any normal band though, they performed everything from Eminem to Taylor Swift and even Calvin Harris. It was such a delight to see the locals dance to some of my favorite songs. I guess no matter what, we all will always have one thing in common. Dancing to music.
Our next stop was at at PJ O’brien’s another popular pub, but this was an indoor pub. I walked in and they were playing Sweet Home Alabama, our friends were dancing and laughing and I can’t really remember much after that. I do, however, remember one thing and that is the amount of fun I had. And that’s all that matters!
Tomorrow I’ll tell you the story of how I got to watch the sunrise over Cairns in a hot air balloon.
-Rita Manoukian, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles