Just a city girl who dreams of dusty trails and endless oceans. www.twentysomething.com.au
Published August 8th 2017
Tick diving off your bucket list on the Great Barrier Reef
If you have been thinking about getting your diving certification for a while now, but have never got around to doing it, then there is no better place to learn than the Great Barrier Reef. With Pro Dive Cairns PADI programs, you know you are in safe hands, learning with the best of the best. You can choose between a four-day option and a five-day option. The four-day option involves two days class work and pool training at their five-star dive centre before spending two separate days on the water with an affiliate dive company. I definitely recommend the five-day course; here you get two days class and pool training, before departing on a 3 day/2 night liveaboard trip with Pro Dive Cairns on one of their custom built dive vessels. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
We found the class work easy to understand, and the instructor was very patient. You spend half of day one and two in the classroom using learning guides before your theory test. The pool work is a safe introduction to the world of diving, giving you an idea of what it is like to breathe under water (a very strange feeling at first). This gives you a chance to master your buoyancy before you enter the ocean. There is a swimming fitness test you must pass as well, although it is quite easy. If you discover during the first day that diving is not your thing, you have a chance to back out. The staff also take you to their specialty dive shop for a run down on the products, giving you an opportunity to purchase your own mask etc. if you wish.
On the third day, you are picked up from your accommodation, checked in and you board the vessel. This is when the true fun begins. Over the next three days, you will complete up to nine dives in total, including 4 training dives and 5 dives as a certified open water scuba diver. All equipment is provided, as are all your meals and bed linen. This is also a great chance to get to know travellers from around the world. The vessel contains a mixture of dive students and experienced divers, often of all different ages. With a maximum of 32 passengers, you never feel crowded. The best part is if you want to bring a non-diver along with you, snorkellers are welcome at a reduced rate.
While there has been a lot of talk about coral bleaching, the deep, cool waters of the northern outer reef seemed largely unaffected. The company has permits for a range of sites over four different reefs, so they can choose the best sites depending on the weather, tides and reef condition. Their commitment to eco-friendly tourism means these sites are in pristine condition, and the company themselves frequently conducts crown-of-thorns eradication programs. We stayed on Flynn Reef, diving nine times over 6 sites and we were never once disappointed. The sites are all very different, from coral gardens to walls on the edge of the drop-off, plus a night dive (not as scary as it sounds as most of the reefs citizens tend to be asleep). Because we chose to do our course during the winter months, we were lucky enough to witness whales on their migration path.
The water in Cairns is warm all year round, but if you are a fan of sunny days try to come during the cooler months. Pro Dive Cairns runs their five-day courses every day except Sunday in English, German on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Japanese on Thursdays. You can book online here or phone their friendly reservations team. There is plenty more information on their website if you have any questions. While it is a pricier option for learning to dive, at the end of the day there is no better feeling then that being able to say you learnt to dive on the Great Barrier Reef.