Snorkelling in Upolu Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Situated on the Outer Reef region of the Great Barrier Reef, Upolu Reef is home to an array of fish, coral, turtles and other sea life. It reached up to 15m in-depth so it should be one of the clearer reefs to snorkel in.
During my first full day in Cairns I took a small group day trip out to Upolu Reef. There was probably about 16 odd people plus 4 staff. Most of us were snorkelling, but there was opportunity to pay a bit extra to an introductory dive. I stuck to snorkelling.
Having pre-prepared for motion sickness I had visited a local pharmacy which recommended I try Kwells tablets. Previously when sailing from Colombia through the San Blas islands to Panama I’d taken other sea sickness pills and basically lost 48 hours because they knocked me out cold (which was the intended purpose at the time). This time though, I wanted to be lucid so I could enjoy snorkelling.
Heading out several people were sick in the 20-25 knot waters. I was fine at that point. Donning the sexy stinger suits (3 types of stingers/jellyfish in the waters at the moment) I was covered top to toe, armed with my GoPro and ready to test the waters and see what was below.
Kindly the tour company provided pool noodles which meant in the rough waters we didn’t have to worry about our ability to float… just our ability to clear our snorkels when they filled with water from the waves.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t entirely pleasant snorkelling because of how rough it was. In the first snorkel I managed to swallow a lot of sea water. However, I did sea a turtle and a giant clam!
Giant Clam, Great Barrier Reef
Turtle, Great Barrier Reef
The coral that I did see was very bleached. There were a few pockets of yellow and one or two bits of purple, but overall it was a lot of hard coral and bleached.
Still for my first Great Barrier Reef experience I thought it was pretty great with plenty of fish!
Coral and fish, Great Barrier Reef
Getting out of the water for a spot of lunch, my stomach decided to catch up with me, so I took a few more motion sick pills… however, I obviously didn’t wait long enough before getting back in the water. This time around one of the staff gave me a wet suit because I was getting cold, but soon warmed up in the water.
Probably 10 minutes in as I was attempting to clear my snorkel I discovered it’s possible to be sick in the water while snorkelling… I just hope no one else saw me! Once that was over I saw another turtle, so it was obviously worth staying in longer!
It was a nice spot to visit the Great Barrier, I’d just say that I wish I’d timed it a bit better with calmer seas.
P.S. Excuse the quality of video and photography in this post – it was my first attempt with a GoPro under water and I obviously need a bit more practise!