Port Douglas, Australia

We came to Port Douglas with one major goal to accomplish: snorkel The Great Barrier Reef.  So we booked our tour a few days out and anxiously explored the town while our time to dive arrived.

Thanks to Skyler, we had the perfect hotel room located in the middle of the main street (thanks to Villa San Michele), lined with surf shops and restaurants and bookended with a beach on either side. The beaches there were interesting for two reasons: the sand was covered with miniature, perfect sand balls, created by all the crabs digging and “dumping” it out.  And the jelly fish.  Since the water was still very warm, the jellies were out and dangerous, so you had to swim in a netted area to keep safe or risk hoping vinegar would save your life after a sting.  After getting our fill of the sun and sand, we ventured in-land with a local tour called Daintree Wonder Tours to explore the Daintree Rainforest and the Mossman Gorge.  Our guide explained these rainforests as a war zone: all the trees, vines and ferns are crawling on top of each other and trying to beat one another out to get a taste of the sunlight above the canopy’s ceiling. It was really amazing to see the massive greenery and the extent the fauna will go to to grow.  Trees made a home on top of boulders, basket ferns found a stable seat high in a tree and vines weaseled their way up any possible surface.  Wild bush turkeys and blue butterflies sprinkled the 100+ million year old Daintree Rainforest.  As we hiked closer to the coast, mangrove trees lined the sandy edge. Roots exposed for oxygen; their “fingers” weaved in and out of the wet ground.  We were able to cool off in fresh water lagoons that dotted the rainforests.  Skyler practically cannon-balled in at the chance to refresh in the translucent water.  And as a treat for trudging through the rainforest, we stopped on the side of the road at a fruit orchard.  Tropical fruits that are totally unknown to us were hanging from the trees: jackfruit (tastes exactly like Juicy Fruit gum!), whittle seed (the seeds are chocolatey) and other exotic berries.  It gets even better…these exotic fruits were churned into fresh ice cream and the flavors woke up our taste buds like an alarm clock! Leah’s turn to cannonball!

What would a trip to Steve Irwin’s homeland be without some crocodile spotting?!!  In honor of the late great croc hunter, we hopped aboard a pontoon boat early one morning and coasted on the placid water to find one ourselves. After a lot of “floating log” spotting, we saw a croc emerge from the water and silence fell over the boat.  A long, spikey snout and dangerous looking tail stealthily glided by us.  We definitely didn’t want to know this creature’s capabilities.

Our great day of underwater discovery had arrived and we were beyond excited!  A two hour boat ride from Port Douglas to The Great Barrier Reef led us into the most gorgeous turquoise waters.  With our lycra stingray suits zipped, we jumped into the warm shallow sea.  Not going to lie, Leah was a little anxious about the mouth breathing part, not to mention the sharks, jellyfish, stingrays and crocs.  But once submerged, the peaceful ocean was absolutely calming and beaming with life! The massive corals were home to thousands of rainbow colored fish, sea anemone fish (Nemos!), parrot fish, electric blue fish, sea cucumbers and giant clams.  Our marine biologist on board gathered different creatures for us to learn, hold and appreciate.  Over three different dive spots through the reef, we were lucky enough to spot two white-tipped sharks, a couple massive sea turtles, a few stingrays and a bright blue star fish larger than a basketball.  Feeling much more confident at the last site, our instructor invited some of us to do a drift dive, where the boat dropped us off at one point in the reef and we swam with the current, exploring all the way to another spot where the boat picked us up.  The whole experience was absolutely blue-tiful and inspirational!  Thank you Wavelength for the once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Port Douglas is naturally gorgeous and charmingly chill and was a great Australia send-off!