The last stop on our honeymoon was the tropical north, where the rain forest meets the reef. We flew from Ayers Rock to Cairns and then drove about thirty minutes north to Palm Cove to stay at the beautiful Sebel Reef House. I loved this place as it was like staying at a guest house rather than a big hotel. The bar was set up to serve yourself and just write down what you had and we made friends with the resident cat. The waitress politely told Chris, “we try not to encourage him” when he was feeding that cat at the restaurant. The pool area was like a fancy back yard built by someone who owed the owner money and was told to pay off his debt by building the most magnificent pool in Queensland. We loved the hot tub, except when other guests would come by and press the button for the bubbles. I realize they were trying to be nice, but the bubbles were a little too bubbly for us!
Pink, purple, baby blue and more. These are all the colors of the coral we saw while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is long boat ride off the coast. Then the boat stops and it is time to jump in. I tend to get a little panicky when I first get in the water to snorkel, usually until I get used to breathing through my mouth, but jumping into open water freaked me out a bit. Then the first thing I saw was a reef shark! I think it was more afraid than I was and swam away. Our first day snorkeling we went on a smaller boat with only about 8 people with the idea that we could get to spots that the larger boats were not allowed to go to. The snorkeling was good, but we also saw a lot of bleached coral (this was a year noted as a bad year for bleaching). We took the advice of the crew and wore sun suits to avoid getting sunburned. Even the crew wore sun suits in the water which I found surprising giving poisonous spiders, jelly fish and fire do not faze them, but they are concerned about the sun?
Day two we took the advice of the concierge at the hotel and took the snorkel trip he recommended. This turned out to be one of the best days we have had on vacation ever! It was a bigger boat, still a long ride and stopped in only one place, but it was the most incredible snorkel spot we have ever seen. Michaelmas Cay. The boat stopped near a sandy cay so it was not as scary getting in the water. We just had to swim a small distance to the coral and we could also go to the sandy cay to rest, but we rarely wanted to rest. In fact, we still regret wasting time by going back to the boat to eat lunch. The coral was so amazing, more so than the fish. We saw giant clams and the more we would just be still and watch the coral, the more we would see. We still talk about this place. It does not look very impressive in the picture, but what is underneath the water is spectacular.
Chris liked that this place was also some kind of bird sanctuary. I have an irrational fear of birds, so I did not like this part so much, but Chris loved the birds. Note that the sun suit did not cover his legs…
On the bigger boat there was no chance of being left behind since that apparently did happen to some divers at one point, which I think was the basis of the movie Open Water. Multiple times they would announce everyone had to be still and get counted before the boat left.
Next it was time to venture into the rain forest via the sky rail, except that it was quite dry due to the drought and fires. This is normally a raging waterfall, but instead it was just a trickle. We really saw the impact of global warming with the bleached coral and dry rain forest.
Due to the sunburn on the back of Chris’ legs we decided to spend the last day of our honeymoon in Palm Cove. The last few days had been amazing, but very long and tiring. We spent the day enjoying the beach and having one last bottle of champagne.
We did not dare go in the water though because it was box jellyfish season. These things are nasty…one brush against them and it can kill you. If you get medical attention soon enough, you will just be paralyzed for a little while (no worries mate!). Note the net in the water by the flags where it is supposedly safe to swim, but even the big burly Australian man we met in the local bar would not swim in it.
We wished we had one more day to go back out to Michaelmas Cay, but the honeymoon was coming to an end and it was now time to start the 25 hour journey back home to our lives as Mr. and Mrs.