Under the stars, under the sea, moored on Earth’s largest coral reef
From the surface, everything looks the same: a bright blue mass with some shades of green, spread across a 2000- kilometre coastline that occupies a landmass bigger than the UK. But from underneath, colours come to life; black corals create a web of patterns; sea pens flow with their vibrant orange hue, and creatures unbeknownst to the common man thrive in peace.
The Great Barrier Reef, a continental mass of corals, is the planet’s largest living organism, breathing underwater and creating a balance in between man and marine life. Far off the coast of Queensland, Australia, this eighteen-million-years old wonder continues to thrive as a remnant of Pangea’s past glory—to remind everyone that there is still so much mystery to the Earth yet unsolved, so much treasures of the planet to keep.
UNESCO World Heritage has marked the reef with severe importance; the area is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 30 species of marine mammals and more than 200 varieties of birds nesting across the coast. At the Low Isles, dwarf minke whales reside on the ribbon reefs, splashing their gargantuan bodies against the thick, heavy waves. Humpback whales regularly burst across the surface with their calves. It is the place for the curious, for there is a bounty of new things one can discover, or find joy in.
On Hamilton Island, green turtles nest by the coastline. Monitor lizards own their territory at the aptly named Lizard Island, home to the Cod Hole and a plethora of diving bays. Deep inside the jungle—a lush contiguous rainforest north of Queensland—are forest dragons latched on hundred-year-old trees, and the spine-chilling sight of saltwater crocodiles floating by the surface.
Manta rays are a common view near Heron Island, as well as sharks, whose triangular tips frequent the sun-dappled waves. Off the coast of Cairns is the famous “Wonder Wall,” home to a wide variety of molluscs, fishes and turtles. When lucky, one might have a chance to spot a dugong, and take selfies with them.
There are many ways to immerse in the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. On Reefworld, it is to see the stars. As the moon beams from the night sky, the HeartPontoon by Cruise Whitsundays above Hardy Reef becomes the space for cosmic sleepers. There’s a startling sense of nothingness, just the sea and the sparkling Milky Way, all marrying in the horizon of the great blue waters.
The fresh arrival of REEFSUITES by Cruise Whitsundays this summer (Southern Hemisphere’s year-end) offer more opportunities; this time, to sleep under the sea. There are no caves or singing mermaids, only glass-encased underwater suites that allow one to slumber with an unhindered peek of the reef. The floor-to-ceiling views allow one to revel in the glorious blue; here, the corals are more vivid as a festoon of blenny, clownfish, and parrot fish swim through the coral gaps. During the day, get busy with a private guided snorkelling tour or a semi submarine tour. At night, dine under the sparkling stars. www.cruisewhitsundays.com ◼
© This article was first published online in Sept 2019 – World Travel Magazine.