For over 18 months I have been helping visitors to Cairns book and organise their holidays by working in an Information Centre. ...

Saturday, 10 December 2016





Got to πŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œ that feeling that I was about to embark on another adventure and spend a night out on the Great Barrier Reef. It's a total fist pump moment (once you get over getting up early in the morning of course).
I am joining Deep Sea Divers Den on their overnight live-aboard vessel Ocean Quest... but to get there you spend your first day with their day boat, usually Sea Quest but on my day it was their newer vessel Reef Quest. Confused yet?! There definitely is a lot of "Quest" boats... 3 to be exact and all shall be revealed as I continue.
If you are a keen diver and want to get the most dives for the best price then this overnight option is the best for you. You can get at least 4 dives in each day and can stay out there from 1 night to 100 (well, perhaps not 100 but a few). 

Transfers within the Cairns CBD are included. You are taken to the Deep Sea Divers Den shop for check in before being transported directly to the boat. After a final check in on board of Reef Quest we take our fave seats out on the back top deck as we head out of Cairns Inlet.
Starting the day aboard Reef Quest. Beautiful day!
It was another amazing day out on the reef with stunning conditions. I won't bore you with the details of the day trip (you'll have to read my older blog on it!)... let's just say we visited two wonderful sites (including "Troppos" at Norman reef, a fave of mine) and capped off our day nicely when we had the chance to hang out with a very old turtle and a large White Tip Reef Shark. I was loosing my πŸ’©πŸ’©πŸ’© ....Just WOW! 
This photo captured on a Canon G16 from Snaphot Camera hire. Tara Reynolds
Jamie gives our shark the thumbs up! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Check out the link to see the very old turtle we saw

It was time to begin my overnight experience and say goodbye to Reef Quest and board the overnight vessel, Ocean Quest. The boats pull up side by side and we were gracefully lifted up by the staff, luggage handed over, hat & camera handed over. Before I knew it, I was seated in the boats dining room.
Images of Ocean Quest. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.

We were introduced to the staff who would look after us for our stay, explained the timetable and boat lay out. Ocean Quest has 3 main floors. The floor the dining room was on also had the dive deck at the back. The next floor up was sleeping quarters with a large sundeck at the back (with access to the dive deck). Up a further floor was more rooms for sleeping, the bar & lounge and an undercover outdoor deck.
The Timetable for Ocean Quest.

After the initial welcome briefing we were off to our allocated rooms. Most of these rooms are twin share with a spacious ensuite. They are roomy enough and all with adequate air con for a good nights sleep. I was bunked in with a man, you need to be prepared to bunk with either sex. It didn't really matter to me, it's only for sleeping.

The new passengers (most whom were divers) were then shown the dive deck and where all the equipment is and got allocated a tank spot for the duration of their stay. The first dive for us was at 4pm and a dive briefing was held half an hour prior. We were at Wild Side West, located at beautiful Norman Reef. Every certified diver must go with a buddy (if you are advanced) and those only with new certification could choose to go in a group with a guide ($15 each dive extra). Passengers were also on board to just do a couple Introductory Dives and a small group was going for their certification. Some were also snorkelers...like me!!!
Information on the site, Wild Side West.

Away the divers go 2 by 2 off the large dive platform followed by the guided divers. It's hot, there's very little wind so it's time to take a dip myself for a guided snorkel tour. This tour wasn't very "guided" per say... we weren't given any information about what we were seeing and just followed along. I was the one who found Nemo and showed everyone and in the latter half of the tour I found a really cool toad-fish lingering in a cave. I had that moment all to myself as the others had taken off back to the boat. I enjoyed my swim none the less. It was very puuuurteeee.
Some snorkel snaps on my G16 Camera, hired from Snapshot. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.

Dinner was scheduled for 6pm. It was a plated "Asian Style" dish of chicken and noodles. It was nice to be waited on and have a chance to chat with your fellow passengers. Unfortunately this dish didn't really do it for me... a little bland with limp soggy noodles. I had to smother it in chili & soy sauce. It was a disappointment but I wasn't there for the food!

After Dinner there was still time to catch the amazing sunset with a glass of wine. Thank you mother nature! These moments make me grateful for what I have.
Sunset photo's on my iPhone.

As night descended it was time to hit the water again! The divers were going on a night dive and some opted for Ocean Quest's unique draw card which is FLURO DIVING! Instead of regular torches divers had a UV black light torch which enhanced the colours of the corals and fish below. Brilliant! I was a little jelly watching them.
The divers are ready! A pic on my iPhone.
Photo's from Deep Sea Divers Den Website.

Another night time activity was their SHARKS IN THE DARK option. We all put on our wet suits (included), grabbed our snorkel, mask and cameras and made our way to the hydraulic platform. Once lying on our stomachs they lowered the platform so we were half in the water. From this vantage point we could see all the giant fish and divers below. Unfortunately no sharks on this night, they must have been having a party elsewhere. Boooooo! Still, it was pretty fun and unique experience no one else offers. πŸ˜Š

A nice hot shower in the spacious ensuite was just the ticket at the end of a day of water activities. Salt be gone! A couple of wines in the licenced bar and Crème Brulee for dessert pretty much nailed me to the wall... I crashed out hard that night to a gentle rock of the boat.

The next day we were greeted by another stunning glassy day. While I was still tucked up in bed the divers had all ready smashed out their first dive for the day. Hats off to them, it's a lot of dives in one day!
The beautiful morning as seen through my iPhone.

As we moved location a hot buffet breakfast was served. All the usual brekkie items, eggs, bacon, beans along with cereal, yoghurt and fruit. It was a decent mix and gave us fuel for the day ahead.

The second site was Twin Peaks at Hastings. I had been here a week earlier with not the best conditions so was keen to get in for more snorkel time and see what there is to see.
Some reef shots taken through my polarised sun glasses! Photo's by Tara Reynolds. 

For a diver, you get your usual briefing and x2 dives at this site. You can choose to snorkel instead like me 2 times but unfortunately have to come back out of the water when the divers are done with the first dive and then get back in for the second... which was a little clunky really. I had a good hour swim and felt complete enough that I didn't feel the need to go back and re-explore the site. I opted to top up the tan and chill in the sun for the remainder of the time at that site.

Around lunch is when we moved to another site. Lunch was another buffet with salads, some greens, corn & peas and chicken drumsticks in a mild curry sauce. It wasn't overly exciting... I was grateful for anything green however! I am bit of a health nut in regards to food so was pleased it was reasonably healthy.

By lunch we had also checked out of our rooms and put our bags in the hall so housekeeping can make them up. There seemed to be an army of staff helping with the service of meals and housekeeping. They were all very friendly and made you feel at home, which is what you want. It is so important to have professional, informative friendly staff on an experience like this. I believe these guys have training programs in place for staff and dive instructors which is great for those who need to get a foot in the door.

I was looking forward to another snorkel when we pulled up along side the transfer boat, Sea Quest but alas... this was not meant to be. For those staying on board for another night this was their down time. I guess it was also a time for staff to take a break or prepare for the next load of arrivals. For a snorkeler I was a little annoyed that I had nothing to do until we leave at 2.30pm. Hopefully in the future they could amend this by getting a staff member on watch so we could explore this new site or perhaps have a marine talk on all the fish and corals we saw. I was left to have an afternoon wine while I chatted with other passengers. The views were stunning, the conversation pleasant and it was a much needed break for the divers.

Come 2.30pm we said goodbye to Ocean Quest and left the same way we came, in the arms of the staff on both boats. A 90 minute transfer back to Cairns was enough time to rest and check out all my photos and reflect on my fun time out to the GBR. If you are a diver, this is the best value overnighter in town! Hopefully... with a few adjustments made in the future with the program this will be the BEST snorkelling overnight out on the reef as well 😜
Thanks DSDD!!!!!!! 😘😘😘

Also much thanks to Dave at Snapshot Camera hire. They deliver the camera to your hotel in the Cairns CBD so you have it ready for the morning!!! What a great service! You can find them here...
 The Link to find your underwater camera to hire.


My little Youtube funky fun clip of my adventure.

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