Week(end) 6: Great Barrier Reef
I have always wanted to explore the Great Barrier Reef. When I was here 8 years ago, I was prevented from going by inclement weather; if I'm being realistic, how many more chances will I have? Therefore, I booked a weekend trip to Airlie Beach before my last week of tournaments.
One of the best parts of touring a country with other golfers is the people you meet. I had never met Kristen before, but we played our Vic Open qualifier together, and now I'm meeting up with her and her mom in Airlie Beach for the weekend. Love how it always works out!
Our hotel had an amazing view. Unfortunately, to achieve such a view, the hotel was on top of a huge hill. I had taken a shuttle from the airport to the lobby of the hotel, but there were still hills to conquer after that. Dragging my golf clubs and suitcase up this 45 degree mountain was hands down the biggest workout of my trip. Thank goodness Kristen rescued me near the top! (Side note: bringing our luggage down for checkout was much more fun!)
On Saturday, we each went off on our different tour groups. I walked down our mini mountain to the harbour and caught a ferry. The boat stopped at Hamilton Island, and then we continued our journey to Hardy's Reef. It was then that I realized I was third-wheeling approximately 50 couples; alas, I decided it was better to see the Reef alone than not to see it at all. Besides, the crew brought up the good point that you can do the activities you truly want to do when you travel by yourself.
Before we docked at the platform, the crew had convinced me to sign up for a dive. I had taken scuba classes in college but never finished my certification. Turns out, that didn't matter! I donned a wetsuit, relearned how to breathe with the regulator, and then we were off! The instructor dragged another girl and me through the reef. It was amazing seeing the fish and coral so close, and the trip inspired me to finish my diving certification when I get home.
As much fun as diving was, the snorkeling was absolutely fantastic. The water is much clearer near the surface, and the colors were beautiful. I spent as much time in the water as I could, but time flies when you're having fun. After a brief lunch and a mini submarine tour, we had to board the boat and head home. I was a little disappointed I had not seen a turtle or small shark while I was snorkeling ("small" being the key word there), but as we were waiting for everyone to board, the people next to me spotted two turtles coming to investigate the boat.
Overall, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was an amazing experience, and I hope to return one day with family and/or friends. However, it may never reach its former glory again at the rate we're going. It is so sad to see one of nature's greatest masterpieces decaying from climate change. To those who don't believe climate change is real, go to one of the 2,900 reefs that make up this world wonder and see for yourself the dead coral and reduction of fish. Climate change is the main cause of the destruction, but water quality issues and illegal fishing both play roles as well.
More information about the plan to revive the Great Barrier Reef can be found here.
This weekend vacation within my "business vacation" was well worth it! Now I am refreshed and ready to go for my last two tournaments in the land Down Under.