Sunlover Reef Cruises on the Great Barrier Reef think it is Time to dust off your dive boots and enjoy a tropical getaway
by Tanya Murphy
With winter fast approaching, the allure of a tropical getaway to somewhere nice and warm is undeniable. And with international borders closed for a good while yet, a trip to the world’s most famous and spectacular reef, the Great Barrier Reef, seems like a no-brainer. So if you haven’t dived in years, it’s high time to dust off those diving boots and get back into it while the deals are hot.
Now don’t worry – if you can’t remember how to tell your BCD from your SPG,* you’re not alone. It’s normal to be a bit rusty after a long hiatus. After all, most of us are not able to go scuba diving every day of the week or even every year of our life.The majority of people with scuba diving licenses are only able to use them occasionally and have long breaks in between. So – if that sounds like you, and you’re a bit worried about looking like a pelican (literally or figuratively) as you flounder about trying to remember how your dive gear works, never fear!
The team and facilities at Sunlover Reef Cruises are perfect for your safe, fun, stress-free and easy re-introduction to scuba diving in the calm, clear, protected waters of Moore Reef, just a short cruise from Cairns in Far North Queensland. Here are all the reasons why you should trust them to assist you in making a graceful and hassle-free debut back into the water, to relive the excitement and wonder of undersea exploring that you’ve been missing so much.
The most important thing about returning to diving after a long hiatus is having a Divemaster who understands and cares for you and your concerns. Sunlover have one of the most experienced teams of qualified PADI Dive Professionals on the Reef, with a wealth of knowledge and understanding to help nervous divers rediscover their confidence underwater.
Don’t feel self-conscious if you know your diving skills are rusty – most of your fellow divers are probably feeling the same way! The Sunlover team understand this, so they will be happy to give you a detailed briefing, remind you how the equipment works, answer any questions and concerns, and run you through a refresher of your skills if you wish. Simply talk to the team about any concerns you may have and they will be more than happy to tailor the dive to your experience level and needs.
Each Divemaster takes only a small group, allowing you to have the attention and service you require both above and below the water.
Tucked into a protected turquoise lagoon at the southern end of Moore Reef, the Sunlover Cruises site is sheltered from currents and swell and has ideal diving conditions year-round with visibility ranging from eight to 20 metres, making it perfect for a stress-free re-introduction to diving.
All diving is done from Sunlover’s huge, spacious and comfortable Activity Pontoon which is like a man-made island. Due to its sheltered location, it is totally stable, which makes it much more easy and relaxing to dive from than a boat. To start with, you don’t have to balance on a wobbling boat deck, leap screaming off a two-metre high platform into the water, and flail about in an undignified fashion in a huge swell to try and grab the trail line.
All you have to do is smile for the professional photographer as you cross the “red carpet” (jokes, it’s actually blue) and walk down some stairs looking as calm, confident and cool as a (sea) cucumber, onto the large waist-deep submerged platform, which is the practice and training area. Here your Divemaster can run over some refresher skills with you if you wish, before making a slow controlled descent down the ropes.
As soon as you descend, you’ll find the area surrounding the platform is a sheltered, calm, clear lagoon teeming with life from cute green sea-turtles that you can get photos with while they munch on seaweed, to schools of colourful fish against a background of flourishing coral. Other highlights include clownfish, giant clams, invertebrates from glass shrimp to nudibranchs, and possible sightings of reef sharks.
The depth of this lagoon is about 5-10 metres in depth, which makes it perfect for your first foray back into the ocean. Once you are feeling comfortable and at home in the water, your Divemaster has many options in terms of where to take you, with many spectacular dive routes available. One of the favourites is the ‘drop off,’ at the back of the reef, which slopes down to a depth of around 18 metres as you swim along the base of a spectacular vertical coral wall swarming with schools of fish.
With your Divemaster taking care of the navigating, dive time and depth, and of course getting you back to the pontoon with the required amount of air in your tank, all you have to worry about is blissing out on that joyful feeling of being weightless, and gawking at prehistoric megafauna like turtles and rays in the real-life “Land that Time Forgot,” (while of course being sure to follow all the safety instructions and directions from your guide.)
There’s a reason why a scuba diving license lasts for life. Nobody ever truly stops being a scuba diver. Whether you’re away for months, years or decades, it’s an experience so special that it’s burned into your muscle memory forever, waiting to be dusted off, just like the ability to ride a bicycle. But the longer you leave it, the more the gravity of everyday life starts to weigh you down, the more grouchy you become, and the greater the yearning becomes to return to that weightless feeling of flying underwater again. Sunlover Reef Cruises are here to help you do it. Don’t put it off any longer!
Author Bio – Tanya Murphy
Tanya has been working at the Great Barrier Reef for nine years and as a Dive Instructor and marine naturalist at Sunlover Reef Cruises for five years. When she’s not in her favourite place (underwater) she also works as a journalist, volunteers in marine conservation and moonlights as a professional musician.
* For those dying of curiosity: BCD = Buoyancy Control Device. SPG = Submersible Pressure Gauge.
Click here for Scuba Diver ANZ issue 31