Recently we visted Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for Sean’s National Windsurfing Championships. Hearing thousands of stories about how stunning this place is I’ve decided that Green Island is the ideal location for me to take my first windsurfing lessons! That being said the first lesson I received was that you can NEVER trust an Aussie when talking about their native animals. Never.
I’d been asking around about the shark situation at Green Island way before I had the courage to step into the clear turquoise waters. The locals laughed at me and joked that there are no sharks this far north (Sean included). Feeling like a fearless hero I was out on the water (or mostly underwater) each day, learning the ropes of windsurfing. I’ll spare the comments on how disastrous my learning curve was but I must admit that the water up on the reef was pleasant and refreshing to constantly fall into. It was only on the second last day, while walking along the pier to catch the ferry home to Cairns that we noticed a crowd of tourists pointing with excitement to something in the water. Being sure it was another amazing Green Turtle spotting I ran up to catch a glimpse.
It was not a turtle. Quite the opposite actually. All the fingers were pointing to a massive (or baby, as the locals referred to it later) 2 meter Grey Reef Shark. Needless to say it was the last time I entered the amazing waters of the Great Barrier Reef!
Outside of windsurfing (and apparently, shark spotting) Green Island is known for it’s stunning conditions for snorkeling and diving on the reef. You can stick your head under the water at any spot and meet an incredible variety of sea life. To reach Green Island we stayed in Cairns at the Cairns Holiday Coconut Resort and caught the Great Adventures ferry out to the island each day. The weekly pass for the ferry is horrendously expensive ($270 AUD) and the 45 minute boat ride itself isn’t a pleasant experience – mostly due to a common spread of sea sickness amongst the tourists on board….
Cairns is a typical tropical tourist city in Australia, mostly focused around backpacking. You can find there plenty of cheap bars and fast food restaurants including numerous fish & chips shops. It’s a perfect place to escape Australia’s winter – with July/August temperatures of around 30 degrees Celcius.
After a week of Sean’s windsurfing lessons I was able to:
– stand on the board (for a few seconds at a time)
– do a beach start
– face plant to underwater dive
– scrape my legs raw against the board
– gybe two times. Maybe three
– pose for a sick gopro selfie (which made it all worthwhile)
Over the second week on the Island, I let the professionals take over the waters, as I watched Sean compete in the National Championships from my shark-free spot on the beach.