A Call to Fins: Why You Need to Snorkel on Your Next Vacation

Here’s a fact that most of us probably learned in school at some point but have likely forgotten: about 70% of Earth is covered in water. Which means that we can see/experience a lot by going on a Eurotrip, studying abroad, backpacking through Southeast Asia or Central America–but unless we make it a point to explore what’s below sea level, we are missing out on the majority of our planet. SEVENTY PERCENT OF IT. Can you truly call yourself worldly if you neglect that? Typical overland travel is absolutely amazing, but it only scratches the surface. With this in mind, here are a few reasons why you need to make snorkeling a priority on your next vacation.

You’re neglecting 70% of the Earth if you don’t.

I personally didn’t have snorkeling on my immediate radar until I was reminded of that substantial statistic. I vowed to make more of an effort to check out what was going on under water, and boy has it been impressive. This inspiration led me to snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Silfra Fissure in Iceland.

It will satisfy your inner mermaid.

The feeling snorkeling gives you is hard to describe. We all have seen a body of water and what it looks like from above–kind of glossy like that’s all there is to it. But when you have your snorkel, mask, and fins on and you dip your head into it all, you are confronted with the fact that it’s sort of endless. You can no longer imagine a vast nothingness because you’ve encountered a wonderful, astonishing ecosystem flourishing below. Gliding around you are part of a whole different world, briefly living as the mermaid version of yourself. (Cue all The Little Mermaid songs haha).

It’s less expensive and easier than diving.

Sure, diving would allow you to experience more of the underwater world, but it requires certification…so more time and more money. Snorkeling is a lot more user-friendly–you just need to be comfortable swimming.

It will help you understand the impact we are having on our environment.

The ocean can seem like a very abstract place because we don’t spend much time there. It’s easy to compartmentalize and deny the fact that our actions have consequences on this large part of our planet. However, once you visit, learn, and see with your own eyes, it puts it all into real life perspective (picking a tour company with marine biologists on board was a great decision that I highly recommend if available). For example, I can’t unsee all the stressed coral in the Great Barrier Reef. I’m more conscious now about how I contribute to global warming and other things like how bad plastic in the ocean really is. We can do something about all these issues, and seeing those parts of the world through snorkeling helps kickstart that motivation.

Because it would take you to some pretty amazing places.

As I mentioned earlier, I have now snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef (warm water) and the Silfra Fissure (freezing water): absolute bucket list experiences. That means to get snorkel at those locations, I also had to go to Port Douglas, Australia and Thingvellir, Iceland–can’t complain one bit about that. Another place that would be a dream to snorkel is the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. I’ll definitely be saving and planning to make that a reality some day.

I used Wavelength Reef Cruises to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, and I would highly recommend them. Check out their website or read about my experience here (scroll to Day 2).

Snorkeling the Silfra Fissure was made possible by this tour company. Once in a lifetime experience to snorkel in clear, freezing glacier water in between two tectonic plates separating two continents that are slowly drifting away from each other. Pinch me!

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Do you feel inspired to snorkel on your next vacation?

 

What to Wear When Visiting the Great Barrier Reef

Here’s what I packed for 4 days/3 nights in Port Douglas, which is quite warm pretty much all year round:

3 bathing suits…our hotel had about FIVE ACRES of pool, so I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in a bikini. You can definitely get away with only packing one, though! The brands pictured are SeaFolly, Triangl, and Urban Outfitters.

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One cute, summery dress for dinners out…this dress is by Mumu.

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I only wore 3 of these shirts. I wore the black, striped one from Old Navy with a denim skirt for wandering around town. I wore the flowy, white one from Free People with denim shorts when we went on the scenic helicopter flight. I wore the white graphic tank from Urban Outfitters with my high-waisted SeaFolly shorts on our final day when we walked on the beach for one last time and flew back to Brisbane. Last but not least I wore the black, low back cover up dress from Roxy over my bathing suit when we went snorkeling on the GBR.

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Here are the bottoms mentioned above: from SeaFolly, Zara, and H&M. I could have gotten away with packing way less since they are all denim and look similar. But I wasn’t backpacking, so I didn’t have to worry about packing light ūüėČ

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For shoes I had my leather Steve Madden sandals and black Reef flip flops, both of which go with basically anything. The Steve Madden ones made me feel a little more dressed up. I only wore my Birkenstocks once on the first day, so I definitely would have been fine not bringing them. We didn’t end up doing any long walks or hiking, so if you have something like that planned, bring better walking shoes. (I own two completely different pairs of Tevas that would have worked.)

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Don’t forget to accessorize and pack your favorite sunglasses, you’ll definitely need them! Another thing you can’t go without is sunscreen–and lot’s of it.

If you want to see what I got up to in Port Douglas, check out my vlog here!

To read our day-by-day itinerary click here.

You can see my review of the fabulous Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas here if you’re trying to decide where to stay ūüėČ

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Staying at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas

When planning our trip to the Great Barrier Reef, Ollie and I knew it was going to be the only true vacation of our year. We wanted to treat ourselves and stay somewhere nice. Well, nice is definitely an understatement for the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas, which far surpassed our expectations and offered all the relaxation and beauty we had hoped for. I highly recommend visiting in low season if possible. We went at the end of November when the hotel was only at 30% capacity. We basically had the whole of this stunning property to ourselves, and that felt pretty damn special. The hotel just finished renovations 2 months prior to our stay, so everything was updated and new. It was done very well, and we were all impressed. We stayed in a garden view room, which was so lovely, and our friends stayed in a lagoon room and had access to the pool straight from their balcony.

My favorite things about the hotel were the pools, swim up bar, and beach access. My husband’s favorite things were the breakfast buffet, comfy beds, and the “never-ending pool that wraps around the hotel.” He’s not exaggerating- there is almost 5 acres of pool at your disposal. We made it a goal to swim in all of them and ended up spending about 6 hours doing a pool crawl that day-I’m not complaining!¬†To have a well-rounded review, I need to mention a couple cons of the stay. The bathroom did not have a door, only a¬†window shutter (which looked nice, but didn’t offer much privacy). And the last “con” I can think of (which could have been easily avoided if I read this blog beforehand hehe) is that the hotel is about a 5 minute drive from Macrossan Street. If you plan on spending time there, you can take a convenient shuttle into town for $5 per person per way. This adds up fast if you go back a forth even a few times. Some of the shuttles offer a 3 day unlimited pass for $25. If I knew about that on day one I could have saved myself a lot of money.

Being the travel lover that I am, I could never understand why some people choose to spend their only vacation each year going back to the same place over and over again. After my stay at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas, I now understand. I think I’ve found the place I could return to time and time again. It was just SO NICE, and there’s so much to do in the area. I can’t recommend a trip to Port Douglas enough. And if you decide to go, you know where to stay!

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Check out my Port Douglas vlog to see live footage of the hotel and what we got up to when we were out and about.

For a day-by-day itinerary of our visit click here.

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