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?

 

Port Douglas Photo Diary

As the plane starts its decent and we head into the clouds, I wonder what the world will look like below them. After day dreaming about the Great Barrier Reef for such a long time, it’s surreal to be on my way there. My first glimpse of Tropical North Queensland is bright turquoise and green, and I understand after just a few moments why it’s a wonder of the world. I’ve arrived in paradise.

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All underwater photos courtesy of Wavelength Reef Cruises.

For a written, day-by-day itinerary click here.

To see my review of our stay at the Sheraton Mirage click here.

Need help packing for a trip to the GBR? See what I brought and recommend here.

Check out my Port Douglas vlog to see highlights of the hotel, helicopter flight, and more!

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3 Days in Port Douglas: A Sample Itinerary

Oh, Tropical North Queensland, you have my heart. Here’s my advice for how to spend 3 days in beautiful Port Douglas, based on what we got up to during our visit.

Day 1: Arrive at Cairns Airport and take the 1 hour, very scenic shuttle to your accommodation in PD. Explore and taste your way through Macrossan Street, the main street in Port Douglas. Step back in time and experience a true Aussie pub.

We stayed at the Sheraton Mirage. I recommend booking your shuttle in advance. I used this website and was very happy with the service. Our favorite spots on Macrossan Street were Ironbar and Court House Hotel. We also liked the happy hours at Paddy’s Irish Pub and Rustle & Hum Backpacker’s. A few of the pubs are inside historic Queenslander buildings–some built in the 1800s. I definitely felt like I was in Australia!

Day 2: Rise and shine–it’s time to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef! Then treat yourself to craft beers on the pier at Hemingway’s Brewery.

We did a full day tour with Wavelength Reef Cruises that went from about 7:30 am-4:30 pm. When visiting one of The Natural Wonders of the World, you want enough time to take as much of it in as possible. I couldn’t have been happier with our day. There were several marine biologists on board to answer questions and share interesting facts (like how blue coral is stressed and not healthy-it should be khaki, brown, burgundy, or dark green). The lunch was delicious. We got an hour to snorkel at three different sites, seeing various reef and fish at each. Wavelength knew where to go and took us to spots no other boats went to, so we had it all to ourselves. Another thing I loved was they had a staff member taking photos throughout the day that could be purchased at the end, so I didn’t feel the need to dish out $300 to buy a GoPro before the trip–and I still got the underwater photos I wanted.

Day 3: After experiencing the GBR from the water, you have to see it from the sky! Then, end your holiday on a relaxing note and spend time at Four Mile Beach or in the pool.

We decided to cross something off our bucket lists and go on a scenic helicopter flight over the reef and the rainforest. GBR Helicopters took us out for an amazing hour over Mossman Gorge, the Daintree River, and the reef (even over the infamous reef where Steve Irwin was killed). It was such a special and unique way to spend the morning-we saw turtles and sharks and sting rays and dugongs galore. After touching down, we opted for lunch on Macrossan Street before returning to our hotel. We then proceeded to spend SIX HOURS in the pool, oh happy days. The Sheraton has about 5 acres of pool, including one with a swim up bar, so we stayed entertained and relaxed the whole time.

In my opinion, Port Douglas perfectly mixes slow-paced and adventurous holiday options. There was so much more we could have done, such as visit Mossman Gorge by foot and drive up to Cape Tribulation. Looks like we’ll have to go back 🙂

To see this all in action check out my Port Douglas vlog!

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