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Conquering Fears in Cairns
It's not a big shock to anyone that #Australia offers plenty to do to stay #active. When I made my way up to Cairns, in hot, balmy North Queensland, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and I wasn't leaving Oz without trying my hand at #diving on the world's largest reef system.
Conquering Fears, Conquering Cairns
After a long month and a half of traveling completely by bus, I was more than ready to be in Cairns. I was finally traveling solo and had no clue what I was going to do now that I finally reached my destination.
I checked into Cairns Beach House, which turned out to be a nightmare of a hostel, but more on that in future posts. The heat in Cairns was smothering, leaving you drenched with either sweat or rain every time you stepped outside, since it’s called Tropical North Queensland for a reason.
I signed up for scuba diving classes with Cairns Dive Centre, which included two days in the classroom and two days on a liveaboard boat on the Great Barrier Reef.
Budget Open Water Dive Course in Cairns
Lizard Island Resort
Helicopter Cascade Flight Over Cairns
I get panicky thinking about being so far down from the surface, but I knew I couldn’t come this far and not do it. The first two days went well, sitting in the classroom and getting used to all the gear in the pool. I got paired up with my scuba buddy, Jaspal, from England.
A night out with the Ultimate Party pub crawl was included with my accommodation package, so I stupidly decided to take advantage of it the night before going out to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s definitely marketed towards the single-and-ready-to-mingle and bucks/hens night crowd. I hung out with two Danish and one Swiss girl from my hostel, going from bar to bar on a double-decker bus. It’s not so much my scene, but I can’t say I didn’t have fun. I was, however, in major pain the next morning when I left at 6 a.m. to go to the dive boat.
I’ve stayed on boats before, both in Croatia and the Whitsundays, but nothing is quite like a scuba diving boat. People from all over the world are together for one thing: scuba diving. While the early schedule nearly killed me, I’m glad I chose the upgrade, with the four day class and all food on the dive boat for $500. The day started with a 6 a.m. dive, followed by breakfast, another afternoon dive, lunch, another dive, dinner and a night dive. It’s literally dive, eat, repeat. There is also the option to do a five day course to get your advanced certification, but I just didn’t have time.
By some chance, I got my Open Water Certification. I was definitely worried for a while because I got scolded for my mistakes, but I know how dangerous it can be, especially in somewhere like the Great Barrier Reef. My group celebrated our “graduation” by getting a video taken of us sipping on beer underwater.
I celebrated how far I’ve come, in Australia, up the coast, and in conquering my fears by doing something that terrified me: bungee jumping. I’d seen lots of people do it, but there’s something about being up there, feet strapped in, hanging over the edge and working up the nerve to take the leap. I was joined by a Contiki group from Canada and after watching one girl scream her way down from the 50 meter ledge, I was up next. I screamed the entire way down, including when I was dipped completely into the water, but I’ve never felt such a rush.
Immediately after getting on land, I was ready to go again. It was the perfect way to wrap up a trip with such ups and downs. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.