Asia & Oceania Travel

The Great Barrier Reef Australia

Just Keep Swimming

Location: The Great Barrier Reef Australia

“Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills… When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.” – Dory the Fish from Disney’s Finding Nemo

The Great Barriee Reef


Finding Nemo is one of my favorite Disney/Pixar movies, and this past week I have had endless Finding Nemo moments and quotes running through my head.  Being

in Australia and finally snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, my thoughts have wandered to the

The Great Barriee Reef

Reef and fish

adventures of that movie and I have smiled to myself underwater and thought “Just keep swimming.”

Although going out on a snorkel trip on The Great Barrier Reef took us way over our Grand Adventure daily budget (actually everything in Australia is

The Great Barrier Reef

Birdseye view

taking us over budget), we could not come here to beautiful Cairns and not see the reef.  It’s another one of those “I don’t have a bucket list” bucket list items.  I love snorkeling and I wanted to have that once in a lifetime opportunity.

The weather on the day we went wasn’t great – grey and overcast and we even saw some rain.  I am in constant worry about my motion sickness

The Great Barriee Reef


problem, so I stood outside and watched the horizon the entire hour and half boat trip out to the reef, even when the rain started to come down.  Hey I was gonna get wet anyway right?  Luckily, thanks to massive amounts of drugs, my sea sickness problem did not materialize while on the boat.  That was a good sign!

“You got a problem, buddy? Huh? Huh? Do ya, do ya, do ya?” Dory

We booked our reef tour with Reef Magic out of

The Great Barrier Reef

Marine World of Reef Magic

Cairns which took us to the outer reef and a pontoon platform stationed there called Marine World.  We disembarked the boat to the pontoon and here we were outfitted with our snorkels, fins, masks and Lycra “stinger” suits to protect us from

Great Barriee Reef



“I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.” Dory

Reef Magic offers many options from the pontoon, all at an additional charge including snorkel safari, snuba, scuba, glass bottom boat, semi-submersible boat and helicopter rides.  But since

Great Barriee Reef

That’s us!

we had already exceeded our budget (for two of us we paid $426 Australian about $330 US), we were just interested in snorkeling.  We were dressed and ready to go pretty quickly and one of the first people in the water.

Great Barrier Reef

Us with Wally

We immediately encountered “Wally”, one of the biggest fish on the reef.  Luckily Reef Magic’s professional photographer was on hand as we entered the water and she got some amazing shots of us with Wally.  All the photos in this blog are from Reef Magic’s professional photographer.  Since we don’t have an underwater camera we have never gotten underwater photos on any of our snorkel trips on the Grand Adventure.  So, despite the fact my husband almost wet his pants when I told him the price, we bit the bullet and bought the photos for an additional $75 (about

Great Barrier Reef

Hey Wally

$60 US).

“Ahh you guys made me ink.” Pearl

Wally is a resident fish of this part of the reef.  He is an amazing species called Maori Wrasse.  This fish is a female for the first eight years of its life.  And then poof.  It’s a male.  I know – what the heck?  Isn’t that nuts?  Some times I think Mother Nature is menopausal!

Great Barrier Reef


After our encounter with Wally we began to explore the reef.  Marine World has a cordoned off section of the reef for its guests to enjoy.  Within this area there was a huge variety of corals; big, small, blue, green, orange, white.  Some are soft and rounded, others spikey and dangerous looking.  In all the

Great Barriee Reef


snorkeling I have done, I had never seen coral that waved in the current like it did here.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch.  Most of the coral we see in our lives is dead.  And while its pretty even when it is dead and dry, the beauty of live coral is spectacular.  Yes this is an incredible living

Great Barriee Reef


creature and we surely must protect it.

“Righteous! Righteous! ” Crush

So I loved the corals and kept going back for more of that but of course there were the fish. Many, many fish.  I don’t know all their names, but they really are beautiful to watch.  Some of the fish are very solitary, just going along and doing their

Great Barrier Reef


business, feeding and swimming and doing what fish do.  Other fish keep in groups, large schools that move together almost as one, weaving above and around the coral mountains.  There are some fish that are so tiny you don’t even see them until you are swimming right through them, while others

Great Barrier Reef

Giant Clam

are so big that they freak you out a bit.  Many fish are shy and you need to look inside the coral to find them.  There are also beautiful giant clams, sea slugs, squid, eels and rays.  And no we did not see any sharks.

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From this moment on, you shall now be known as Sharkbait.” Gill

We swam to the outer edge of the roped off area and we were alone in this section just as a beautiful turtle swam by on the surface.  We

Great Barrier Reef


almost missed him because we were looking down and he was swimming right next to us on the surface.  But then he dived and we watched him swim to the bottom looking for a snack.  I believe this was a loggerhead turtle.  We had seen this kind in Sri Lanka. Beautiful brown bodies and not too large.  We watched him swim away beyond the area we were confined to and into the great wide ocean.

“Saw the whole thing, dude. First you were all like “whoa”, and we were like “whoa”, and you were like “whoa…” Crush

After about an hour we went back to the pontoon to have a rest.  Reef Magic served a buffet lunch

Great Barrier Reef


that included salads and fruit, bread, chicken, sushi, lasagna, curry and roast beef.  But I only ate a little cause I continued to worry about my motion sickness.  Arne ate my share.  It all looked good.  Great Barrier ReefCoffee, tea and water was also available and a bar on the boat was open when we weren’t underway.  Clearly they have had motion sensitive passengers before and they were well stocked with ginger beer (like ginger ale, non-alcoholic). My beverage of choice.

“I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine.” Bruce the Great White Shark

The Great Barriee Reef

Fish in all sizes

We headed back out to snorkel more after lunch.  The water seemed a bit calmer but it was also more cloudy so not as easy to see – but that was okay.  We tried to swim to all the areas and to the far-reaching parts of the swimming area.  We noticed most snorkelers stayed very close to the boat.  Understandably if you are an inexperienced snorkeler or not comfortable in the water.  Reef Magic had life jackets as well as float noodles and other devices for anyone looking for a little more reassurance.

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Some are shy

We snorkeled for about 30 minutes and then decided to call it a day.  We went back on the pontoon and stretched out on a lounge chair for the next hour and a half.  Surprisingly, despite the overcast sky, it was warm and we both got a bit of a sunburn.

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My Fab Fifties Life!

Finally it was time to turn in our gear and make our way off the pontoon and back to the vessel for the hour and half ride back.  Once again I stood and watched the horizon the entire way, including during a deluge about half way home.

But I did it.  I did not get sick.  I snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef.  I can check that off the “I don’t have a bucket list”

Great Barrier Reef


bucket list.  And remembered to just keep swimming.

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” Dory

Thanks goes to the wonderful photography of Reef Magic!

Read more of our Australia adventure here



This post includes affiliate links and I may receive a commission if you buy any of these products.  Any money earned goes to help support the cost of the blog.


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  • Reply Rowena

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos. I hope to go and see the Great Barrier Reef myself someday soon!

    March 24, 2018 at 1:05 am
  • Reply Hazel

    This is such a lovely account and you clearly made the most of your day on the Great Barrier Reef. We didn’t make it to Cairns on our trip to Australia but I would love to go back and try this. We snorkelled in the Whitsundays and saw turtles but I would like to try a boat trip further out like you to see if we could spot any different coral or marine animals!

    March 24, 2018 at 6:11 am
  • Reply Chiera @ youngandundecided

    First of all your pictures are absolutely stunning! Love the Finding Nemo quotes throughout. I can’t wait to make it up to Cairns to go Scuba Diving!

    March 24, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Firstly what amazing pictures!! I would love to go to the Great Barrier Reef someday! And I absolutely love hearing dory all over this post! This is awesome!

    March 24, 2018 at 12:04 pm
  • Reply Amy Alton

    It looks amazing! Interesting that they roped off a section for you….I wonder how that works. We’re going up there in a few months and I can’t wait to snorkel and dive there.

    March 24, 2018 at 7:12 am
  • Reply Sujenne

    Omg!! This is beautiful!!!! Thanks for sharingg

    March 24, 2018 at 2:19 pm
  • Reply Ruth

    Oh wow! You know, I thought the photo with the big fish was not real. But, it is real! You guys got to see so much beauty underwater. I bet you are going to be talking about this experience for a long time. How good it feels to cross an item off the bucket list!

    March 25, 2018 at 1:33 am
  • Reply Jana Goodlife

    Amazing photos!!! Your post took me back to our honeymoon 13 years ago! We traveled in Australia and spent 3 days living aboard a boat and getting certified/diving the Great Barrier Reef. It was an amazing experience! I too suffer from sea sickness and had to take copious amounts of medication to be on the boat, but everything worked out. We are heading back there in 2020, I can’t wait!

    November 2, 2018 at 10:05 pm
  • Reply Suz

    What an amazing adventure. It is on my one day list and you have just made it an essential dive. Your images are beautiful. In the meantime i will continue to dive in the cold UK thinking about the future warm waters – one day!

    November 3, 2018 at 1:54 am
  • Reply Nathalie

    From the fabulous pics shared (how insane is that giant clam ) it was worth every penny!

    November 3, 2018 at 8:28 am
  • Reply Nicky

    I’m loving your Nemo quotes throughout! We were lucky enough to snorkel The Great Barrier Reef a few years back now, but unfortunately didn’t have a professional photographer in tow, what great shots and perfect memories for you!

    November 3, 2018 at 9:30 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Yes. the photos she took were outstanding. So glad I decided to buy them. We had a blast.

      November 3, 2018 at 9:48 am
  • Reply Bree

    Takes me back to when I lived on the Northern Beaches of Cairns. We chose a trip out to the Barrier Reef that took us to a newly discovered island in the making. No trees just bird life…trees will come later. Snorkeled off the beaches…Great for those who are unable to swim they can sit on the edge of the water and put their head under…lol…Loved living in the tropics…but yes its expensive here in Australia to travel.

    November 3, 2018 at 1:39 pm
  • Reply Alison

    Isn’t it just the best! I’ve snorkelled in many places all over the world, and nothing compares to the GBR!

    March 21, 2021 at 11:40 am
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