tropical fish


I’ve never really seen a photo that truly encapsulates the vivid colours and beauty you see and experience when snorkelling along the Great Barrier Reef. As a first timer, I thought I would share with you some of the mistakes I made along the way and the random luck that found me because I was all alone.

Sometimes, actually a lot of the time, adventures turn into something extremely special. Small moments become vivid memories cherished for a lifetime. I had one such experience.


I have just over 6 feet in height and 18 feet is my psychological depth limit. I don’t know why that is the case but anything over that depth I instantly panic. Shallow waters are often very clear and stay that way while you are there. The same cannot be said at all depths. I’m no expert and I’ve only snorkelled a few times but it is something I love to do when I have the chance. I love snorkelling in about 10 feet of water. At around that depth, you’ll find the view is bright and clear and you feel the warmth of the northern Queensland sun on your back.


The 2 times I have experienced deep seawater scared me to death. Both came as a surprise, which is not surprising as a beginner when it comes to anything boating and the ocean. The amount of fear I felt was not. I can only describe my level of fear as similar to what I imagine how those with a fear of heights feel when being forced to take a view from the top of Mount Everest.

My goal was to try snorkelling in reasonably shallow waters because they can be found anywhere along the coast north of Cairns. I love swimming in shallow waters. I’d heard there is so much to see and experience in the crystal clear waters of north of Cairns in Queensland.


Maybe I was looking for adventure, maybe it was just the way I feeling at the time. I do know it was a mistake because I can never really share the events that unfolded before my eyes and I was little prepared. I wish I’d thought of taking a camera.

And I bet that would have just been one of the many useful pieces of advice I would have been given if I had joined one of the many snorkelling and diving tours. Being stubborn I went ahead alone.

So off I went driving up the Captain Cook Highway on my own for the first time. Within a couple of hours, I was passed Pt. Douglas and was on the longest, whitest and thinnest beach I’d ever seen. There was a very small jetty, more like walking plank.

Something attracted me to this place. The emptiness, the creamy blue skies and aquamarine seawater kissed me on the feet with the whitest sand I have seen and seen since. I just had to step in to what first appeared quite warm but within a few steps and I was now in 4 feet of water.

Within 6 steps are you are already about 8 feet in the water while you are wading knee-deep in the sand. The deep ocean was obviously not far out from this point but I took the risk to have a go at snorkelling the near the miniature jetty. I was only about 8 metres from the shoreline but it was 20 feet deep and clear. I plunged in.

I opened my eyes find myself surrounded by hundreds if not a thousand reef fish. Their colours were spectacular. They were all coming from all directions, so close and looking at me directly. Some would look from the side, some even seemed to face me and stare. There were a one especially elegant fish that came right up to me. We were looking at each other face to face either side of the glass on my diving goggles. This lasted for a number of minutes. Where they thoughts or where the words I really heard.

The experience changed me forever. I am sure the fish were talking to me. I think once you get close to nature, you can appreciate it. If more people get out and appreciate the outdoors, they will appreciate what damage our modern lifestyles are doing to the environment. Even now when I look at discarded plastic, I think back to those gorgeous fish.


Do you have a travel or outdoor adventure story you want us to publish? Let us know through the comments section below.

Jake Taylor

Jake is a global traveller who has recently called Australia his home again. If he's not travelling, he is writing about it and his experience.