Sleeping On The Great Barrier Reef
Featured destinations: Australia, Great Barrier Reef
Published 22 June 2016
© Jayne GormanBut we're not completely alone. Reefworld also has two caretakers and Emma, our host, onboard. I am continually impressed with the number of tasks the three of them tackle whilst animatedly making us feel as comfortable and safe as possible. A member of the crew stays on watch each time we enter the water. Within safe supervision I gleefully spend the afternoon working up my appetite swimming with parrot fish, groupers, little Nemos (clownfish) and much more amongst the multi-pronged coral, loving every minute of it as I practically have the whole reef to myself.
© Jayne GormanDinner is served at dusk. Unfortunately the clouds have hindered our sunset view but I only have eyes for the food. Whilst we were changing (Reefworld has one male and one female changing room on board with a hot shower in each) Emma cooked up a veritable Aussie feast on the barbecue. There’s steak, sausage, chicken and fish and with her encouragement we try them all. I finish my meal with a tasty cheesecake and enjoy getting to know more about my fellow guests over the good food and the sparkling wine I’d ordered on my way out to the pontoon.Lights out is pretty early on the reef as we're set for an early start but just before bed our group heads into the underwater observatory to take a look at the ocean by night. Small fish that are attracted to the light of the pontoon are acting as bait for the giant groupers who hang around hungrily. I watch their game of cat and mouse, fascinated.
© Jayne GormanUsing my torch for navigation I make my way up to ‘bed’. This is my first experience of sleeping in a swag and I’m pleased to find it’s surprisingly comfortable. Under its cosy canvas there is a light mattress, sheet and pillow. It’s hardly roughing it! As there are a few birds around I zip myself in fully but leave just a section of net above my head so I can watch the stars as I fall asleep. Far away from the lights of the mainland I can see more stars in the sky than I ever knew existed. It’s a staggering sight and a beautiful scene to fall asleep to.
© Jayne GormanI’d considered setting an alarm so as not to miss the sunrise over the ocean but I needn’t have worried. Around 4.30am the first rays peek above the horizon and a fiery arm of light reaches into my swag. I unzip the hood slightly and gaze in awe at what’s in front of me. Blurry eyed and disorientated I climb out of my cosy pouch to get a better look at the spectacle. The sea has been set alight and glows bright red; the sky and clouds a mixture of oranges and purples. Slowly, the other guests join me on the edge of the pontoon and we watch, subdued and silent, as a sincerely magical sunrise lights up the Great Barrier Reef.
© Jayne GormanThat morning the snorkelling is even better than the day before. The tide is high and the reef is teeming with marine life. I feel like I am caught up in rush hour as giant schools of silver fish pass me just beyond the pontoon. The further I swim, the more I discover. Rainbow, zebra, leopard – I see every pattern possible on the scales of the fish and even a sea turtle floats on by. The honeymooners, who are further out than me, spot an elusive reef shark. This is a highlight for many divers who seek these friendly creatures out but the couple are not so convinced. They inch a bit closer to the pontoon instead!
© Jayne GormanHaving already feasted on a fantastic cooked breakfast earlier, I’m eating again. This time it’s tea and cake. I’m advised to use the showers one last time before they are locked up for the day. Come 11am the day-trippers and new Reefsleep guests will arrive so we lap up our private pontoon for a little while longer.At the end of the 24 hours we all agree this is the best thing we’ve done at the Great Barrier Reef. Not many people can say they’ve slept in such close proximity to the world’s most famous coral. I feel very luck to have ticked it off my bucket list. Fancy sleeping out on the Great Barrier Reef yourself? Talk to one of our Experts today about adding it your Australia holiday itinerary.You might also like:7 Unique Travel Experiences in AustraliaTop 10 Reasons to Visit Australia