Cairns Region Guide

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Spirit Of Freedom

Travellers Tale!
Submitted By: Miriam Taylor - UK
Updated: 12-Oct-2011

The start was early. I was transferred by jeep to the Skytrans station airport, along with two other French passengers.

Once all the passengers had arrived at the airport, the two small sea-planes were made ready for boarding. Once seated, we prepared for a take off. I was expecting the tiny plane to crash, if it ever took off – it was so small! It’s size maximised the enjoyment of the flight however: we saw so much of the spectacular reef, a shipwreck, sharks and manta rays too. It was a wonderful way to begin the adventure.

The transfer from Lizard island to Spirit of Freedom is a magical experience in itself. The waters round Lizard are a spectacular azure blue. We were shipped to the boat in a tiny dinghy. I was dying to jump in the water even without dive gear!

First impressions count. Spirit of Freedom made my jaw drop. I’ve seen many boats, but none as stunning as this one. The attention to detail was superb and after a tour and general dive procedures briefing, I knew the next four days would be fun! The staff were tuned in from the beginning and knew all our names after only an hour. The cabins were great. I stayed in a multi-share bunk and although, like every boat, the space is limited, they were kept clean by the staff due to their daily room service and I never felt claustrophobic or hot due to the air conditioning in every room. I have to admit, the ocean view room, which one the guests allowed me to look at was stunning. There was much more space and beautiful reef views as well as a television, just in case you needed some personal space.

Once the “getting to know you” talks were over, we were straight into the diving. There was a huge range of experience on the boat from master instructors to those who had only recently completed their certification. ON every dive, there was the chance to be guided by one of three guides each of which took a different route depending on the ability of the divers. As an experienced diver, I was still stunned by the dives we did. There was always a fun and informative briefing so each team could plan their dives to suit them. Of course, you could go unguided at any time with your buddy.

The Ribbon Reefs showed off the best of the GBR. The smaller crustaceans and fish were in abundance. I’ve done many dives from the GBR, however, was successful in seeing things I haven’t seen before. The reef is much prettier the further north of the GBR you go due to fewer divers. It was fantastic – a photographers delight.

At Osprey Reef, the diving is suitable for all, however, experienced divers will be delighted to try some of the more challenging dives in miles deep of water, strong currents in some spots and huge walls exploding from below. Of course this is where the larger life hangs out.

The shark feed however, was my second favourite dive. Everyone was hugely excited about the prospect of seeing so many sharks in the natural habitat. The feed was amazing – I also enjoyed the aftermath when the sharks remained close to the boat. They would magically appear from the depths below and the blue all around.

My most memorable dive was after the shark feed. I managed to find the same sharks that had been feeding earlier. They were sleeping when I found them, but soon woke up at the site of divers! I ventured into a cave where they were based. The thrill of being 20m underwater, in a 5mx5m cave with approximately 6 potentially dangerous sharks at any one time was such a buzz. With so many dives under my belt, many things fail to amaze me, so I hadn’t returned from a dive with such a smile on my face for a long time and it was a refreshing change.

I can’t recommend Spirit of Freedom enough. The food, boat, staff and diving are 5*. By the end of the four days, I had made some good friends and we were all sad to have to leave!

Click here for more info on the Spirit of Freedom reef liveaboard!

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