I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling in Australia these past five months, but I can positively say that I saved my best adventure for last: a weeks vacation in the one-of-a kind, breathtakingly gorgeous, Great Barrier Reef. And I was lucky enough to experience it in all its glory with my little brother as part of his high school graduation present.
Being the adrenaline-junkies that we are, we planned an epic jam-packed week full of all the activities that no one else back home dared to do with us. Due to rules about no air travel after scuba diving, we started the week off with our biggest feat: sky-diving. It’s been on both of our bucket lists and with the gorgeous Cairns weather it seemed like the perfect day to jump out of a plane. We jumped with the company Tandem Cairns, who offered not only a higher jump than most (14,000 feet), but we also got nearly 60 seconds of free-falling with views of the Great Barrier Reef before we landed safely on the beach. Both our instructors were incredibly upbeat and positive, constantly making jokes and keeping the mood light which made the whole experience extra enjoyable. And my instructor even let me steer our parachute solo which was an awesome experience!
Day two we tackled another big jump: bungee jumping from 164 feet at AJ Hackett Cairns. Despite having just fallen out of a plane less than 24 hours earlier, both of us shared the sentiment that bungee jumping seemed much scarier than sky-diving. And it definitely played out that way. I think it was having to walk up several stories of stairs to get to the ledge that made it much scarier. You could see just how high you were getting, knowing that you were going to have to willingly jump off. Meanwhile, with skydiving everything was so small from the plane it didn’t even seem real, and any second thoughts you were having didn’t matter because the instructor made the jump out of the plane.
Because of a special going on when we booked our jumps, we each got to jump twice for the price of one. However, after my first jump I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to handle a second! For everyone’s first round, you have to complete the original swan dive. But for your second jump (and any other jumps), AJ Hackett is unique in that it has a bungee jumping “menu” where you can choose from 16 different styles of how you want to jump off the bridge, from riding a BMX bike, to going completely nude, they literally let you do it all. My brother was braver than I and took his first jump like a champ, which meant he qualified for doing the roof jump, which was an additional 12-15 feet higher (estimate) from the original platform. And instead of jumping off, they put you in a full harness so that you could run and launch yourself off, carrying your own rope. After the screams from my first jump, they absolutely would not have let me do that one. But after calming down a bit, I did work up enough courage to go for my second time (which even surprised the workers if that tells you anything) and I opted do the “pendulum” jump, where they lower you down backwards and then drop you. You would think it would have been scarier, but in fact it was much easier to do since I didn’t have to look at the ground and someone else got to drop the rope instead of me convincing myself to jump. Matt and I both agreed that our second jumps were much more fun than the swan dives, and turned the experience around.
Our last big adventure involved swapping our bird’s eye view for an underseas perspective, and jumping into the wide blue ocean waters of the Great Barrier Reef. As the largest coral reef in the world, diving there has always been a dream of mine and it was everything I hoped it would be! The water was incredibly calm and clear so visibility was perfect. The corals were bright and abundant, there were incredible looking fish swimming right in front of us, and our guide even showed us Nemo hiding in the anemones.
Looking back on all the photos and videos it doesn’t even seem real that we got to do so much in just one week! I accomplished more on my bucket list in that short time than some people get to in a lifetime. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have had such amazing opportunities :).
Have you guys done (or want to do) any of these things? Which one was the scariest and which was your favorite? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!