Finally! Over the past couple of years I have been privileged to snorkel in some amazing locations off the east and west coast of Australia, all which have regular turtle sightings. Despite this, I never had any encounters myself. I was beginning to lose hope. But all of this changed recently, off the coast of Tropical North Queensland.

The Great Barrier Reef from the air

An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns

After spending some time in Cairns and Port Douglas, I made my way north to a truly unique part of Australia. The Daintree is the oldest rainforest in the world, stretching along the coast of North Queensland it is 14 times the size of Manhattan. It’s here, where the forest meets the sea that I finally got to swim and photograph sea turtles on the Great Barrier Reef.

When I asked the guys at Ocean Safari about the chances of seeing turtles, they replied ‘yeah of course!’ But I must admit that I was a little skeptical, considering that I had been out on the reef 3 times before with no luck. But this is Cape Trib we’re talking about, and it turns out the turtles love it up there.

Once we left shore and made the 20 minute cruise out to Mackay Reef. I dove straight in to the welcoming warmth of the sea. Like shark seeking out its prey, I eagerly scanned the reef in every direction in search for the illusive hard shelled mammals.

After several minutes I decided to calm down a little and just enjoy the experience of swimming at the reef, the largest living structure on the planet.

It was then that it finally happened. Cruising past me like a hang glider sailing through the sky, a large and grandpa-looking sea turtle cruised right passed me from behind, totally un-interested by my presence.

A sea turtle in sunlight

A sea turtle soaking up QLD sun rays.

My heart began to race as I prepared my camera and started kicking my legs like mad to chase this guy down. Fortunately he slowed right down and for the next half hour I was able to share the beauty of the reef with this guy and two more of his mates who later came along.


Cruising the Great Barrier Reef

I wasn’t sure what to expect coming up here to the Daintree but it certainly wasn’t having my first encounter with sea turtles. This really is a special part of Aus, so raw and thriving with life from the forest to the sea. If you are keen to escape from civilisation and get back to nature than this is certainly the place for you. Thanks for reading. WP

A sea turtle silhouetted by the sun

Soaking up morning light