3 Day Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs
On the morning of Monday 11 February, Spirit of Freedom departed Cairns with 26 passengers for a 3-day trip to the Ribbon Reefs. After a delicious lunch, the vessel made a quick stop at a beautiful dive site at Saxon Reef known as Turtle Bommie for a couple of checkout dives. Following more than a month of strong winds coming from the Northwest, conditions had finally begun to improve and SOF passengers were treated to a bit of normalcy and a return to the various dive sites that make this trip so special.
Tuesday morning began at the bottom of Ribbon Reef 3 with a dive at the world-famous Steve’s Bommie. SOF passengers and crew were able to find strange and often hard-to-find creatures such as nudibranchs, stone fish, wobbegong sharks, and even a lacy scorpion fish. From there, the vessel steamed north to Ribbon Reef 5 for a dive at the Clam Gardens, a site littered with giant clams, many of which can weigh several hundred kilograms. Over lunch, the journey continued all the way to the bottom of Ribbon Reef 10 for a visit to Google Gardens. This is always a special site to visit due to the extensive and beautiful coral coverage and divers can observe numerous coral species displaying nearly every imaginable colour. The site is also known for its inquisitive cuttlefish residents, which provide divers with the perfect subjects to capture awe-inspiring photographs. Finally, SOF cruised over to a site called Challenger Bay for a late afternoon and night dive. Night dives at Challenger are a real treat as divers are able to literally witness the food chain in action. As they explore the reef, divers are often surrounded by hunting sharks, giant trevally, moray eels, and numerous other predatory fish.
Wednesday kicked off with two dives at the brightly coloured Vertical Gardens, where the coral covered shallows give way to sheer drop-offs and massive gorgonian fans. For the first time in several weeks, the weather permitted SOF to return to the Cod Hole! The massive potato cod must have been happy to see us again as they arrived under the boat almost immediately. Guests were able to get face-to-face with the animals and were able to return home with a number of action shots and the ever-popular selfies. For the final dive of the trip, the vessel visited the snake pit. Although there were no snakes present, guests and crew had the chance to see a number of eagle rays and one of the largest green turtles anyone had ever seen.
After a final BBQ night filled with delicious food, wine, and cheese platters, guests were able to take a walk on Lizard Island before boarding their scenic flights back to Cairns