An Overnight Sleep on the Great Barrier Reef

I am so excited to tell you all about my trip to Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Here’s what we got up to on holiday in Australia…

For as long as I remember I have been obsessed with animals. Throughout my childhood I would watch every last episode of The Wild Thornberrys, dreaming that one day my life would be a human version of Eliza Thornberry. I may have not had the ginger hair or the braces, but I did live out my dream life of living in the bush, through play with my teddies and train sets.

I dreamed about visiting the plains of Africa, watching Giraffes and Rhinos in their natural habitat and feeling like I really was on set of my favourite TV programme. Obviously life got in the way and I opted for a more tedious career route in marketing, finding myself sat day in, day out in an office. I couldn’t be further away from that childhood dream I once had.

My favourite wildlife experience to date has to be snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef back in 2014 with my best friend Katie. We had been backpacking the East coast of Australia for two months, before descending on the town of Airlie Beach ready to explore Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia is a unique kind of country, with a unique aquatic eco-system and whether it’s the wildlife, the landscapes, the food or the history, Australia has to be one of my favourite countries in the world. It is a country with no limits and where everything you see opens your eyes to the world…

You can walk around the world biggest single rock, visit the most isolated city in the world, say hello to the world’s most poisonous jellyfish – the box jellyfish, cuddle a koala, ride a camel in the outback and my favourite, swim in one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef.

On our visit to the region of the coast, we opted for a five-day tour with Cruise Whitsunday, who themselves are eco-certified by Eco Tourism Australia, and are in partnership with Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc, a not-for-profit environmental organisation, established in Airlie Beach to engage the community to protect the marine life and aquatic environment of the Whitsunday region by 1) Removing marine debris to reduce its impacts, 2) Reducing land-based litter and littering behaviour to prevent the occurrence of local marine debris and 3) Providing care for sick and injured marine turtles.

They are also a contributor to the Eye on the Reef and Reef Blitz programs raising awareness of coral health and regularly participating in the reef monitoring surveys. We are proud to demonstrate our activities and be a key contributor for management and Eye on the Reef programs and work closely with organisations including Reef Check Australia and Coral Watch.

It’s a company we really did our research on, before heading off on a tour with them, which included snorkelling, diving, visiting Hamilton Island, walking along Whitsundays and sleeping on a pontoon above the reef. The trip included a 2-day Great Barrier Reef Adventures and Reefsleep, full day Camira Sailing Adventure, 1-day Island Hopper Pass and 5-nights’ accommodation.

My favourite day was day 4 and 5, when we headed on over to Reefworld, located 40-miles from shore on the Great Barrier Reef. It was our sole location for the next two days, as we made ourselves at home!

As we arrived we were given talks all about the reef, it’s history and a session on the animals that live around the reef and the pontoon. We then pulled on our wetsuits and jumped in the water, at first joining a group session to get to grips with the water and the reef levels. On this first session we saw turtles, sharks, rainbow fish, an array of fish species and even a Grouper, which was at least 2 metres long!

The pontoon is permanently moored on Hardy Reef and is located in one of the most spectacular stretches of the Great Barrier Reef. It is where the day guests come on board, and throughout the day there are lots of activities for guests to experience with amazing activities such as diving, snorkelling, swimming with thousands of fish, on board massages and even a scenic helicopter flight to Heart Reef!

Then at night all of the day guests disappear and the reef is become deadly quiet. During the evening you can go for a late evening snorkel, watch the water from the deck, and stare at the stars, as the sun sets. You then sleep outside in your hammock on the pontoon, listening to the sounds of the water, the sealife and the wind passing over your hammock. There is really nothing like sleeping on a pontoon in the middle of the ocean!

After an unforgettable Great Barrier Reef experience sleeping under the stars, we awoke to a feeling of being on top of the world, in a hysteria of happiness. When else can you awake in the morning on a boat in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef? The rest of the day followed with more educational talks, snorkelling before the day trips arrived and learning more about the animals and ecosystem that the reef is part of.

After we left the reef, I couldn’t help feeling like I had left part of my heart behind. I had never felt so anxious, yet exhilarated by one experience before. I had fallen in love with the reef, the animals and it’s history, in only 245 hours. And I just knew in that moment, during the boat trip back to Airlie Beach, that I would be back…..

Next on my list, is seeing some of my favourites animals, Giraffe and Rhino in the wild, and a trip to Africa is on my bucket list. To experience an African safari with Audley Travel would be the trip of a lifetime for me and one I would never ever forget.


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  • Zenbabytravel
    07/23/2018 at 11:20

    Wow what an experience ! Have spent 7 weeks in Australia when I was pregnant with my first and equally felt in love! I am an advanced PADI diver however given the pregnancy, spent a lot of time volunteering with a wildlife sanctuary in Kangaroo island as well as discovering Melbourne, Sydney and around. Planning to go back soon with the boys and certainly you put spending the night on the reef on my list 😉

    • Sophie
      07/25/2018 at 11:18

      Ah that’s amazing, love the idea of visiting kangaroo island, wish I had visited! Defo add it to your list xxx