We woke early and met in the reception of the One&Only Hayman Island resort and made our way down to the dock, where the hotel’s yachts sat moored in the sun. Another tremendous surprise from Ovation DMC was awaiting us when we arrived as two helicopters were stationed ready to roar into life. Where they were taking us we didn’t know but the excitement of seeing the views of the islands from 500m high was already enough to make this an unforgettable experience.
We stepped on board with life jackets strapped at our hips and giant headphones clasped to our ears and, after a thumbs up from the pilot, we rose from the ground and made way across the Great Barrier Reef.
As we rose higher and higher the reef could be seen in great splodges across the blue water. The view could have been on the front of a postcard. We saw turtles floating on the surface, bobbing along with the tide and the famous heart-shaped coral, shaped only slightly larger than the helicopter we were in. We forgot that our destination was still unknown; the enthralling views from inside the helicopter had our full attention.
Approaching on the horizon were two pontoons stationed beside one of the larger green and blue splodges. The helicopter descended quickly onto the floating platforms and we exited the chopper. As we bobbed up and down on the waves, we marvelled at the tranquil ocean surrounding us and relished the isolation of our pontoon perched in the middle of it all. A raft took us from our landing spot to the second, larger pontoon where we were greeted with flipper-clad instructors wielding snorkels and goggles. Beneath our feet, thousands of exotic subterranean wildlife of all shapes, sizes and colours swam amidst the reef and, after a short safety demonstration, we joined them.
Striped, spotted and dotted fish that belonged in Disney and Pixar movies scurried after one another whilst the larger ones roamed slowly, disappearing then re-emerging from the dark blue depths of the water. I surrendered my float and let the waves move over me whilst I explored every dimension I could of the sea bed beneath me.
The space that we were able to explore was vast yet we seemed able to cover every inch of it in a 45-minute session. The tide took us safely back to the pontoon where we climbed out of the water and shook the salt water out of our hair. The group reconvened by the raft, which took us back to the helicopters as they readied for our next adventure. Our morning spent on the Great Barrier Reef was a morning to remember.