Thanks to Richard from CairnsDiveAdventures.com for writing this guest blog post! If you want to dive with friendly, man-sized fish, the Cod Hole is the destination for you! Located 240km north of Cairns, on the Great Barrier Reef’s Ribbon Reefs, this dive site is world famous for its friendly family of giant Potato Cod (Epinephelus tukula). I have heard rave reviews about this site for many years and was keen to try it out, so we booked a cabin aboard Spirit of Freedom’s 3-Day Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs trip, departing Cairns on 28 February 2011 Spirit of Freedom provides luxurious liveaboard dive trips to the Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea, departing Cairns every Monday and Thursday. Trips vary from three to seven days and accommodation is available in Quad, Double and Twin Share, as well as Stateroom and Ocean View Cabins. This Cairns operator has perfected liveaboard dive trips to the Great Barrier Reef. The 37m boat is spacious, comfortable and well appointed. Its 10 crew provided outstanding customer service to the 15 guests aboard and the meals were generous, constant and delicious. Departing Cairns at noon, the first two dives of this 11 dive trip, were on Norman Reef just out of Cairns where we saw white tip reef sharks, blue-spotted stingrays, flowery cod, dotted sweetlip, titan triggerfish, a humphead maori wrasse and more. Back aboard Spirit, we feasted on roast beef followed by individual pavlovas, washed down with red wine and fresh coffee, as the captain took us 240km north to the Cod Hole, on Ribbon Reef #10. I was a little concerned about what the conditions may be like on the reefs, as Cyclone Yasi had passed through a few weeks earlier, but our first dive of the day soon allayed my fears. Waking at 6.30am, I grabbed some fruit and yoghurt before heading out for the first dive at 7am. Sinking beneath the still, deep blue waters (a comfortable 28 degrees), we were greeted by a giant potato cod hovering near the mooring line at 10m depth. What a way to start the dive! The inquisitive cod was about my size (165cm) and had no hesitation at cruising right up to your face. This gentle giant was everywhere, following us around the coral gardens, what a great way to start the day! The Cod Hole did not disappoint for marine variety, we also saw green turtles, emperor angelfish, black-spotted puffer, pennant bannerfish, flowery cods, giant clams, a lot of blue starfish, hard and soft corals and so much more. Maximum dive depth = 20.4m. Ascending 50-minutes later, we enjoyed a bacon and egg breakfast before heading down for our second dive, the Cod Hole Feed at 10.20am. There were a lot of titan triggerfish about, so we took some time in finding the right place to feed the cod, but once settled in the sand, we were soon surrounded by some very active flowery cod, potato cod, red bass and the smaller yellow-tailed fusiliers. We explored six more dive sites across the Ribbon Reefs on this trip, and each time it was like diving in an aquarium, such was the diversity and quantity of colourful corals and marine life. Spirit of Freedom, the Ribbon Reefs and Cod Hole more than lived up to the hype and was truly an unforgettable dive experience. The last night was spent anchored in Watson’s Bay off Lizard Island where we enjoyed an Aussie BBQ before a low level flight back to Cairns the following morning, enjoying spectacular views of the coastline, where the rainforest meets the reef.
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