Snorkelling with Turtles on the Gold Coast

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Vicky Philpott

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Written by: Ellis O'Connor

Meet Tim, the Watersports Guru

We set off from our hostel, the Surfer’s Paradise Backpackers Resort, at 7am to meet Tim the Watersports Guru in Kingscliff, just half an hour’s drive away.

On arrival we were fitted with wetsuits and quickly whisked off on the open water on a little boat. The waves soared upwards and we were all excited in anticipation for what we would get to see.

Watersports Guru

Suddenly, in the near distance, Tim spotted a school of around 50 wild bottlenose dolphins. They surrounded our boat, swimming under and staying close as we bounced along. The driver turned the engine off and we just watched as they jumped in and out of the water around us. It was a brilliant moment for all of us, considering wild dolphins in their local habitat is something that not that many people get to encounter at such close proximity.

Naturally they swam off after a while and so we kept going. We were headed to ‘Cook Island’ to swim with the turtles. I was so excited, especially after seeing dolphins so close up.

A marine sanctuary

We stopped a few feet from the island and Tim explained how we mustn’t touch the coral or swim off. He explained a few safety signals to us and we were off. One by one we perched on the edge of the boat and jumped / fell into the warm clear waters of Kingscliff on the Gold Coast. I couldn’t wait to see what I would find.

Watersports Guru Gold Coast

Among the brilliant activities that you can take part in with this company are snorkelling with turtles, whale watching, scuba diving, kayaking, free driving, paddle boarding and river cruises. Snorkelling with turtles turned out to be even greater than I could have expected.

We were altogether as a group and paired up while we snorkelled around the beautiful marine waters. The waters are filled with lots of different species and are home to many creatures uniquely native to the area. It’s maintained as a ‘Marine Sanctuary’ to give the marine life the best chance of survival, and from what I saw, it was working.

Snorkelling with turtles

The first sighting we had was of giant Eagle Rays. They swam past us slowly so we got a good chance to get a close look at the size of them. The water was so clear, we could easily see the shoals of fish swimming around from a distance.

Next up was what we came to see – the turtles. Every now and then a few would appear and glide past us, coming very close and not bothering when we wanted to take photos. Swimming so close with these relaxed creatures is something I would recommend to anyone.

Leopard sharks, blowfish, and sea cucumbers

We also were able to swim with leopard sharks, they were at the bottom of the ocean floor and quite hard to spot but when they swam past us at a low speed it was incredible. The patterns, the proximity and the presence of these creatures next to us was something else!

Leopard Sharks with the Watersports Guru

Adding to this list of awesome marine wildlife were blowfish, nemo fish (aka clown fish) and heaps of other fishies I was too overexcited to remember the name of.

The sea life was brimming. Every second you would catch a new fish or large groups out of the corner of your eye, the ocean floor was strewn with sea life habitat to keep us in awe too. Tim would free dive down and pick creatures up to show us closer. I got to hold a sea cucumber, although I wouldn’t recommend it. It felt weird. As we went he’d tell us stories of the area and the creatures we saw.

Back at Watersports Guru HQ

All too soon it was time to go home. On our way back the dolphins came out to surprise us again. It was incredible, sitting on the edge of the boat as they frolicked around us is an experience I’ll never forget.

As a group we all left our snorkelling with turtles trip elated and completely satisfied. Of course snorkelling with the turtles was an incredible encounter but we didn’t bargain on being able to swim with large eagle rays and sharks also. We also got to spend a long time in the water, as well as keeping us safe Tim was great company and had a brilliant knowledge of the area and the marine life.

The best thing about snorkelling with ‘Water sports Guru’ in the Gold Coast whilst travelling is that you never know what you come across in these beautiful waters that surround this ever expanding coast line. It’s a thrill, the mystery of whatever sea creature can be passing through, drifts past and you can connect in a way that is just not possible out with the sea. I would fully recommend this activity to anyone that loves to be in the water and wants to swim alongside a large variation of wonderful sea creatures.

The brilliant experience was topped off with a double serving of hamburgers back at the Watersports Guru HQ – a real Aussie barbie!

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