Considering my dire swimming skills, we chose a GBR trip where you get a ferry out to a pontoon that's anchored to the sea floor. From here you can have a cup of tea, scuba dive, snorkel and look at an real life underwater aquarium from the lower level. The ferry took an hour and a half and would have tested even the sturdiest sailor's stomach. I might have felt ok if it wasn't for my hugely inconsiderate fellow passengers and their green complexions. It was a long hour and a half.
Bafflingly when we arrived on the pontoon there was a full buffet and everyone from the ferry piled into the queue. Eh, were you not just heaving over the side of the boat ten minutes ago? Dan and I felt a little too shaky to eat, so he persuaded me instead to just try snorkelling.
I was reluctant, but somehow found myself stuffed into a wetsuit, and a life jacket.
'First time?' one of the helper lifeguards asked.
I tried to explain that I was really only considering things at this stage, but he was Australian and they don't believe in faff, so suddenly I had a snorkel affixed to my face and a buoyant pool noodle shoved into my hands.
'You can't sink,' Dan insisted, 'you're wearing 8 life jackets.' And eventually, still clinging onto the railing of course, I lowered myself into the sea.
Very tentatively, I gave the breathing a go. Then I put my face in and absolutely panicked because the sea bed was very very far beneath me. I took some time to regroup, emptied my snorkel of panic water, and tried again. After a while, it was ok. And after more of a while, I started to enjoy it. After the most of a while, I couldn't believe I'd even considered not trying it.
The reef is fairly bleached. I've seen photos of its heyday and sadly there's a significant difference. But it's still beautiful and there are so many fish. We went on a snorkel tour with a marine biologist. Unfortunately no sea turtles or sharks. He'd been warned that I'm a terrible swimmer and kept checking if I was ok, which was fine, except when we were swimming back I inhaled some sea water and started coughing.
'SHE'S CHOKING!' cried out another girl on our tour, frantically trying to get his attention. I tried to wave to indicate that it really was ok, if unpleasant. But waving means panic. So then I tried to do the ok hand symbol but he was already hurtling over.
'Do you need a lifeguard to bring you back?' he shouted.
'No, really * cough cough cough *. I really, really don't. I'm fine.'
'WE CAN GET A LIFEGUARD.'
After a lot of persuasion he conceded. At one point I was worried the helicopter was going to come out for me.