Discovering the Great Barrier Reef & Michaelmas Cay

Jessica Peterson

great barrier reef, cairns australia

There really is no wrong way to see the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re passionate about animals like me, you’ll also want to see Michaelmas Cay, famous for its migratory birds. Thousands of terns raise their young on this tiny sand dune off the coast of Cairns, Australia.

Speaking of passions, pictured below is Simon. Rather appropriately, he works for Passions of Paradise. With a skipper that looks like this, it’s easy to get in the nautical mood.

Want to dive but not certified? First a little training. It’s your choice to snorkel or take an intro to diving. Having failed miserably at getting my dive certification a few years ago, the choice was obvious… I went for round two of ‘Things Which I Am Really Bad At That I Keep Trying to Do.’  However, less than an hour into the journey, and I was involuntarily emptying the contents of my stomach on the AFT deck. Turns out I’m not cut out for diving or bulimia. Such is life.

Those who weren’t retching were squeezing themselves into sausage casings known as jellyfish suits. They protect against the stinging creatures. When I popped in the water to snorkel sans suit, I realized they’re everywhere. My advice? Be smart, wear the suit.

Enter to win a trip to Cairns, Australia below!

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Travel and accommodations provided by United Airlines. All opinions my own.


Win a trip for two to Cairns, Australia!


Win a trip for two to Cairns, Australia! It’s easy. Simply log in to Facebook or enter your email address on the entry form below to enter. Unlock even more ways to enter just by following Global Girl Travels. Earn up to 50 entries! Tweet this giveaway daily for extra entries.


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Open to all entrants 18 years of age and older, excluding United employees. Flight must originate from Guam or Tokyo. Multiple entries encouraged! Winner chosen at random. Entry period ends June 1, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.


  1. Leah S.
    March 19, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I loved this post. We visited the GBR a few years ago, and enjoyed seeing 3 different reefs on our boat cruise. I felt horrible for the people who were sea sick the whole way there, and am thankful that we were able to enjoy the excursion.

    • Global Girl Travels
      March 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Hi Leah. Yes, sea sickness is real. I know that now! Should have taken the dramamine.

  2. Maja | Mexatia
    February 14, 2017 at 4:55 am

    Ahh poor baby! You cannot dive because of sea sickness during the boat travel or there is also something else making you feel bad? I would love to try it but something makes me nervous about it.
    Your photos are fantastic and I’m glad you enjoyed this wonderful place.

  3. Neha Verma
    Neha VermaReply
    February 14, 2017 at 5:34 am

    A wonderful giveaway. By the way, as usual, loved your snaps. Particularly the bird protecting it’s egg..that is so beautiful. Sea sickness is bad, just like any other motion sickness. I wish you overcome it with time. I used to get sick on road trips as a child, but somewhere I outgrew that.

  4. Alexandra
    February 14, 2017 at 7:15 am

    “Turns out I’m not cut out for diving or bulimia.” — oh my goodness, you had me cracking up so hard! I love your sense of humour.
    Personally, I don’t know what attracts me more to visit the GBR, the cute little birdies, the snorkeling opportunities….or Simon. I mean really, HUBBA HUBBA! Bummed that I missed out on the giveaway. I suppose there’s always next time!

  5. Kelly Ann Duhigg
    Kelly Ann DuhiggReply
    February 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

    I would live to dive in the Great Barrier reef but like you, the sea is not my friend and I am not dive certified. But Michealmas Cay sounds like a lovely place to view birds. Thanks for the info. 🙂

  6. James Smith
    February 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    The great barrier reef is a natural wonder of the world so is on my bucket list. It’s great you had the opportunity to photograph the birds whilst out at sea, you took some very clear pictures. It’s a shame you were sea sick, let’s hope next time you go out on a boat you don’t get sick.

  7. Jillian Michelle
    Jillian MichelleReply
    February 14, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    I love how bright and vibrant all of your photographs are! I’ve always wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef, but this is the first I’ve heard about Michaelmas Cay and the migratory birds! Now I absolutely must see it! I’d also love to snorkel with the jellyfish and try out diving (hopefully sans vomit lolol — so sorry you got sick!)

  8. Susanna Kelly
    Susanna KellyReply
    February 15, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Wow! Congrats to Amanda Q, what an awesome thing she won! This is a whole different side to the great barrier reef. I was just down there, but I mostly did diving and hiking in the Daintree, but you’re lovely photos brought to light a whole different side. The birds are so cute! Thanks for sharing this amazing opportunity and photos!

  9. Jackie Taylor
    Jackie TaylorReply
    February 15, 2017 at 3:48 am

    Wow, that is so awesome you got to go there. It has always been a small dream of mine to visit the Great Barrier Reef, so this post is definitely making me even more motivated to plan a trip there soon! That also must have been cool to be right up close next to all of the birds. 🙂

  10. SydneyFashionHunter
    February 15, 2017 at 7:19 am

    I have been to The Great Barrier Reef many times but I have never made it to Michaelmas Cay. In fact I had never even heard of it until just now (slightly embarrassed as I’m an Aussie lol). I will be heading back to Cairns in July to escape a bit of the harsh Sydney winter and this will be at the very top of my list!

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