Passions of Paradise … driving a passion for the Great Barrier Reef

Tender comes to pick us up at stepping stones diving hastings reef with passions of paradise great barrier reef queensland diveplanit banner

Locally owned, carbon neutral and passionate about the Reef, Passions of Paradise Cruises launched their brand new Passions III catamaran in April 2017. With 25 different moorings on five separate reefs both north and south of Cairns, Passions of Paradise Cruises is set up to ensure you get the best possible experience on the Outer Reef on any given day.

Dive deck with rows of new gear at Passions of Paradise diving Hastings Reef Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

They have plenty of snorkelling gear for everyone on board, but the 30 sets of brand-new dive gear should get you itching to dive or become a ‘Discover Scuba Diver’ (DSD) – and what better place to try scuba diving than on the Great Barrier Reef. No prior experience needed – you receive all the instruction you need on the cruise out, with basic theory and hands-on learning with the equipment. All diving for DSDs takes place with easy access from the back of the boat, and there are guide ropes to hang onto to keep you nice and stable as you enter the watery world for the first time.

Girl DSDs jump in at Passions of Paradise diving Hastings Reef Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

Certified divers get to take the tender to explore some sites further off the main reef. We got the chance to explore four bommies around the Stepping Stones. The great thing about the Reef is you never know what you’re going to find on any particular reef on any particular day.

Bumphead parrot near surface at Stepping Stones diving Hastings Reef with Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

We discovered a bumphead parrotfish on his own up in the shallows around one of the bommies. Normally these bump head parrotfish are found in great herds, so not sure why he was on his own – a rogue male perhaps?

Christmas tree worm at Stepping Stones diving Hastings Reef with Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

The reefs we visited had some signs of damage from either cyclones or bleaching. But different reefs had been affected in very different ways. What damage there was seemed quite random even within the one Bommie or even on the one coral head. For example, you might find one coral that has obviously been knocked a-kilter by a recent cyclone, standing next to a perfectly intact large, flat Acropora.

Zillions reef at Stepping Stones diving Hastings Reef with Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

Everywhere there are signs of new corals now inhabiting areas that clearly had some coral before. These are usually led by the big, soft leather corals, and xenia – the corals that look like living daisy heads plucking particulate from the passing current.

Leather corals in flowers at Stepping Stones diving Hastings Reef with Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

The anemones are still evident on every dive. Though they bleach too, most are now back to their pinky colour much to the delight of their owner-occupiers – the mainly orange-finned anemonefish up to their usual Nemo antics. Though we did see plenty of pinks too. Other fish in abundance are the angels, butterflies, anthias, damsels, humbugs, sergeants, idols and coral trout. Check out the video at the bottom of the post.

Orange finned Anemonefish face on at Stepping Stones diving Hastings Reef with Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

There’s plenty of time for two dives and a snorkel, creating a healthy appetite for the plentiful buffet lunch. On the way back the on board marine biologist leads an engaging presentation with a chance to ask all those questions that a spell on the Great Barrier Reef generates plus the “Yeah, but what was a yellow fish?”

Or you can simply enjoy the cruise home in the sun – yes even in winter – on the outer decks of big stable catamaran.

Over the rear of the boat heading home at Passions of Paradise diving Hastings Reef Great Barrier Reef Queensland by Diveplanit

If you want a taste of what you’ll see diving the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef with Passions of Paradise check out the full two minute version right here.

Check out their winter specials on their website directly.