The feeling of being watched overwhelms me, and I turn. A fleet greater than 20 strong is charting a course in my direction. With profiles like the noses of B-52 bombers, the bumphead parrotfish fix their gazes on me as they pass, and I, in turn, watch spellbound. I’m snorkeling, too transfixed by the colors of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to sit out of the water between morning scuba dives. Spoilsport, the 120-foot-long Mike Ball Dive Expeditions boat, is moored just yards away; I try to yell, hoping to elicit the attention of passengers on deck. This moment is too precious not to share, so I yelp into the tube and gesture until I hear voices.
Back on deck, I ask my boat mates if they saw the parrotfish or the gang of fledgling reef sharks in tow. Although they missed the sighting, those on board haven’t missed the opportunity to hop back into the drink, where any moment something holler-worthy will appear.
These memorable encounters explain why the Great Barrier Reef remains worthy of an around-the-globe flight. With Spoilsport, expect rewarding encounters: The dive boat ferries to private moorings at some of the most secluded spots, and its staff of nine crew and three volunteers fill tanks, prepares hearty snacks and meals and maintains a schedule that ensures visits to as many must-see sites as possible. Plus the dive boat’s nature expert teaches guests what to look for on each scuba dive — ideal for those unfamiliar with the Great Barrier Reef's marine life.
» Mike Ball Dive Expeditions Spoilsport
» PADI Five-Star Dive Resort
» 29 divers, nine crew
» Nitrox, rebreather support
» Gear, computer and camera rental
» Instructor-guided tours
» Nearest airport Cairns International (CNS)
» PADI instruction to Advanced Open Water
» Amenities: caters to beginning to advanced divers; no bottom-time restrictions; GBR ecology program and photographic services
» Contact: mikeball.com