More Diving in the Great Barrier Reef

Our three day live aboard adventure is over and we had a wonderful time. Snorkeling turned out to be just as fun as diving: we could be with our children and close to the surface colors just pop out. The boys had a blast, seeing fish, small sharks, and even swimming with and petting a turtle.

If you're looking for a diving adventure, we recommend Pro Dive Cairns: the crew were friendly, enthusiastic, and professional, the accommodations good, and the dive sites excellent.

For an affordable stay in Cairns, we really liked Tropic Days Inn. It has great atmosphere with hammocks, a swimming pool, musical instruments, pool table, etc. The owner, Gabriel, was incredibly helpful and made us feel at home. He also owns a sister hotel in Cairns, the Travellers Oasis.

Diving the Great Barrier Reef Day 1

We're having a fantastic experience diving the Great Barrier Reef. The water is clear and warm. The fish are abundant. The corals beautiful.

Katrine and I are diving while our sons snorkel. They're full of excitement every time they return from the sea: "We saw this fish", "It was so big", "I saw a nemo fish, but it was black, so it was probably evil" :-)

Pro Dive, the Cairns-based operator we picked has been great so far. One difference with other companies is that we stay on the same boat all the time instead of transferring to a bigger boat moored permanently on the reef. This lets us get to know the crew and other passengers much better.

Biggest fish so far: a large barracuda (1.5m?) was very inquisitive during our night dive. 

Norwegian Adventure Park: Høyt og Lavt

Høyt og Lavt (High and Low) is a large adventure park filled with ziplines (some over 600m long!), rope ladders, high wire bridges, and much more. About 1.5 hours' drive from Oslo it provided a fun filled day for two dads and five kids aged 9 to 13. The park is well worth a visit if you enjoy physical activity and aren't afraid of heights. There are eleven courses of varying difficulty to choose from, including some easy & low ones for littles kids.

No word on whether the park was named for a-ha's debut album :-)

Travel tips:
  • Dress in layers. We went in cool autumn but some of the courses really get you moving!
  • Bring gloves. Unlike similar parks we've been to in Switzerland, Høyt og Lavt doesn't provide any
  • There's a snack bar but you can pack your lunch and use some of the many picnic tables
  • You will be tempted by some of the tougher courses. They're fun but be careful if you bend the rules to bring your kids along. My 11 year old son Thomas completed most of the course rated 16 year old / 160cm minimum but only because he's tall and strong. A shorter kid in front of us had to be rescued!

High in the Swiss Alps

We took a cable cabin high in the Swiss Alps, at the Pas de Maimbre above the resort of Anzere. After a few days of inclement weather, the sky was crystal clear, the air crisp, the view spectacular. The flag is that of the Valais, the "canton" (state) we're in. Thomas and I hiked down and came across a mountain pool with thousands of tadpoles all crowded at one end. When we touched them they swam away in waves, only to return a few minutes later. We have no idea why but it certainly was fun to play with them (and examine them closely!).

Forests Full of Adventure

"Adventure Forests" (Foret de l'aventure in French) have become very popular in Switzerland. They're a wonderful experience for young and, well, not so young, combining the thrills of an amusement park with physical exercise. And of course, the pleasure of being in the middle of nature.

These adventure forests consist of zip lines, rope ladders, tight ropes, and many other obstacles strung between tall trees. There are usually multiple courses of varying difficulty, each one taking 15min to up to an hour to complete. It's all pretty safe as long as you use the climbing gear they give you properly. We visited three parks while we were in Switzerland, our boys loved them! (I did too :-)

Travel tips:
  • Call ahead to find out when there are fewest "adventurers" at the park. Not being stuck behind another group makes a big difference
  • Wear light, loose fitting clothes. Some of the obstacles can be quite physical (though the tough ones always have an escape route)
  • Bring water and snacks, these are available at the park but can be quite expensive
  • Hit the restroom before you and esp. the kids put on your climbing harness :-)

No escaping commercialism... Alpine vending machine!

You're 6,000ft up a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Enjoying spectacular views, wooden glades, the sounds of nature, and suddenly you spot... a Coke vending machine!

Adventure Parks are all the rage here in Switzerland. The one we visited above the village of Vercorin is accessible by cable car. And yes, amidst 400ft long ziplines and arboreal escapades, we really did find this lone Coke machine. I guess you just can't beat the feeling... No matter where you are.

The price of a drink? 4SF or roughly US$3.70.