We've been on vacation. I missed you all and am happy to be back in San Diego. Returning home to Australia for a month was very much needed though.

I tend to keep my personal life fairly close to my chest here on the blog, but after having longtime readers reaching out I feel it's now the right time to let you know that I ended my marriage in 2013. It is a subject that I won't be going into detail about, as I do like to keep the more intimate moments of my life private, especially for the sake of my children. I am happy though, they are happy, and although there are sure to be challenges in 2014, I'm ready to take them on with the same tenacity that I tackle most things.

With that being said, let's get back to our fabulous trip down under. We spent the first week exploring Queensland, including the Great Barrier Reef, rainforests and many other tourist destinations. The next three weeks were spent in Melbourne visiting family and friends. I'll be breaking our trip up into several posts, I'm sure you don't want to see all 1000 photos at once.

So, I will start my series of posts with a day exploring the Great Barrier Reef. What a perfect place to begin.

Doesn't this look breathtaking?

Green Island, Queensland Australia

Prior to our vacation I had booked The Great Adventures – Green Island and Great Barrier Reef Adventure Tour through the Cairns Visitor Center. The photograph above is of Green Island which was our first point of call once we had hopped aboard our catamaran.

Great Adventures Scuba Diving and Snorkeling tours in the Great Barrier Reef

The weather was perfect and the ocean was calm. We spotted huge turtles and lots of fish on our way out.

Great Barrier Reef with kids

Touring Queensland with kids

Upon arriving at Green Island we were given snorkels and fins and made our way to the beach to soak up the sun and take in the beauty beneath the surface of the ocean. Yes, even I snorkeled. Hard to believe I know. My friends and family who know that I cannot even put my face under the water in the shower were a little floored that I braved putting my face in the ocean. It took a lot of courage, but when Miss M looked at me fearful of the thought of snorkeling in the ocean I was not going to allow her to be like me. So I braved two things that day, a bathing suit in public and putting my face in the water. She was so happy to swim alongside me, even if I did think I was going to have a heart attack on more than one occasion.

Green Island: Snorkeling with kids

Green Island Snorkeling Tours

Green Island, Queensland Australia
Green Island, Queensland Australia

Green Island, Queensland Australia
We spent about two hours exploring Green Island, which would be a lovely place to get away from it all and enjoy a relaxing vacation.

Green Island, Queensland Australia

From Green Island we headed to a pontoon on the outer reef where Jay could scuba dive and the kids could snorkel again.

Great Barrier Reef: outer reef pontoon

It had been on Jay's bucket list in 2013 to get his scuba diving certification, so over the summer I arranged for him to do just that. He ended up doing two dives from the pontoon, one with a less experienced dive group and then a second with a more experienced group where he could see a little more.

Look at this handsome kid. Hard to believe he's 18 already.

Great Barrier Reef scuba diving

Great Barrier Reef scuba diving tours

Great Barrier Reef scuba diving tours
Back when Jay was learning to scuba dive we purchased a Watershot case for the iPhone 5 so that we could capture underwater shots on our trip. It was well worth it.

On the pontoon we had a fantastic buffet lunch, there was snorkeling and diving equipment available along with a variety of other things to do such as scenic helicopter flights, a semi-submersible submarine, underwater observation area and Scuba-Doo underwater scooters.

Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tours for kids

Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tours for kids
Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tour for kids

Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tour for kids

Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tour for kids
Great Barrier Reef sea life

Great Barrier Reef sea life

Great Barrier Reef sea life

Great Barrier Reef sea life

Great Barrier Reef sea life
The kids were absolutely exhausted by the time the catamaran was ready to head back to Cairns, but the view was breathtaking on the way home.

Great Barrier Reef catamaran tours with kids
And this kid spent the entire time sitting on the laps of three girls, they absolutely loved him. He stole their hearts with kisses and cuddles and telling stories about his big brother, who was a little embarrassed (and a little jealous). They were even invited to spend Christmas with us and to visit us in San Diego. Thankfully he ended up deciding to come home with me.

Great Barrier Reef catamaran tours with kids

This was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Australia

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13 comments

Kate - Catching Up With Kate January 13, 2014 - 6:57 am

Oh Tonya! Those pictures are BEAUTIFUL! It looks like it was a fun, relaxing, healing trip for all. May 2014 be filled with lots of blessings for your family! You deserve the best!

Reply
Tonya Staab January 13, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Thanks Kate. Hoping 2014 brings many more opportunities to catch up with you too.

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Tonya Staab January 13, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Thanks Shar. Missing you lady. Let’s get together soon.

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Angela January 13, 2014 - 7:08 am

So glad you were able to relax and heal. Australia is on my bucket list! Here’s to a happy, healthy new year. xoxo

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Alli @ Diapers-n-Heels January 13, 2014 - 7:23 am

What incredible pictures. Looking forward to seeing more of your trip. Many blessing for an fabulous 2014!

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Sharlene January 13, 2014 - 8:50 am

The Great Barrier Reef has long been on my list. So glad you and the kids were able to experience it. And so happy that you are happy.

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Rachel January 13, 2014 - 9:46 am

Wow. The Great Barrier Reef is on my bucket list and these pictures are solidifying it. You have a beautiful family.

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Kelly January 13, 2014 - 11:22 am

WOW! I have always wanted to go there, and your pictures make that desire even stronger! Here’s to a wonderful 2014!

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Julie Cohn January 13, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Gorgeous photos Tonya! I know you went through a lot last year, and I am hoping 2014 brings you all the love, hope, and joy that you deserve! ♥

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Katie January 15, 2014 - 1:48 pm

I’m so glad you had a great holiday. Hope to see you soon. Pics are fab!

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Joann Woolley January 15, 2014 - 3:37 pm

I’m so glad to see that you got some amazing moments to connect with your kids and build lifelong memories over the holidays. My husband and I have wanted to go to Australia ever since the Olympics were hosted there – your real life experience is reminding me of that dream. Rather than saying “hope” or “some day” I am going to put it out to the universe that I want this to happen within 5 years time.

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Jamie January 17, 2014 - 8:14 pm

Brings back sooo many memories seeing your photos. What a great experience to have with your children though… =)

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Tonya Staab January 20, 2014 - 4:31 pm

Thanks Jamie,

We had such a great time. When did you go?

Reply

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