The invitation was enticing: travel to Heron Island, in the Great Barrier Reef, to experience Uber’s world-first rideshare submarine, scUber.
Even more appealing was the cause: a joint initiative between Uber and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef to raise awareness – and funds – to protect the reef. Riding in a submarine, supporting a good cause and seeing one of the most incredible natural wonders without getting wet? Sign me up.
Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Conservation of the world’s longest coral reef system – and the more than 600 species of coral, 1625 species of fish and 1000 islands within – is no small task. Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef (founded by Earth Hour innovator Andy Ridley) works to raise awareness and activate change by inspiring a collaborative, community-led approach. As part of the scUber program, Uber is matching the cost of every scUber trip booked (that’s $3000 a pop) and has made an additional $100,000 donation to Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. Plus, the rideshare pioneers have offset all carbon emissions involved in travelling to the dive sites.
The experience starts like any other Uber journey – on land and four wheels. But after being dropped off at the airfield, things get wild. A helicopter whizzes me across the sea – a picturesque 30-minute ride from Gladstone – to Heron Island where I’m ferried to the launch vessel.
After a safety briefing with the operations crew from Aquatica Submarines, I lower myself into the three-person sub. Squeezing through the small circular opening isn’t my most elegant moment but I manage to clamber in. I take my seat with the pilot and ride buddy to my left, an endless expanse of blue visible through the domed glass around us.
The hatch is sealed shut and, for no good reason, I hold my breath as we sink below the surface. Then, any fears I had of feeling claustrophobic or seasick are forgotten as the wonder of the experience overwhelms me. I exhale and enjoy the ride as the scUber glides through the water, down to about 30 metres under the sea.
Our passage is quiet, smooth and apparently unremarkable to the marine life that surrounds us. The mass and variety of that marine life is immense: fish and coral in vivid colours, stingrays nestled in the sand, stealthy reef sharks and marine turtles floating by. It’s beautiful and otherworldly and the one-hour adventure is over before I know it.
It’s surprisingly simple. Set an alarm for 7.30am when bookings begin, open the Uber app on your smartphone, enter “Great Barrier Reef” and, subject to availability, you could be cruising over coral in the scUber submarine in a matter of hours.
The $3000 fee (for two – all bookings include both seats) includes pick up from your mainland Queensland location (geofenced Cairns, Port Douglas and Palm Cove 9-18 June), return helicopter transfers, the one-hour underwater adventure and drop off at your pick-up location.
ScUber will dive the Agincourt Reef off the coast of Port Douglas until 18 June.