First time to Australia - tips on Cairns/Great Barrier Reef and food
Replies: 31 - Last Post: Apr 19, 2013 5:17 PM Last Post By: ianw6705
Apr 3, 2013 12:43 PM
First time to Australia - tips on Cairns/Great Barrier Reef and foodHello,
I'm heading to Australia for the first time to visit friends and check out the country for a bit before starting a new job. We are two women in our early 30s coming from NYC. Our itinerary is below.
My main question is about the best way to see the Great Barrier Reef given our needs/interests. We are not divers, but I'm considering doing a one-day beginner dive (did it a few years ago at Gili islands and would love to do it again here). What would be the best way to break up our stay in this area? We are flying in and out of Cairns. Wouldn't mind a bit of nightlife and good food as well, but good snorkeling/diving and beach atmosphere where we can socialize a bit are most important since we'll get the rest in the other cities we're visiting.
We are also big foodies, so would appreciate any unique must-eat places in any of these places. We are not planning to rent a car at this time unless you tell us it's crazy (we are staying with friends in a few places, so we should be covered for the most part).
April 16 1pm - April 19 6pm CAIRNS (which island(s) to stay on or visit? anything of interest in Cairns itself? private room at a hostel is fine but can splurge up to $150/night if something better recommended is really worth it)
April 19 9pm - April 23 6pm SYDNEY (staying with a friend)
April 23 8pm - April 27 9am MELBOURNE (staying with a friend)
p.s. Ian, hope you can help since this trip is finally happening, though shorter than expected due to some time constraints :)
Apr 3, 2013 3:57 PM
Apr 3, 2013 5:47 PM
Apr 3, 2013 7:39 PM
Apr 3, 2013 8:42 PM
4Cairns itself is not much - you need to take a boat trip out to the reef to dive or snorkel, many day trips, some overnight. Most of them go from Port Douglas, but will pick up in Cairns first. For me, the highlights of visiting Cairns were the cable-car up to Kuranda and train back, the Daintree rainforest and Cape Tribulation. For the last two you will need a car, or a tour.
For beach and islands, you really need the Whitsundays, but on your schedule I don't think you can do it.
Apr 3, 2013 9:26 PM
Apr 4, 2013 4:06 AM
6When you book your trip on a boat out of Port Douglas you can get picked up in Cairns and transported. Cost $15 a couple of years ago. Consider also Cape Tribulation with places on the beach, tropical fruit farm visits and tasting--bus tours go from Cairns. Try to get a snorkel trip to the outer reef or a tourist dive----my daughter swears by her first dive at the "Cod Hole". You won't have much time in Cairns so maybe Cape Trib. not possible. Go straight to the many tourist help places along the esplanade in Cairns to book your dive---the boats leave pretty early to the outer reef and so does the bus to Port Douglas. Good luck!
Apr 4, 2013 4:11 AM
7Hi cookiee - Port Douglas is the pick of Far North Queensland in my view, with beach, tropical ambience and a very good main street with a lot of food options (from excellent budget pubs to up-scale). Three nights are a bit skinny, but still very doable.
16 April - rent a car (best by far) and drive to Port Douglas (see Palm Cove)
17 April - day-trip to the Great Barrier Reef (just snorkel - don't worry about SCUBA)
18 April - day-trip to the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest, and Cape Tribulation
19 April - back to Cairns and check out this major tropical city (return car to airport)
On the trip to the Daintree, visit both Mossman Gorge and the Rainforest Centre.
There are no islands (in the South Pacific / Caribbean sense) - just the mainland (intensely beautiful in parts) and the offshore Barrier Reef.
My only other proviso is that 16-19 April is not without its risks of rain (it is the tail-end of the wet season) - but even if it rains, it should be intermittent and often at night.
BTW - the Nautilus Restaurant in Port Douglas is very up-scale (Bill and Hilary Clinton were among its diners back in the day) - fascinating place - probably has a website. And for something completely different, stroll down to the Combined Club at the marina at sunset, for a beer and a $12.00 steak or fish n chips.
Enjoy your trip ...it's all pretty good. Be prepared for humid weather though.
Apr 4, 2013 1:14 PM
Apr 4, 2013 5:21 PM
I hired a car from this company as they were cheaper and had no problems. You can take out 'Collision Damage Waver' to reduce the cost you would need to pay should you have an accident - is this what you mean by mandatory insurance?
Apr 4, 2013 10:08 PM
Apr 5, 2013 10:15 AM
When buying a car, third party insurance forms part of the registration. It is not mandatory to take out car insurance, the choice is up to the owner of the vehicle. With car insurance, there are two types - third party property (TPP) and comprehensive. With TPP. if you have an accident and you are at fault, your insurance pays for the other vehicle but not yours, with comprehensive, your vehicle is covered even in an at fault accident.
Another problem with not having (comprehensive) insurance is if you have an accident and you are not at fault and the other driver doesn't have insurance either then you're up the creek.
Apr 6, 2013 5:00 AM
Apr 6, 2013 9:17 AM
Apr 9, 2013 11:13 AM
14I found a pretty good rental car deal via holidayautos.com that is part of Travelocity. They are offering an automatic compact for 3 days including all insurance and taxes for 140 AUD. They will have a 15% sale on Thursday, so will try to book with an additional discount. The hotel we found in downtown Port Douglas offers free parking.
Thanks for the help everyone.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.