30th November – 5th December 2015

My Experience

I spent 5 days in Cairns in total – however I should have stayed 10 and included a trip north for 2 nights to cape Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest. I will return to do this one day 🙂

I stayed in a dorm in Oasis bamboo hostel which was fantastic. The lady that worked there – Helen from Liverpool could not have been more lovely! She booked all my trips for me and advised on the different boats available for diving the Great Barrier. Hats off recommend this hostel to any traveller!

Day 1 & 2 – I spent catching up on sleep, rest and explored Cairns town and the Lagoon. It is a fab town with lots of bars, shops, restaurant, a big supermarket and everything else you’d need for a good stop-over/few days.

Day 2/3 – overnight liveaboard on the great barrier reef! I joined a company called ‘Reef Encounter’ which was fantastic. Unfortunately I had a bad wisdom tooth coming through which was causing me a lot of pain, so I was only able to do 3 out of the 5 dives, however each one was fabulous. Having only recently certified in Dubai, the instructors were exceptional and stuck close to me. The night dive was particularly cool, as reef sharks were attracted to the light from the  boat and were circling. It was a shock when I jumped straight into the water and saw them all around – I was expecting to have to go and look for them!

The 6am morning dive was equally amazing. As the sea life starts to awaken and the low sun makes visibility so clear, the sea was a treasure to explore for 45 minutes. We found a resident humpback wreath, which kept coming up to the divers and if you were lucky, able to touch him as he swam away like it was a game. Fred (yes they had names the fish) in-particularly liked the photographer who he kept playing around near. Incredible experience!

Day 4 –Atherton Tablelands Rainforest day trip

A great day tour! The driver picked me up from the hostel with the group and off we went. Our driver was fun and showed us lots of great areas. He also took us to a stream to try and spot wild platypus. Alas we did not see them but it was nice of him to take us to try and catch a glimpse!

We visited:

The curtain fig tree – an amazing feat of nature reaching 45 plus meters up into the tropical rainforest canopy. This is a board walk with plenty of time for photographs of the 600-800 year old epiphyte.

Millaa Millaa Falls – stopped here for lunch with the option of swimming for the brave. Here, the waters fall 20-meters over an ancient volcanic lava flow from over a million years ago. It was also used for the famous herbal essence TV adverts. A few of the girls did brave the cold water to re-enact the hair flicking sequence for a cheeky snap!

Malanda Falls – spend an hour in the area. There was also a little museum here which we had a wander round.

We ended the trip with an hour spent at lovely Lake Barrine. This lake is something special as it is actually a water filled crater left by a volcanic eruption approximately 10,000 years ago.
We arrived back to Cairns around 7pm that evening.

Day 5 – departed Cairns for a long day travelling on the greyhound bus to Airlie beach.

Advice / the perfect Itinerary

If you have more than 4 days to spend in the area, I would highly advise an extra night or two on a livaboard boat for scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. You will see much better sealife and coral that has not been destroyed as close to the mainland if you venture further to the outer reef. Sadly, a lot of the coral has been destroyed by divers closer to the shore which you visit on a daytrip.

I would also highly recommend going north to Daintree Rainforest for a few nights! Rent a car and get going!

A rough itinerary – recommended amount of time to stay: minimum 6 days/ maximum 14 days.

This very much depends on what you plan to do in this region. I would recommend at the very least:

Day 1 – Arrive
Day 2 – A day trip to the rainforest
Day – 3/4-An overnight stay on a liveaboard if you are a diver is a must. If you are not you can sign up to complete your open water Padi qualification on board. Otherwise you can do a day trip dive or snorkelling, although for snorkelling the Whitsunday Islands in my opinion, are abit better.
Day 5 – A day to explore Cairns and enjoy Cairns Lagoon
Day 6 –visit the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Cairns and hold a koala in Kuranda.
Day 7 – Depart

Have more time? Spend a few extra days up in Cape tribulation! (3-5 days)

Things to do

Check out the list of popular activities here on the greyhound website!

Things not to Miss

Dive the Great Barrier Reef
Visit the Daintree Rainforest

Next stop –The Whitsunday Islands!

-TheSloanRanger x

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