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Where to stay outside of Cairns

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We will be arriving in Cairns in early May for 7 nights, 6 full days for activities. I am working on lodging and would appreciate your feedback on the following:

- Port Douglas or Palm Cove for the majority (if not all) of the stay? (Or some other location I don't know about!). We plan to do the "usual" things in the area, Daintree, snorkeling, diving etc.. We are not big shoppers.
- Since we have a fair amount of time in this area, is there somewhere else we should consider staying for 1 or 2(max) nights? Tablelands?
- Any recommendations on good hotels? We want an apartment so we can cook, somewhere nice, but not crazy expensive.

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