cairns or pt douglas for a family?

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Oct 27th, 2004, 08:57 PM
  #1
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cairns or pt douglas for a family?

Our trip to thailand has become 5 days in Cairns so I am now planning where to stay. We have three kids 16,12 AND 6, with one in a wheel chair. We love the beach and will be doing some of the tours (reef, skyrail). I have read that Cairns doesn't have a beach so is Pt Douglas the place to stay? A villa would probably suits us better but it needs to be within walking distance to the beach so that when its too hot I can walk the youngest back to the hotel pool but close enough to the shops, dining areas. Does any one have any suggestions? Lastly, there are about six different reef tours to different locations,which reef or cay is better? Any one have recommendations for which tour is better - price wise they seem to on par. Thanks for any help.
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Oct 27th, 2004, 11:20 PM
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I forgot to say we are travelling on the 18/11 so I don't have much time to book. PLease help!
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Oct 28th, 2004, 03:54 AM
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Cairns doesn't have a beach but they have just built a new swimming lagoon area that looks lovely. If you want a nice beach, Port Douglas is definitely the place. Cairns is much bigger, a proper town with lots of shops, movies, restaurants, etc. Port Douglas has a more villagey feel, still some shops and restaurants but not a lot. I think the accommodation near the new swimming lagoon in Cairns tends to be hotels and apartments so you might be better off in PD where there is lots of really nice accommodation close to the beach. It's been a while since we stayed there but you could look at Hibiscus, Driftwood on Mantaray (or something like that), also key in Port Douglas into the search area on this forum and you will get lots of other ideas. Make sure you book a ground floor room and tell the manager you have a wheelchair so they can tell you if it's going to be easy to get to the room, pool etc. Macrossan St is the main street of PD that runs from the beach to the marina at the other end (where the reef trips leave from) so anywhere in that vicinity will be an easy walk to the beach and shops etc.
We did a Quicksilver reef trip for the day and really enjoyed it. Not sure how easy it would be with a wheelchair, you could email them and ask just to be sure. There were lots of activities once out at the reef and quite a few people didn't even get in the water and still enjoyed it. My sister took a trip out to Green Island (trip leaves from Cairns) with her 2 young children and preferred it because the children were not in deep water and could sit on the beach or paddle. On the reef trips you are on a pontoon which is anchored over deep water. The coral and fish would be better on the reef. The other tours like skyrail should pick up from PD or Cairns or anywhere in between.
Good luck!
Kay
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Oct 28th, 2004, 05:39 PM
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thanks Kay. There have been a few metions about the Hibiscus so I willl definately look at that. Another old thread mentioned that the wavelength reef cruise was the best as they took less people, does anyone know if that is still the case?
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Oct 30th, 2004, 05:44 PM
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Hi Trish - do remember that both Cairns and Port douglas beaches will be very hot in November, so you won't be able to spend much time on either as you'll be burnt to a crisp if you do. Also, stinger season starts tomorrow - on coastal beaches you must use the rather small stinger-proof netted areas. Whilst Cairns city does not have a beach, there is a very large, safe stinger-proof lagoon with gently sloping, firm-based access which would be helpful for wheelchair.

Trinity Beach, north of Cairns also has many family serviced apartments, some facing beach.

Wavelength caters for snorkellers only (no intro or certified diving) and whilst its not the smallest reef operator it isn't the largest either. For your needs you might be as well to take the far larger Quicksilver. Both these leave from Port Douglas, but will pick up in Cairns city and beaches. Out of Cairns would recommend Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay - also excellent for kids as its sandy beach provides safe shallow water with much more marine life than Green Island. But you'd need to email any or all of them to enquire about wheelchair facilities.
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Oct 30th, 2004, 06:29 PM
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I just checked - yes, Quicksilver to Agincourt Reef has wheelchair facilities. If you're coming from Cairns or beaches you'll need to let them know if you need special transport to accommodate wheelchair.
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Aug 26th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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I'm not normally well placed to give an opinion here, but given the ages of your kids, I'd suggest Cairns may be a better bet.

We spent a few days in PD last December with our 14 & 12 year olds.It's a beautiful place but we found that despite the gorgeous beach, there was less appeal for our kids.I think in 4 days we visited it once, to marvel at the sunset over the mountains...much more for my benefit than theirs !

The trips we went on from PD almost all necessitated a long, hot drive to and from Cairns, really hot...but I suppose in Aussie terms not a really long drive

Ironically my parents chose to stay in Cairns,we travelled together then split for a couple of weeks,and in hindsight really should have each taken the other's option.
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Aug 26th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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Oops..only just seen the date on the original message so guess I'm still not top of the pops for travel advice !
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Aug 26th, 2005, 03:59 PM
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I agree with Pat, do the Quicksilver. This will guarantee everyone a great trip and all your kids will be able to see the reef. They have semi-submersibles and an underwater observatory. The pontoon can be accessed by wheel chair and provides plenty of shade.
I prefer Port over Cairns for a vacation, but that is my personal opinion. Yes, there is less night life or entertainment than in Cairns, but do you really need that? If you go to the reef one day, the Skyrail and maybe the Daintree, there is not much time left for other things anyway.
Port has the really nice animal park called Rainforest Habitat.
You could always rent a car and drive down to Cairns. It is a really nice drive along the scenic coast.
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