GBR Islands

Oct 1st, 2003, 07:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 156
GBR Islands

Hi, we will be in OZ for 5 weeks in Feb.and are planning to spend a week in the Port Douglas area. We would like to spend a few days on one of the islands, but which one?? We are active senior citizens who love to snorkel. Many of them are so expensive. Any ideas or suggestions would be much appreciated. Perhaps it is better to take day trips to the islands. I assume this would be less expensive. HELP!!!
Eagle is offline  
Oct 1st, 2003, 11:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I am leaving next week for the GBR, and have had the same questions as you. When I return in November, perhaps I can give you some feedback. In the meantime, use the search button, and you will find lots on the subject.

There seem to be many day trips to nearby islands from the Cairns-PD area. Also, I understand it is possible to get rates well below those advertised if you shop around.
Heimdall is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 09:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,638
Daydream Island off the coast of Airlie Beach near Proserpine is fabulous. We had a standby rate for 3 days there last month for about $900 AUD. This included transfers, breakfast at the bakery (not buffet), lunch at Mermaids and takeout dinners from their top restaurant. You can either get a bus to Airlie Beach and book via one of the local agents in town or check out travel agents in Pt Douglas. Daydream is perfect for oldies, youngies, whatever. Good luck. Tip-take some spirits or wine with you-it's expensive on the island.
Lyndie is offline  
Nov 11th, 2003, 05:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Just returned from my trip, and spent some time in both the PD-Cairns and Airlie Beach areas. For snorkling there are lots of good trips to the outer reef, including Quicksilver, from Port Douglas. Day trips from Cairns to Green and Fitzroy Islands are quick and inexpensive, but snorkling isn't as good as the outer reef.

Airlie Beach is actually quite a distance from Port Douglas, but there are lots of good deals (standby rates) available there to the Whitsunday Islands. I had two good days snorkling off Hook Island with a company called Mantaray.

Wherever you go in that region, including the outer reef, you will be advised to wear a lycra suit while swimming and snorkling, due to the stingers and Irukandji jellyfish present in the waters that time of year. Don't ignore the advice.
Heimdall is online now  
Nov 11th, 2003, 07:32 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hello, Eagle - my husband and I have spent time on quite a few of the islands from Heron north. We are also active seniors who love to snorkel. Twice we took a small catamaran trip from Cairns to Thursday Island with stops along the way for snorkeling. I would choose Lizard over all others although it is expensive.
Louise is offline  
Nov 11th, 2003, 11:47 AM
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I got back yesterday from Port Douglas where I spent one week.
Most of the time the seas were quite rough and so we put off taking a trip to the outer reef because of that. However I had dinner at the Yacht Club in P.D on one of the first nights there and spent the next two days in massive discomfort (food poisoning) so give that place a wide berth.
It was still choppy at the end of our stay and so we just went to the Low Isles for a bit of snorkling. I did my usual party trick of being violently sick on the way out because I had forgotten to take my pills! but was Ok when I got there. The snorkling was not all that good due in part to the fact that its soft coral and not hard and that is never as nice and also because of the visability which was not great because of the choppy seas whipping up sand about.
I thought that if one loved snorkling then you are much better doing either one of the boat trips from Cairns to Townsville on the Coral Princess ( I think that that is the name) because it calls into a lot of the outer reef coral cays and dive/snorkling sites on the 3 night/4 days trip and you get to see the best the reef has to offer as well as seeing much, much more. The cost of the trip is about $1,500Au p/p I think and although that is a bit expensive it does stack up well against staying at a nice hotel, having meals out and taking a dive boat out to the reef more than once - because the latter is about $170 p/p and you get a bit of a salad lunch, tea and coffee.
Unfortunately Cairns / Port Douglas and surrounds is in the grip of a drought, which much be something of a first for those tropic areas. That does take the edge off the beauty of the rain forest and the tablelands and is very sad to see so I hope, as they all do, that this year will be a much better wet season than the last 2.
If you don't wish to take that boat then your options are a bit limited in that there are not many islands off Port Douglas that you can stay on which gives you access to snorkling on the reef ( outer that is ).
Another option is to stay at one of the much cheaper islands in the Whitsundays which should have some excellant specials in February and take some of their trips to the outer reef. You have a wide choice in the Whitsundays from Hayman, Linderman, Long Island, Brampton, Hamilton, Daydream Island for starters and the other thing that is nice there is that you can island hop from one to another for day trips. There are some nice places to snorkle around the islands if you want to see something other than coral for a day i.e. the cod hole and you can also choose to take a picnic to an uninhabited island and spend a day exploring.
The last time I was there they did have sea-planes going to the outer reefs which would be fun.
Take heed of the advice given about the lycra suits when swimming in the stinger season. I used one and it did not detract from the "feel" of the water around me nor my moverability either, however I am just hoping that no-one I know took a photo of me because I looked like a fat blue penguin
at best or the creature from the Blue Lagoon at worst! At least I was not stung nor did I see any stingers either which was great!
Nov 11th, 2003, 04:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Hi Eagle - Fitzroy Island off Cairns might be a good compromise - it's a continental island rather than a coral cay, but it has some very pretty fringing coral. Accommodation is not flash but prices are very reasonable. sunlover cruises
will take you from Fitzroy out to Moore Reef for superb snorkelling. There's also good sea kayaking from Fitzroy.

this is for Janese: Janese, are you sure it was the PD food that made you ill, rather than the water. I had a violently ill guest last week - had to take her to 24hour medical centre in Cairns, the first thing the doctor asked her was had she been to Port douglas and had she drunk the tap water. She had in both cases. Sorry you copped that unseasonably windy weather - at least it's brought a little rain but not nearly enough.
pat_woolford is offline  
Nov 11th, 2003, 09:55 PM
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Hi Pat
Unfortunately it was not the water as we had been told not to drink the water there anyway and therefore had stocked up with safe stuff. The only food and drink I had had was bottled water in the form of coffee, apple cider, ice-cream and then that dinner.
I live in an area without town water and know the problems well. Also the symptoms are a tad different with f.p.
Sorry it cannot be all bouquets.
Nov 12th, 2003, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Hi Janese - I'm just glad you were told not to drink the water - so many folks don't know. Sorry about the fp though - my guest's seemed more like giardia.
pat_woolford is offline  
Nov 12th, 2003, 11:36 PM
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I am really sorry about the fp too because I had intended to go to Salsa for dinner, to name only one restaurant at PD. However PD was lovely and the trip was worth it to have a break from the norm and rest up. Weather was very mild and nice and a day trip in a car to the Daintree was lovely although the rain forest in lacking rain! Services and facilities are lovely in PD. as they have been for many years now. However I was particularly impressed with Palm Cove as it has been years since I was there and it looked as though it has come of age, its a delightful spot for some R&R and within good distance of all facilities too.
People often ask about Opals and where to buy them - there are a number of places in and near Cairns but a little place called Yungaburra on the Atherton Tablelands has a wonderful shop with real quality opal and a very helpful assistant. The prices were good and the quality excellant so it may be a good place to get your pressies from.
Another place I enjoyed was "the Coffee Place" at Mareeba which sells its own home grown coffee and which has turned my husband from Costa Rican to our home brand for flavour. He was so rapt that he has his order form ready to send for more supplies and orders for everyone for Christmas.
Enjoy the north, its a great place and will be even better if it rains.
Nov 13th, 2003, 04:48 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 56
Thanks for the info, Janese. I was wondering where to purchase opals. Thanks for the help. Our travel agent has us in Palm Cove so I am happy to hear that it is nice. Hope you don't mind my hopping into your thread Eagle!
smchrissy is offline  
Nov 13th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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smchrissy: There are plenty of places to buy Opal from closer to you at Palm Cove but they seemed to be too touristy for me. I used to make opal jewellery and I was impressed with the quality of the stuff at Yungaburra and as a bonus Yungaburra ( gee I hope I have the spelling right) is a quaint little village and is also very close to the crater lakes which make for a nice trip too. The guy that makes the Opal stuff is a manufacturing jeweller himself and that makes for much more interesting items and usually much better quality because you get crafted jewellery instead of the usual "stamped" jewellery ( stuff that is make in a mould and the stone is made to fit that moulded shape) or in other words the use ready made "findings" for the stones that they have. So if you want a one-of-a-kind thing then Yungaburra is the place. If you are after little stuff then the close Opal shops will be fine. Plenty of brochures on those everywhere.

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