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cguest88 Jul 9th, 2003 10:39 AM

Honeymoon April/May 2004
 
Hi all,

I am just starting to plan my honeymoon. I am about 98% sure I am going to go Australia. I have a couple concerns and questions.

My basic iternary is
Sydney 3-4 days
Cairns/PD/Jungle experience 3-4 days
A Reef Island 3-4 days for relaxing, diving, etc.

Concerns
1) Weather in late april/early may. I know Sydney will be temperate. Not worried. But I am worried about typhoon season in the Queensland area. A friend went during March and said it rained alot during his trip up North.

2) Travel agent is pushing Hamilton island for my Reef experience as a cheaper, easier than Bedarra or lizard. Does that have good diving and/or snorkeling areas. I haven't heard of it.

3) If given the option Lizard or Bedarra? I think I want this to be our first stop so more quaint with less traffic the better.

4) Instead of Port Douglas would a trip to Alice Springs or Ulurru be advisable. I would like to go to the Daintree but would like to see the outback.

5) 4 days in Sydney to much, not enough, or just right.

6) How bout staying in Port Douglas, instead of reef island and visiting lizard island as a day trip. Is that hard? Far?

Thanks in advance

DawnF Jul 13th, 2003 08:10 PM

I just wrote a huge response and lost it!!! aggh! I had the same itinerary for my HM last month. I have to go to bed now but will try and write an equal or better response tomorrow!!!

maryk Jul 13th, 2003 11:49 PM

Go for either Lizard or Bedarra over Hamilton which is a huge resort with apartments, hotels, etc etc. The snorkelling and diving experience at the smaller resorts is both better and more easily accessible. April - May should be good weather - certainly past the main 'wet' season. Sydney will be quite coolish. As far as getting to Alice Springs/ uluru - it's all going to depend on how much time you have - you'll need to allow a day travelling in each direction. The flights to Alice Springs go from either Brisbane or Sydney. From Sydney theres a daily flight (9.55am) and from Brisbane flights on Mon, Thurs, Sat and Sun (8.30am). Flight times are around 3 hours. Check the Qantas web site for more details.

cguest88 Jul 14th, 2003 08:13 AM

Thanks for the responses.

Mark, thanks for the airline advice. I will look into. I heard Sydney will be in 50's (10's C) But should be warm enough to get around.

DawnF Jul 14th, 2003 10:08 AM

Okay lets try this again : )

My itinerary was VERY similar!!!!

We started in Sydney for 6 nights at the Four Seasons. We continued up to Port Douglas to the PortSea for 3 nights. We did Lizard Island for 5 nights and then stayed in Cairns for 1 night to make our return trip easier for us.

We travelled June 1 - 20th. The weather in each location was as follows: Sydney - 65 - 70 degrees F which seemed high compared to what we were expecting. We wore tshirts and jeans and occasionally at night had on a long sleeve t-shirt. They DO NOT dress up as much in Sydney as I am used to ( from Philadlephia ) we were overdressed at the Opera ( of all places ) in a suit and me in a nice black dress. oh well! we had fun anyway and felt special!

As for Sydney my best advice is bring a couple of different things and its much better to underpack and just wash something along the way!

As for the rain up north. It was cloudy and had rained for three days before we got to Port. We did NOT do the beach up there. We did a rainforest tour - in the rain - which made it interesting! I would say that 4 days is perfect - no more!

2. I would NOT go for Hamilton. Just tell your travel agent you want Lizard or Bederra. Now, there is a major cost factor to contend with that may be why she is influencing you for Hamilton?? not sure. Lizard was where we went due to two factors. . . 1. the diving and 2. the weather -- its warmer the further north you go in the winter and Lizard is way up there and YOU WILL NOT BE DISSAPPOINTED if you go -- its AMAZING and I am a choosy traveller. Get the Anchor Bay Suites if you do it! Ask for Room #39 or 40 which are more secluded!!!

Note: The big plus for Bederra is having the drinks included but if the weather and diving are more important then I would DEFINITELY choose Lizard.

If you do go -- we'll have to talk more -- I have tons more to say about LIzard!!! : )

3. I would seriously consider doing Lizard LAST. Where are you flying from -- you will have difficulties with scheduling ( only one flight per day ) and you will just be sheer exhausted when you arrive ( after flying from home, to Cairns, then to Lizard ) and you will want to enjoy it there not be passed out with jet lag. The other reason I would do it last is because there was something amazing about going there last -- it was a big buildup -- NO other places will measure up and it might taint the rest of your trip. We stayed at the 4 Seasons and even that after Lizard would not of been as great comparitively. Also, it allows you to come home RELAXED. I dont know the reasons you are considering first and can only assume its cuase its your hm and you want to be honeymooners right from the get-go but my advice is to end with it and we can talk more if you want to. . .

4. I would not recommend going to Uluru/ Alice Springs unless you are going for more than 3 weeks to Australia. Personal opinion again, but the time you spend flying there and in airports really cuts into the time you are experiencing Australia and I personally like experiencing more of one thing than just a taste of many things.

5. I would say that 4 days is barely enough time to do Sydney. Its doable but you'll compromise some great things the city ahs to offer.

Our basic schedule was like this:
- arrived, Taronga Zoo, dinner in Rocks, Pub Tour of the Rocks
- Bridge Climb, Opera House ( tour, dinner and performance )
- Bondi/ Watson's Bay / Nice dinner out
- Hunter Valley Wine Tour ( allday)
- Walk from Spit to Manly, lunch in Manly, over to Darling Harbor to see Aquarium, Dinner on waterfront at Nicks ( also saw fireworks that night there )
- Blue Mountains Day Trip ( dont' go on a tour - do it yourself!!! I didn't listen and kicked myself -- it was the worst day of our trip unfortunately )

I woudln't have NOT wanted to do any of these things but if the winery tour and/or Blue Mts aren't as important then 4 would be okay. I would do 5 days minimum myself!

6. I would NOT stay at Port for more time in lieu of the trip to Lizard unless of course you are dealing with finaces and the expense of going to Lizard. A day trip could NOT compare to the REAL experience ( dining, secluded rooms, private beaches, etc ) you are talking two entirely different experiences. It was the highlight of our honeymoon and will be a top experience of our entire lives I am SURE!

I am more than willing to talk endlessly more about this. . . especially since I just got back. I am planning on doing the whole Trip Report with TONS of details just trying to find the time to do it right. . . this weekend at the latest I hope!

Hope this helps! if you want to post more questions we can go back and forth on this post!
Dawn


sandi Jul 14th, 2003 01:18 PM

My belief is "to save the best for last". After you've been flying for over 24-hrs, you don't want to still have to connect to Cairns and then to Lizard - you'll be wiped out for two days and that's the end of your Lizard or Bederra Is. experiences.

Do know that Lizard is very expensive.

We spent 3-full-days in Sydney and even managed to rent a car one of those days and drive out to the Blue Mountains.

From SYD we flew to Cairns and stayed in Palm Cove for 5-days - did Kuranda rail and skyrail part of one day; another day on the GBR on small boat "The Poseidon", a day at Daintree/Cape Tribulation; two leisurely days.

From Cairns we flew to Alice (via Mt. Isa) - leaving about 4pm, arriving about 6:30pm. Next day had full-day tour via air to Uluru - land tours, lunch then flight back to Alice.

From Alice flew to MEL for 3-full days and drove to Great Ocean Road one day; another day out to winelands; third day to discover MEL.

You have options on the Reef, depending on budget, but again, I wouldn't do it first

eve123 Jul 14th, 2003 01:29 PM

To Dawn:

Dawn--I would LOVE to hear more about your trip. We are leaving in October and spending three weeks in a lot of the same places you are (Sydney, 5 days at Lizard, Melbourne, etc.). I am from the DC area and have questions re dress for Sydney and Lizard, in particular, because the clothes for the variety of places are of concern, as we're going to the outback too. Could you give some more detail about dress for Lizard and Sydney? Did you store a suitcase before you went to Lizard? Thanks.

edg1 Jul 14th, 2003 07:52 PM

Dawn,

You mentioned a tour of the Hunter Valley. Can you fill me in on more of the details, such as the itinerary and overall experience? What tour (company)did you use and would you recommend them? Also, what was the apprximate cost?

Thanks

DawnF Jul 14th, 2003 08:55 PM

edg1 -- Hunter Valley Tour was with Red Carpet Tours. I would HIGHLY recommend them however, our driver is the reason - he was great. The tour was good as well but I imagine it could have been "worse" if the driver were dull, boring etc like our driver for Blue Mts was!

The approx. cost I can't say -- sorry! Its on their website though so www.redcarpettours.com.au. They give a description on there as well as give you the names of the wineries we stopped at! Hope this helps!

As for eve123. Dress in Sydney -- not soo dressed up. My hubby had his suit and we had him wear it twice: once for dinner at Level 41 and once for the Opera Performance and dinner at Aria ( across from Opera ) As stated, I think that the suit was unnecessary for the Opera but we were glad we had it for Level 41. I would say a tie/shirt/pants is the most you need for the dressier places, nicer more expensive restaurants. A jacket nice but like I said not req'd.

As for every day wear in Sydney. . . jeans/pants with long sleeve T-shirts did us just fine. I even wore really casual running pants one day when we went to the Blue Mts.

Now for Lizard. Resort wear. My hubby would wear nice shorts with a collared polo shirt to dinner each night and that was perfect. Myself, I switched back and forth between capri's with cute tops and sundress or something equivilent. We wore bathing suits all the rest of the time so its not as difficult to "pack light" as they require. Bring a cover up and flip flops along with sandles for dinner. I think I got away with 1 flip flop, black and brown sandles and 1 sneaker. 4 shoes in one week was good for me! haha.

As for storing the suitcase. We arranged our itinerary as I said to have one night in Cairns on the way back so we had the tranfer woman drop us at the Cairns Hotel ( Raddison ) before we boarded for Lizard. We each took ONE 22 inch carry one with one additional sm. tote - and thats it. They are strict, but not obnoxious with the rule. Alot depends on the number of people on the plane. But that is something you won't know ahead of time.

I know folks on this board told me that you can store luggage at Cairns airport so you have that as an option although its more expensive ( $6 / day per bag?? or somehting?!?! )

Hope this helps. . .let me know if you have more questions!
Dawn


eve123 Jul 15th, 2003 05:32 AM

To Dawn:

Thanks so much--you were a world of help. Do you recommend both Level 41 and Aria? Also, did you eat before or after your performance? (We have tickets for an 8:00 p.m. opera already.)

I also understand that you did NOT enjoy the Blue Mountain tour. We only have four days in Sydney and are considering dropping that from our itinerary, as we've seen many mountains in the U.S.

DawnF Jul 15th, 2003 06:17 AM

eve123 --

Glad to be of help! Its inspired me to get the whole trip report done sooner rather than later!

We ate BEFORE our performance. We ate at Aria -- I liked it -- we choose between Aria and Bennelong since it was a package deal through the opera house ( tour,dinner,performance ). The only thing I recommend is go light on the wine before a performance -- we saw an incredible play ( opera wasn't in town yet ) and it was slow and the two glasses of wine made us sleepy and restless through some of the performance.

With only FOUR days in Sydney here are my "must-see's"
Day 1
-- Ferry to Taronga Zoo ( 3 1/2 hours needed )
-- Relax, Walk around the Rocks
-- Opera House Tour/Performance/Dinner
Day 2
-- Explorer Bus to Bondi and Watson's Bay for lunch (Doyles on water - call for front table! )
-- Bridge Climb in late afternoon
-- Drinks at Summit followed by Dinner at Level 41
Day 3
-- Hunter Valley Wine Tour
Day 4
-- Walk from Spit to Manly - we are active and LOVED this day.
-- Ferry back to Circ. Quay
-- Aquarium at Darling Harbor ( two hours is plenty )
-- Dinner at Darling Harbor ( Nicks was good )

These days could be in any order but I agree, I would skip the Blue Mountains if you only have 4 days. And if you aren't a "wine-lover" then skip the Hunter since it takes all day and you will easily be able to fill the day with things around Sydney esp. if its nice you can incorporate time on Manly or Bondi Beach.

Hope this helps. . .
Dawn

DawnF Jul 15th, 2003 06:19 AM

Once more thing about the restaurant choice. Aria has views of the Opera House -- you are right outside looking at it. . . Bennelong is inside the O.H.

I heard from this board many liked Aria over Bennelong. I can't compare but LOVED level 41 so if you are only to choose 1 then def. Level 41. Otherwise Aria was a good choice and we LOVED the view!

Dawn

cguest88 Jul 15th, 2003 06:32 AM

Dawn and Sandi,

Thanks for the advice. After I posted my message I had already thought of rearranging the touring schedule. You guys are absolutely right - staying in Sydney for at 4 days at the outset to get acclaimated to Australian time would be good idea. I am thinking 4 days Sydney, 4 days PD, 4 days lizard, 1 day Sydney to hit anyhting we missed.

Did you arrange for all of excusions in the states or when you got to Oz. I noticed some people have arranged for Opera, etcs. Is it cheaper, easier, or do you need to do it prior to flying otherwise it is a no go. I am an attorney and the work style is anything that can be put off til tomorrow is put off - i.e. I love to procrastinate.

You iternary of Sydney sounds awesome - except for the Bridge climb - terrified of heights. I take the cheaper stair trip version.

From all that I have heard it looks like Lizard is the place to go. If I need to bump up my budget so be it. This will be the only time my fiance (also an attorney) don't get any flack from our partners about taking 2 straight weeks off. In fact, this will be our first long trip (more than weekend) together since our bar trip to the Greek Isles over 3 years ago.

Dawn we will definitely have to talk again about lizard. also how was the Port Sea?

eve123 Jul 15th, 2003 11:49 AM

Dawn: Thanks for replying so quickly. Because we are spending a little time in Adelaide in the Barossa Valley (1 day), we had decided to skip the Hunter Valley, although we ARE wine lovers!

Thanks for the input re Aria. We, too, are trying to decide between Aria or Bennelong (which gets wonderful reviews, as well). Also, what time did you make your reservation for dinner? Where did you see "the package"? (We purchased our opera tickets separately on the web; maybe we made a mistake!)

DawnF Jul 15th, 2003 12:40 PM

If you want to do the 1 day at the end in Cairns you would be afforded the luxury of not having to worry about your bags during the Lizard trip. You can drop them off before you leave and they'll be there when you get back. That was a big bonus for us!

Other comments: There is only one flight to and from Lizard so you will take the approx. 2:30 flight out of Lizard and arrive in Cairns one hour later. Then you will have to take a flight down to Sydney and your day is "shot". You'll wake up and fly home and depending on when that flight is will help you decide if you actually get enough time to "do" something in Sydney the next day or not. I would recommend staying in Cairns so you can at least get a nice dinner relaxing and maybe do last minute shopping or hit the casino there ( if thats something that appeals to you ) and wake up early and fly down to Sydney, then fly home from there.

It can go either way but you won't necessarily get to "do" anything on the day after Lizard flying since you will arrive wherever later - post 5 o'clock -- if this doesn't make sense let me know.

I arranged all my travel up front with the exception of the two all day tours in Sydney ( RedCarpet for the Hunter, and Dal Myles for the Blue Mts. ) and the one tour David Armburst from Port Douglas which I did on his website and I HIGHLY recommend ( as does more than half of this site ) taking his trip.

Anyway, next question, I would not hold off on the Opera performance as they book up I understand. You can book up to 3 mos prior and I recommend it.

I used Swain Australia for my booking ( nat'l co based near me and they were excellent! ).

I DEFINITELY say GO FOR IT for the sheer fact that its your honeymoon AND you don't get time off often. Lizard was incredible and I will do an entire post about my experience since I plan to do my trip report in three parts ( Sydney, Port, then Lizard )

As far as Portsea. . . I don't know if I recommend it as much, as some other places might have been better. ( Mirage? ) It depends on your needs/desires of accomodation. There is a debate between walking distance to center of Port and more luxurious accomodations. Depending on what you think is more important depends on where you should stay. Compared to the 4 Seasons and Lizard it was sub-par but we knew that going in. It served our purposes well and was a 3.5/4 star not a 5 star relativly speaking. It had its own kitchenette which was nice but most of our stay in Port was eating out at the wonderful restaurants on Macrossen St.

Okay -- I think I hit all the points. . . till later!
Dawn

DawnF Jul 15th, 2003 12:45 PM

oh man -- just when I post another msg came up!

eve123 both Aria and Bennelong are great. We had a whole combo package for the night. Tour beginning at 5pm -- Dinner at 6 15 ish and then performance at 8 I believe.

Check out sydneyoperahouse.com and look under Tourism - Packages or something -- it was called Starry Nights . .

I had my travel agent book it so she took care of it and I decided on the restaurant and performance and then she priced it.

Maybe you want to just do dinner reservations, tell them that you are doing a pre-theater dinner then also book a tour of the OH ( Backstage or Front of the House - also on the website )

Okay -- think that does it!
Dawn

sandi Jul 15th, 2003 01:43 PM

We also used Swain Australia for our trip to OZ. They're located in suburb of Philadelphia; are now part of FAR & WIDE - but have a website.

Found them to be very professional, prices were good and they handled anything we wanted. There were a few "free" days for leisure during our stay and if we decided to do anything we booked it directly on site.

While we didn't visit Lizard, friends did, specifically, so husbands could go fishing, but they all enjoyed the island when the guys weren't out on the boat.

mary123 Jul 16th, 2003 05:39 AM

We just returned from our honeymoon and had an itinerary almost exactly like yours originally. We realized we couldn't do it all and wanted to relax on the honeymoon and not pack and then unpack, etc. We spent 6 days in Sydney and still didn't get to see it all. We stayed in the Rocks area. Very nice. The weather was bad. It rained everyday, but they all said that was unusual for that time of year. Then we went to Lizard Island for 7 days. We both loved it there. Tropical weather, great food, and lots of great beaches and diving. One thing to remember is that your on your honeymoon, don't try to see and do it all b/c it'll be over before you know it. You mention doing a day trip to Lizard. We saw the boats of people come in, but one thing you need to know is that you can come to Lizard Island and see the beaches b/c it's a marine parkland area, but that's it. The resort is off limits to anyone not staying at the resort itself and the resort and the diving is what makes the island. Even if you want to buy a drink etc, they won't help you at all. We used a travel agent as well, and highly recommend her. Let me know if you have any other questions.

eve123 Jul 16th, 2003 05:54 AM

Thanks Dawn and Mary!

We have also booked our trip with a travel agent through Swain, so it's good to hear the kudos.

Thanks for your suggestion about Cairns, Dawn, but our itinerary is a little different than most. We are choosing to fly into Melbourne from D.C. and work our way up..i.e., our last three stops will be Silky Oaks, Lizard, and Sydney (how was the 4 Seasons???), so even though we'll get to Sydney late, we'll have four days there before we head for home. Maybe not the best plan, but what's done is done!

Thanks for the "starry nights" info; I will check it out. Awaiting the full reports with much anticipation!

mary123 Jul 16th, 2003 08:09 AM

Glad to help! We flew from DC (Dulles) too but went to Sydney first. The plane ride was actually not nearly as bad as I thought. We also stayed at the Four Seasons on the "Rocks". Our suite was so wonderful and had great views of the harbor and we were near everything. The bed at the four seasons was so much more comfortable than the bed on Lizard, but at Lizard they give you a pillow menu to choose your pillow type (Down, blended, hypoallergenic, etc).

Lot's of famous people have stayed at Lizard too. We requested bungalow 40 on Lizard for privacy. It was a bit of a hike each day, but we were very secluded too. Always remember to look right first and not left when crossing the street. My hubby almost got hit by bus a few times. The "Rocks" remind me of Georgetown, a very old and quaint water area. They have great shops, but some are very overpriced. The concierge told us about a marketplace called Haymarket to buy souveniers. Have a great trip!


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