Reefs & Rain Forests: Specific Questions

Old Jul 8th, 2003, 10:19 AM
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Reefs & Rain Forests: Specific Questions

Hi,

I've asked some general questions about Cairns and the surrounding areas before, and have received some very useful info. Now I've dug up more info, and have more specific questions. Appreciate it if you could share w/ me your recommendations.

Reminder: I'm budget conscious, but will be willing to spend more if the money will buy me a much much better experience!

1. Kuranda--Is it better to take the skyrail or train on the way up or down? Or it doesn't matter? Possible to go to the station from Cairns by myself w/o a car? Or should I get a package including transports from and to Cairns?

2. Snorkeling Trip. Please recommend a good boat for a day snorkeling on the reefs. What's the difference between the more expensive boats from the cheaper ones. Any experience w/ the Osprey V?

3. Fitzroy or Green Island? Worth doing a kayaking trip there? A day trip is enough or should I stay overnight? Do I need to get a tour package for this? Or it's possible to ferry to the island and rent a kayak there?

4. Cape Tribulation/Daintree? Worth the trip from Cairns? Need overnight? Please recommend a tour. I won't be driving.

Lots of questions here, but really appreciate it if you could help out w/ any of the questions. Will post my trip report once back!

Thanks!

Jen

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Old Jul 8th, 2003, 10:25 AM
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More questions:

5. Should I book all my tours to Cairns from the U.S.? Or should I wait til I get to Cairns?

6. Any recommendations for budget lodgings in Cairns--close to the happening areas and less than $50 USD.

Thank you!
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Old Jul 8th, 2003, 10:45 AM
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Hi JC98,
We went to Kuranda on an organised tour when we stayed in Beautiful Palm Cove.We also went to Green Island.
Lets begin with Kuranda, Personally I preferred the skyrail to the train I found the train hot and sticky with too many people and a very limited view, although we stopped half way up at a station and it was ok then. However my family (wife children aged 11&14) all enjoyed the train up and the spectacular sky rail down again.
We were on an organised tour and it was really expensive and quite restrictive although we saw plenty of things, we were ushered along at the pace of the tour guide and there were things we would have spent longer on and things we weren't bothered about but we were stuck to their itinary.
I apreciate that some people like that but we didn't.
The local bus from Cairns or the northern Beaches stops right outside Kuranda, so if we were to re visit we would certainly avoid a tour and take the bus ourselves, it was also quite a bit more expensive on the tour.
Green Island was really the most disapointing part of our whole australian holiday, we had a brilliant time everywhere and expected so much from Green. But the Island has a tacky commercial resort in the middle and there are really hundreds of people on there ! Its owned by a Japanese company. Imagine paying money to stay on an exclusive island and finding hundreds of day trippers descend upon the island.
We thought it would be reasonably tranquil with good snorkeling but the inner reef was only white and not very interesting.Of course we could have paid more money to go to the outer reef but it was a significant enough amount for us not to bother.There are plenty of posts on Fodors about Green.
I have never been to Fitzroy as Green was our island trip, I am sure it can't be worse than Green.
It appears to me that this place is kept for the tourists to trash the coral, whilst protecting other delicate reefs. That is fine by me but I wish I had known before hand.

Sorry to be so negative, but this was our experience.

Have great fun; the rest of Australia is fabulous and we are going back there from UK in December.

Muck
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Old Jul 8th, 2003, 11:11 AM
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Jen -
I can't advise re budget places to say, but I would't stay in Cairns, rather Palm Cove or Port Douglas. Reason for this suggestion is that there is no beach in Cairns and most of the sites you seem to want to visit are easier to depart from Port Douglas. From the Cairns airport there is a shuttle bus to take you north to either PC or PD.

We stayed in Palm Cove and for the GBR day-trip one of the boats' crew picked us up and returned us to our hotel; for Cape Tribulation/Daintree we were shuttled by the Quicksilver Waverunner boat to Port Douglas, where we met our tour.

We went out on the Poseidon (small boat w/ about 20 people). Don't recall the price, but on average we found the full day trip w/lunch and transfers ranged between US$85-120, depending on the boat.

For the Kuranda trip, we were scheduled to take the train up and back, but the Sky Rail had just recently opened ('95) so we took the Sky Rail back. Yes, the train was hot and sticky, but I would have been disappointed to have only done the Sky Rail in both directions. For this day, whatever the cost, the transfer from our hotel and back was included.

Did't go out to Green or Fitzroy, so can't comment.

As to whether to book from the States or once you arrive - depending on time of year you'll be traveling, you might be closed out of some things, but then again if you're staying for awhile you might be able to fit it into another day.

However, I would suggest, that as soon as you decide on your hotel - and again, I recommend Palm Cove or Pt. Douglas - I'd email the hotel and ask them what tours they can booked and the prices. If the prices fit into your budget, have the hotel handle for you. Then when you arrive, you'll at least know what you'll be doing and when!
 
Old Jul 9th, 2003, 12:38 AM
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Re Kuranda - most of the coach tours seem to be arranged so that passengers go to Kuranda by train and then either return by coach or by skyrail. Therefore the train seems to be much less crowded on the return trip, so it may make sense to take skyrail to Kuranda and train back.
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Old Jul 9th, 2003, 01:10 AM
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try these sorts of questions at
the australia section
thorn tree message board
www.lonelyplanet.com
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Old Jul 9th, 2003, 06:03 PM
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I was in Cairns in Sept 2001. Went to Cape Tribulation with Suncoast Safaris (website: www.suncoast-safaris.com.au)Really enjoyed it. Would recommend this company.
For the Great Barrier Reef, went on Sunlover Cruises which leaves from Cairns. They'll pick you up at your hotel and take you to the pier in Cairns. I chose this one because the boat left from Cairns. The one I went on stopped for an hour at Fitzroy Island before going on to the reef. Don't know anything about kayaking there.
Depending on when you're going, I'd wait to make my tour arrangements when I got there. The weather may make a difference - especially for going on a boat out to the reef. We didn't have any trouble getting the tours we wanted.
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