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Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns or Port Douglas or island resort?

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns or Port Douglas or island resort?

Old Jan 31st, 2010, 10:46 AM
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Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns or Port Douglas or island resort?

Hello,
My husband and I want to spend 3 night somewhere and enjoy snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. We are very interested in an island resort, but ~$1700US/nt seems just too much for us when I found out that it is an additional ~$1000 for flight transfers to these islands. If the transfers didn't add up so much then I'd be more likely to consider it. Are there any islands that don't cost as much for the transfers? Would you suggest a beach resort instead in Cairns or Port Douglas as the best jumping off point for a day trip instead? We want a relaxing stay, all-inclusive, and prefer not family oriented (we don't want a lot of children at a resort) or packed with tourists. As far as all-inclusive, if we can stay somewhere not requiring a rental car we're flexible but all-inclusive seems like an easier option. We will be flying from Sydney. Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Jan 31st, 2010, 01:26 PM
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Have you looked at Lady Elliot Island at the southern tip of the reef? That's supposed to be one of the cheapest of the reef islands.

Heron Island, which is also in the area (near to Gladstone), was running specials to muster up business after a change of ownership. From both of these islands you can snorkel from the shore.
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Old Jan 31st, 2010, 08:23 PM
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We went to the Cairns area for our honeymoon way back in 1996, when internet research was pretty much non existent. However, I still did my research and was relieved that I did. We would have been sorely disappointed had we ended up in Cairns. I actually would never recommend it to anyone. We ended up staying up the road about 20 minutes at a place called Palm Cove and were glad we did. It is a good day trip jumping off point. From there we went to Port Douglas, the reef, the Daintree rainforest, Lake Tinaroo, etc. It has been built up a little more since then, but the pictures make it look the same. http://www.palmcove.net/ We ended up going back two years later.

If I had my choice, I would love to stay out on one of the islands.
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Old Jan 31st, 2010, 09:42 PM
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Well, there was no Esplanade development in Cairns city back in 1996, which was years before huge improvements were made to waterfront and the inclusion of a free-to-public full stinger-proof swimming lagoon and separate kids playground, Muddies. www.cairnsesplanade.com To this day Port Douglas doesn't not have a stinger-proof swimming facility such as this.

bmcc,not an island, but a quiet resort with total beachfront and expansive established, rainforested gardens is Kewarra Beach Resort - www.kewarra.com Kewarra Beach is about 20 mins north of Cairns airport, but south of Palm Cove. Tours pick up at reception.

Cairns is a small regional city with around 40 suburbs, one of which is Palm Cove and there's other just as attractive suburbs dotted around its more inland rainforest areas. Edge Hill is just one, only 4km from city with its Flecker Botanical Gardens and Red and Blue Arrow rainforest walking tracks.

The nearest islands with tourist accommodation to Cairns or Port Douglas are the very expensive Lizard Island, which is still a flight from Cairns General Aviation airport (not Port Douglas), and Green Island close to Cairns city. Green Island is a true coral cay with rainforest, but its proximity to mainland and ease of access hasn't done a lot for the coral immediately surrounding it. www.greenislandresort.com.au
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Old Feb 1st, 2010, 06:10 AM
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Thala Beach Lodge was incredible--the highlight of a great trip. It's VERY expensive--but we booked a "last minute" rate at wotif.com. It included an amazing breakfast--but NOT the very expensive dinner (which I didn't care about).

It's not far from Port Douglas and made a good base. It's a fabulous area to explore and there's far more to do than snorkeling at the reef--although that was great, too!
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 09:10 PM
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Last time we were in Port Douglas we stayed at the Shantara Resort (www.shantara.com.au). Very quiet self contained apartments, great spa , and very relaxing. Or if you're after something different you could always stay at the Pink Flamingo Resort (www.pinkflamingo.com.au).
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Old Feb 18th, 2010, 03:58 AM
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bmcc, there are lots of options.
Cheapest deals are with accommodation on the mainland. There are plenty of places in Cairns or one hour further north at Port Douglas. From those locations you can take a trip out to the reef for snorkelling. Quicksilver is one of the best boats that I have been on to outer reef. It docks at a platform(about an hour boat ride from mainland) from which you can snorkel.
The islands are more expensive. Access to islands is from various coastal towns.
I looked up some current prices and they ranged from $233 per night at Brampton Is , $460 at Long Is, $300 - $600+ at Hamilton, $600 at Hayman Is, $378 double at Heron Is. Prices in Australian dollars.
Try to get room with breakfast and transfers included. The really expensive islands are Bedarra and Lizard - out of my price range!

If you want a bit of luxury and fantastic service, try Hayman but be ready to pay extra for meals at approx $40+ per main course for dinner. Launch (extra cost)from Hamilton Is to Hayman is luxurious and champagne with snacks will be served during your trip - a lovely start to your holiday. You can also travel from Airlie Beach. We were on Hayman in Nov, but managed to get a package deal with launch transfer and breakfast included - the best way to go.

The most favoured location for amateur field naturalists is Heron Is where trained guides are available to give nature walks and guided turtle-watching trips. Depending upon time of year, the turtles come up the beach to lay eggs and later the little ones hatch and waddle down beach. Lots of birds to observe. Launch from Gladstone - or helicopter. One great advantage is that you can swim off the beach and view coral. Underwater sub available for coral viewing. Meal packages are available. We have stayed in a Turtle room - the cheapest, but very comfortable.

If you are from overseas, Cairns & Pt Douglas give you more options -- eg, Mosman Gorge National Park, Daintree River, Atherton Tableland & Barron Falls, rainforest and crocodile farm.
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