Suggested tours/hotels around Cairns

Old Feb 26th, 2004, 09:28 PM
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Suggested tours/hotels around Cairns

I've been searching for hours on this fantasic forum, but have yet to settle on an itinerary for the Cairns leg of our 3 weeks in Australia. Which hotel to stay at, which tours to take, should we rent a car, etc.

We have five full days in the area and would like to see:
- Daintree rainforest
- Great Barrier Reef, a bit of snorkeling perhaps
- Atherton Tablelands (Undara lava tubes, and anything else that's great here)
- Cape Tribulation
- Kuranda/Skyrail

So far, it sounds like everyone recommends Port Douglas as a base. So which tours are everyone's favs? I've heard about David Armbrust, but $225AUD/person? Is it that good to see the animals up close? We're very keen on taking smaller tours, and staying away from the big bus tours, though.

Is Lizard Island really the best way to see the GBR? Silky Oaks sounds great, but what makes it worth so much per night? Would we be just as well off staying at a bit more affordable place? Don't get me wrong; I don't mind paying top dollar for memorable experiences... I just want to be sure I'm not overpaying unnecessarily, since we don't require 5 star service. I guess I'm not sure how that resort adds so much value.

All suggestions are very much appreciated.

Thanks,
Dave.
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 10:59 PM
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Hi copen - 5 days to cover all you'd like to see is stretching it - however, here goes:

You don't need a car for Kuranda Train/Skyrail and maybe include Tjakupai Aboriginal Cultural Park or the reef if you stay in Cairns/Palm Cove as tours will pick up at your accommodation. Cape Tribulation is also "doable" as a day trip from Cairns, it's an hour closer if you stay at Port Douglas. Undara LavaTubes can be reached by coach from Cairns or you can self-drive. It is possible to do as a daytrip but it's a long way and would be better if you overnighted there. They have restored railway carriages or permanent tent accommodation.

There's a 5 star B&B which is highly recommended by Frommers - very much in the style of Silky Oaks - you would need a car to stay at Marae - it's 15 mins north of Port Douglas. Tariff is from AUD$140 a night a double and includes great breakfast - only a short drive over to Silky Oaks for dinner if you like. If you look on the local B&B/Farmstay website on www.bnbnq.com.au you'll find plenty of reasonably priced places to stay in some of the best areas - Marae is there under the heading "North". Marae's website also includes recommendations for the better tours of the area - some of which I have never seen mentioned on this site. I know the previous owner carefully researched these trips and has only recommended the best.
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Old Feb 27th, 2004, 12:17 AM
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sorry copen - forgot to answer your other question - no,of course,you dont have to go to Lizard Island to see the reef at its best. Just bear in mind that a day trip can only go so far, but there's some great ones - Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay out of Cairns is one - for snorkelling only Wavelength out of Port Douglas is hard to beat.
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Old Feb 28th, 2004, 07:01 PM
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Great info !! So based on this, is Port Douglas a better place to use as home base?
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Old Feb 28th, 2004, 07:59 PM
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Not really - Port Douglas is a bit closer to Daintree and Cape Trib - Cairns/Palm Cove is closer to Atherton Taleland and Undara Lava tubes - both have easy reef access. I just mentioned Marae which happens to be near Port Douglas as a less expensive option to nearby Silky Oaks, which you had mentioned.
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