Trip Report - Snorkelling out of Palm Cove

Jan 31st, 2006, 02:55 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 133
Trip Report - Snorkelling out of Palm Cove

I posted a message here a couple of weeks ago, asking for advice about snorkelling out of Palm Cove, and I am glad I did.

We flew into Cairns on Jan 18, organised a shuttle bus to the Oasis resort at Palm Cove, and was on our way within 15 minutes. I also paid in advance for the return trip, making sure they noted that my flight departure time was 6.10 am in the morning a week later.
The Oasis was very well presented; our apartment had 3 bedrooms, and superbly appointed - the best kitchen we ever had for a holiday. And spotless too. The palm fringed ground, swimming pool and bbq area were very well maintained. Because it was a quiet period, we had the pool and bbq area to ourselves most of the time we were there. At nightime when we played in the pool, we spotted bats gliding over the water. In the daytime, it was butterflies over the water. And one particular day a kookaburra (I think) with a lizard in its beak.
The only thing lacking was a sea/beach view. For that, you'd have to pay about double at the adjoining Angsana, Horizon, etc. What we got was a very comfortable home away from home.
We had dinner at a 'Tavern' just across the road from the Oasis. Sally, our hostess pointed it out to us as a great place for a meal, and we heartily agreed.
That first evening, I called Wavelength to inquire about snorkelling with them. They assured me that the next day would be a perfect day for snorkelling. 'Steve' booked the four of us in.
We were picked by a shuttle bus 7.30 am the next day, taking less than an hour to Port Douglas. The boat was comfortable but not fancy. There were about 20 of us. It was indeed perfect condition for snorkelling. I think Wavelength is more about the destinations than the journey. Because it was snorkelling we were after, we were not disappointed at all. The 3 spots we snorkelled at were fabulous. Marine life and corals of all shapes in startling colours were in abundance. We saw lots of giant clams, parrot fish (you could actually hear them crunching on the corals), coral trouts, a huge maori wrasse, and myriads of colorful smaller fish (including Nemo and his friends). That day was the highlight of our trip, and we made a mental note to return one day. Wavelength crew was immensely helpful. 'Big G' converted my wife from a non swimmer to dedicated snorkeller. I told the crew that 'Fish Boy' highly recommended them.

The next 3 days we hired a car to drive around: Port Douglas, Daintree, Kuranda, Mareeba and Cairns town centre.
I must confess that I expected more from Daintree. The 'Discovery Centre' was less than what we imagined it to be. It was a very hot and humid day, so that might have affected our enjoyment of it. With hindsight, I should have taken the advice of Pat Woolford and Sally of Seattle, and went with a knowledgeable guide to appreciate the rainforest.

Kuranda has its charm if one overlooks its occasional tackiness. The walk to Barron Falls was immensely enjoyable and is highly recommeded. I thought the rainforest there was great. It had rained overnight and was still drizzling during our day at Kuranda. The falls were fairly robust. We actually appreciate the cooling effect of the rain during our trip.
We left Kuranda and drove to Mareeba on the Kennedy Highway. Lots of termite hills - a fascinating sight. About 10 kms before reaching Mareeba, we saw a sign which simply said 'Bowen Mangoes for Sale'. It was a mangoes farm. Stopping there was one of the best things we did during our trip. We bought a box of mangoes. But it was the farmers 'Bob and Bernadette Pascoe' who made it all worthwhile for us. Bob was genuinely pleased to see us take an interest in his mangoes. He invited us to examine his trees, telling us everything we wanted to know about mangoes - the varieties, the history, the reason for blemishes...Then showed us how his mangoes were prepared for shipment and sale. We took a number of nice pics with him. He also invited us to help ourselves to more mangoes off his trees. And before we left, cut up a mangoe, and asked us what we thought. I can asssure you - mangoes fresh off a tree was nothing like what we've ever tasted (and we are mangoes fanatic). And the box that Bob picked for us was absolutely the best we've ever tasted. I am weeping as I type these words.... Bob had wanted to show us the lychees as well but they were not fruiting then. Sadly we bid farewell to the Pascoes and told ourselves that this is a place we must return one day. Bob said he intended to name his farm 'Pascoevale'.

We checked out 'Coffee Works' in Mareeba. Not bad. Nice iced coffee. Bought half a kilo 'Queensland Blue'.

During out trip we enjoyed meeting the locals. We appreciate the uncomplicated easy going nature of the people we met. We stopped just beyond Port Douglas on the Cooks highway to buy some papayas and pineaples. The lady explained that they grew their own papayas - in fact one of the varieties on offer was named after her husband. 'Brunos Specials' was mouth wateringly delicious. And the pineapples were like nothing we buy in Sydney. Sun ripened, they were juicy and sweet from head to tail - no sour ends.
Probably the most disappointing aspect of our trip was a cruise out of Cairns to 'catch mud crabs' and fish. The cruise promised a meal of freshly cooked mud crabs. There were four of us, plus 24 Japanese tourists crammed into a most inadequate set up. My wife who had been fighting breast cancer, was particularly unhappy about being in close proximity with smokers and there were plenty of them. And there was no place to run. However I tried to make conversation with them. Finally got some of them excited by mentioning 'Dar-Vee Bar-Kum' (David Beckham). That resulted in some semblance of excitable chatting - mainly about soccer and the match up between Australia and Japan come the World Cup. If you are after a meal of crabs this is not the trip to take, either. I watched with some concern as a number of food handling regulations were ignored as the crabs were prepared. Better to buy some crabs yourself and cook them. Fishing shoulder to shoulder with handlines in a crammed situation was again most unenjoyable.
I was somewhat annoyed also because I gave up a trip with Ocean Spirit to take this cruise. I would strike this one out the next time, and definately do 2 snorkelling trips instead - probably with Wavelength and Ocean Spirit (which Pat said would be a 'different experience).
It was a terrific trip. Palm Cove was pretty. On our final day we had a meal at 'Nu Nu' - the coconut sorbet was something to die for.
We woke up early to catch the 4.30 am shuttle to the airport. I had called the day before expressing concern that we might be cutting it too thin given that our plane was scheduled to leave about 6 am. We walked down to the reception area at 4.15 am - and the shuttle was already there, waiting. Most impressed.
All in all, a most enjoyable holiday. We'll be back!!
eschaton is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 03:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,083
Hi eschaton,
So pleased you enjoyed the Oasis, we were there a few years ago and we loved it.
We had a bad experience at the Tavern which made me angry but I actually had a mail from Oasis just yesterday explaining that the tavern was totally refurbished and new staff and management and it is now a great place to visit.
Its 4 years since we were there, my anger must have left an impression.
In fact the new owners of Oasis too experienced bad service so agreed with my comments. It's nice to know someone listens.

We love the apartments and it was very quiet there when we were there too. Just paradise and although not overlooking the sea was just a few mins walk away.

Mucky is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 02:01 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 133
hi Muck,

The Oasis felt like a quiet retreat with all the mod cons I needed, and a helpful reception. When on holidays I prefer not to have hotel-like setting with staffs hovering around all you do; so the Oasis was just right for my family.
The Tavern did a reasonable job with the food. It has an adequate menu with daily specials. Compared with other establishments around there, you get a lot for the money. One evening they were probably understaffed. But we were not in a hurry so that did not bother us. The service was polite and efficient, though not of silver service class. I returned one overcooked steak, which the waitress readily acknowledged, and replaced with apologies.
eschaton is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 03:29 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
hi eschaton: thanks for the interesting trip report and sorry about your experience on Catch a Clab. Qld smoking regulations are pretty tough these days and do not allow smoking in closed or semi-enclosed food areas and there are tough fines involved. For restaurants/cafes etc which have outdoor tables, smoking is only tolerated in a few and then the smoker's table must be 4 metres from door of establishment. So there's no way Catch a Crab is following this regulation, its not big enough. But Japanese do love mudcrabs, they cost an arm and a leg in Japan and many Japanese, especially the men, smoke heavily, so Catch a Crab must be turning a blind eye.

Glad you enjoyed our tropical fruit, you must come back in mangosteen season.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 04:12 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 133
hi Pat,

I am an avid fan of your mails on this forum!
Mangosteen - I was in Malaysia last year and some friends fed me lots and lots of mangosteen, and gave me a 2 kilo bag to take back to the Hilton at Sentral, KL. I skipped lunch the next day and had mangosteen - white luscious flesh, but beware the purple stain.
Only yesterday, I emailed a friend telling her I missed the mangosteen most of all.

Pat, when actually is the season? I am a fruit lover.

About the smoke - a shame, because the concept of catchacrab could have worked. And it was fun meeting other people, even if the wife was trying to breath through her t-shirt. And certainly 30 on board was too many. For Aussie soccer fans, I did promise that the Socceroos would inflict a 1-0 scoreline over them in the World Cup.
eschaton is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Thank you eschaton. Mangosteens are my favourite tropical fruit too, ate a bag of them in Vietnam, where they also grow profusely. Here the seasons are October and February, not as prolific as mango so more expensive - for heaps of information on local tropical fruit see - look under "North" for Cape Tribulation Exotic Fruit Farm, which is also a B&B and a fine place to stay.

Rusty's Market in Cairns (Fri/Sat/Sun) is also good for tropical fruits and fresh ingredients for Asian dishes, spices, local coffee, the most delicious yoghurt you've ever tasted, varieties of Australian olive oils, and home baked Italian breads. A refreshing drink at Rustys, freshly squeezed, is made from crushed sugar cane, ice and fresh lime juice.
pat_woolford is offline  
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