Where to stay & what do near the Great Barrier Reef

Jul 7th, 2013, 11:52 AM
Original Poster
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Where to stay & what do near the Great Barrier Reef

We will be flying to Cairns in mid-January & will be in the area for 5 nights (we don't get into Cairns until 9:30 p.m. on our 1st night). We want to go to the Great Barrier Reef (neither of us snorkel or scuba, but we understand there is a semi-submersible) & Daintree. Kuranda also sounds interesting. Can we get all that in (assume 1st full day we will not be functioning after long flight)? Also, should we stay in Cairns? Read about Il Palazzo Boutique apartments which sounded nice. Anyone have recommendations for good tour operators to GBR & Daintree? Also any other recommendations for places to stay. From Cairns we will go to Sydney for 5 days & then a 16 day cruise which stays 2 days in Melbourne & the rest of the stops are in New Zealand ending in Auckland. Thanks for any help with this itinerary.
donnap is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 04:46 PM
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Stay in Palm Cove or Port Douglas and not Cairns. Cairns itself has very little to recommend it.

Why do you not snorkel? I'm not sure that most people "snorkel" or "don't snorkel" - it's not something that most people have the opportunity to try so unless you've actually tried it and decided (for whatever reason) it's not for you, I would give it a go.

Wherever you stay will be able to arrange a reef trip for you and will be able to advise whether or not they have a semi-submersible.

Thee are plenty of threads around here with discussions of the "where to stay" question so you may want to review them, if you haven't done so already.
tt7 is online now  
Jul 7th, 2013, 05:22 PM
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donnap, you will have plenty of time to do the things you mention (although you could spend plenty of additional time in the area, there is so much to do!)

With five nights, the first being arrival, do you then have 3 full days, leaving the fourth? The GBR trip, whatever you decide to do, will be one full day.

We have generally rented our own car for our visits to Daintree, but there are many tour operators that will pick you up and take you on a trip if that is what you want to do. Will you want to self-drive or have someone drive you? That will be another full day.

The third full day, I know you mentioned Kuranda, but I have to tell you I kind of hated it. I might instead suggest to you that you visit the Atherton Tablelands for your third full day, and maybe even overnight there in Yungaburra before returning for your flight on that 4th day (what time is your flight). Beautiful landscape, waterfalls, really lovely.

I have never stayed in Cairns, Palm Cove, or Port Douglas, but that is generally what I hear. Stay in PC or PD rather than Cairns. You dont' have to stay in Cairns for your GBR trip. We have stayed in Red Mill House in Daintree Village and really enjoy that. It is very quiet though and a very small village, so if you are a nightlife sort of person this would not be for you.

There are many great trip reports here. You might look for one by RalphSNR (not sure if the last letters are right) as there might be some very helpful information from that portion of his trip.
Toucan2 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 05:54 PM
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Thinking Toucan is referring to my recent trip report from North Qld:


I also posted one after our 2008 trip to the same area:

RalphR is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 06:30 PM
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Thanks Ralph, I was having a bit of a brain block. I got the Ralph part right, and the final R at least.
Toucan2 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 07:10 PM
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We loved staying in cape tribulation. Its very laid back, and
right on the beach almost. Fantastic reef access also.
Images2 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 05:26 AM
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annhig is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 08:49 PM
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bookmarking for my trip in august
dutyfree is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 10:53 PM
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Snorkel! You will regret it if you don't and the weather will be perfect for it!

I would advise staying in Port Douglas as well, it is amazing up there.
TravelBound96 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 03:14 AM
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I just posted a brief trip report from our visit to Cairns & Port Douglas. I agree with others that you should give the snorkeling a go. It only took me a few minutes to get the hang of it and I really enjoyed floating around on top of the coral.
We really enjoyed Mossman Gorge. The walks there range in difficulty so there's something for everyone.
I forgot to say in my trip report that we called in to the Shannonvale fruit winery. For $10 (or of you buy a bottle of anything) you can taste from their entire wine list. The people who own the winery are very interesting and informative. It's a lovely way top spend an hour or so.
Kwaussie is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 05:35 AM
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Presumably "bmking" means "bookmarking"? Excuse my ignorance, but how does placing that text (or "bookmarking for my trip in august") as a response in a thread provide you with any sort of bookmark? Certainly, it will cause this thread to - temporarily - be listed as the most recent responded to -- but over time, it will then sink out of sight again. If you copy the URL of this thread -
- and then paste that into a spreadsheet or some other document that you maintain offline, it will provide you with a link back to this thread. Adding a meaningless bit of text to the thread itself adds nothing useful - or is there something so new/subtle/techie to this technique that it eludes me?
tt7 is online now  
Jul 11th, 2013, 08:50 AM
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kind of you to post this advice twice, tt7!

you posted exactly the same post word for word here:


see - I can do it too!
annhig is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Because the thread will appear under Topics You Commented On in your profile.
Patty is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 10:00 AM
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As Patty said. And then you can find it easily within Fodors, without going to an external document such as a spreadsheet. A good many of us do this all the time if we want to be able to come back to a thread.
Toucan2 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 01:48 PM
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I see - what a great way do it - demonstrate how lazy you are and clog up threads with meaningless posts. Obviously, ymmv.
tt7 is online now  
Jul 11th, 2013, 02:23 PM
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Similar to yours explaining why we are doing it all wrong? People have been doing that this way on Fodors for many years. It is nothing new. Sorry it annoys you.
Toucan2 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 02:12 AM
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I travelled in that area several years ago, arriving at Cairns Airport, too late to catch the bus to Port Douglas (my first choice), so opted for Palm Cove instead. Palm Cove is one of the suburbs north of Cairns, on a stretch of beautiful beaches. January is well into the stinger (box jellyfish) season, so I'm not sure how useable the beaches will be unless they have stinger nets.

Cairns is a largish town, so a different atmosphere from Palm Cove and Port D. There is a lot more to do there, including day trips to Fitzroy and Green islands, and best of all, trips to the outer reef. I took the Quicksilver cruise to Agincourt Reef, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. If you don't have your own snorkel, mask & fins you can use their loaner equipment. Quicksilver is actually based in Port Douglas, so it's quicker to the reef from there.

During the trip I also stayed at Cape Tribulation (closest thing to paradise I have ever seen) and Cooktown, where Captain Cook beached his ship for repairs.
Heimdall is offline  

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