EXPLORING CAIRNS AND THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

Want to experience tropical beauty in Australia? Go to Cairns!  Often the starting point for those wanting to snorkel and scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, this place is also abundant with beautiful beaches, mountains, rain forest, rivers, gorges, waterfalls, and wildlife.

Other than listed above, this place is also packed with activities for the adrenaline junkies. The most popular one being skydiving. Imagine freefalling with views of greens from the rainforest and blues from the ocean. AHHHH! AMAZING! The town itself is lined with hip bars and restaurants, and it has a salt water swimming pool called the esplanade lagoon. It also has numerous park with public bbq…how cool! Wish we have this in Toronto.

We spent 4 days in total here. The first day, we spent buying groceries, exploring the park and had some bbq and picnic.

Having a picnic on our first day in Cairns!

Then we went snorkeling in the Great Barrief Reef on our second day. The next day we visited numerous waterfalls and rivers. And we spent our last day in Cape Tribulation, exploring Daintree rain forest and doing a wildlife cruise.  It was an awesome trip. Here is the details about our trip:

WHERE TO STAY

We stayed at Caravella Backpackers– a hostel that is very close to the main strip.  This place was great- it has a swimming pool, and a shared kitchen where we cook almost every night. We booked a private room for AUD 70 per night. The room is bigger than we thought with AC, a living room ,private bathroom, and a fridge. Highly recommended to stay here is you want to stay in a central location and stay on a budget.  It is also a great place to meet new people!

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Caravella Backpackers- photo via booking.com

GREAT BARRIER REEF

There are many tour operators in Cairns offering trip to the Great Barrier Reef but after some research, we decided to go snorkeling with Compass Cruises.  As you know,  a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is not cheap, but this tour makes it affordable.  Not only that it is affordable, it also sounded like the most fun out of all the other tours as it has some boom netting and wine on board 😉 It is geared towards younger crowd although all age is welcome.

We went snorkeling to two different spots. The first stop was alright. There was lots of corals but not as colorful as to our second snorkeling spot. We also spotted many colourful fishes on the second spot. If you go in February like we did, you must wear a protective suit to protect you from deadly jellyfishes! They also provide some morning tea and snacks as well as BBQ lunch which was delicious. Prepare to spend a full day when you go to the Great Barrier Reef.

Tour Operator: Compass Cruises

Price: AUD 109.

Length: Full day activity

Lunch: Included and it was delicious!

Amazing underwater at The Great Barrier Reef.

TABLELANDS AND WATERFALLS ADVENTURE

We used Cape Trip Connection as our tour operator as it was recommended by our hostel. The day started off with a pick-up from your accommodation in their mini-bus. We realized we weren’t in Thailand anymore when they came right on time. Our tour guide was excellent- providing us with tons of information along with sarcastic yet enjoyable jokes that cracked us up.

Our first stop was Lake Eacham where we had a morning tea as well as a quick swim.  The guide mentioned that there are crocodiles in this lake but being they are fresh water crocodiles, and as long as we swim in the swimming area, it was all safe. The lake has beautiful emerald green and blue water, and provides a refreshing swim. We then visited a pretty cool curtain fig tree, and walked through Malanda Environmental Park where we spotted a tree kangaroo. Man, they are small and hard to spot! After lunch, we headed to Milla Milla Falls– where we swam and went around the back of the falls. Cool experience as we got a different perspective of view and sound of the falls. We saw some girls flipping their hairs for Instagram as this spot is famous from a Herbal Essence shampoo commercials. We then went to Babinda Boulders. Sadly, we were not allowed to swim at the time as it was rainy season and tend to be dangerous. It has claimed a few life. However, during the dry season, you can go down a natural water slide. Before the tour ended, we stopped by a river where it was safe to swim. It has the clearest water we’ve ever seen, and Steve jumped off a tree a few times! Go watch some footage on the video at the end of this article or click here 😉

Tour Operator: Cape trip Connection

Price: AUD 89. **Our hostel has a partnership with them and gave us a discount**

Length: Full day activity

Lunch: Not included but they will stop by a town where you can buy your lunch or bring your own!

At Milla Milla Falls.

CAPE TRIBULATION

On our last day in Cairns, we did another tour with Cape Trib Connection to Cape Tribulation. We picked them again because honestly they were the cheapest option- great for budget traveler, and they provide such awesome experience!

There is an overnight tour to Cape Tribulation but we chose the one day tour. Again, we were picked-up from our hostel.  Our first activity was a relaxing walk over the rain forest where we learned about different types of plants and spotted lots of giant spiders! We then had lunch at Cape Trib beach- where the ocean meets the rain forest.  We were the only one there. Beware as you cannot swim because the reef is full of salt water crocodiles and jellyfishes. Salt water crocs are highly aggressive, dangerous, and could kill!

After lunch and before going to our wildlife cruise, we stopped by a local ice cream company to taste some delicious tropical fruit ice cream. The big appeal about the wildlife cruise is that we hope to see crocodiles while ruising through the Daintree river.  There are some saltwater crocs that swim through this river so be careful not to fall! 😛 After seeing some snakes ad lots of bats, we were excited to finally see a crocodile. It took a while before we spotted a baby croc. It was resting on a log, and we learned that crocs loves to rest under the sun to regain energy. They are very efficient animal. It was a bit disappointing to spot just a baby one as we were hoping to see some nasty looking, big, aggressive one.  We cruised one the river for sometime and just before the end of it, we spotted a mommy croc with its family hiding behind the bushes.  It was definitely cool to see and the highlight of our trip.

We ended the day by swimming in Mossman Gorge. The water was so clear and tempting, and we were so quick to dip into the water not knowing the fast flowing water was so strong! You definitely have to be a strong swimmer to swim through the rush of the water. Ivana ran out of breath after a quick while but Steve was having so much fun swimming and didn’t until we had to go. It was a perfect ending to our time in Cairns.

Tour Operator: Cape trip Connection

Price: AUD 166 with lunch OR AUD 149 without lunch. **Our hostel has a partnership with them and gave us a discount**

Length: Full day activity

Lunch: Included if you pick the lunch tour package or bring your own! Note that Cape Trib beach has no place to buy lunch.

Stopped by this gorgeous lookout in Cape Tribulations.

See more of our adventure, and footage of us snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, visiting beautiful waterfalls, and Steve jumping off a tree ↓↓↓

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6 Replies to “EXPLORING CAIRNS AND THE GREAT BARRIER REEF”

  1. I LOVE australia! Hoping to head there in November 🙂 It has been a dream of mine to see the great barrier reef it looks BEAUTIFUL

  2. i am a HUGE fan of underwater photos and CANNOT wait to go scuba diving in Australia, this is such a huge bucket list item for me! Thanks for this post 😀

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