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first time

West Midlands, uk
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365 posts
30 reviews
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first time

Hi -Just wanted to know about Cairns really -

It seems a nice place to stay if you want to be close to the great barrier reef -What else is actually around to do?

Do you have to go with a tour operator to actually snorkel/dive in the reef?

Which is the best month to go?

We'd like to be near a lot of other attractions too, so is Cairns right for us?

Praslin Island...
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250 posts
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1. Re: first time

Far North Queensland is a wonderful and fantastic place with tons of attractions and sites to see.

Cairns is a nice place, however I prefer the smaller town of Port Douglas. It is about 1 hour north of Cairns. All tours leave also from Port. It is the closest point to the Outer Reef and much closer to the Daintree NP.

From Port, there are several great diving/snorkelling operators. From what you say, you are into diving and snorkelling. I would recommend either Poseidon, Calypso or Haba. There is no real difference between those operators. They all visit 2-3 sites a day and offer Introductory and Certified diving as well as snorkelling.

The other area you should not miss is the Daintree & Cape Tribulation NP. The rainforest up there is one of the oldest type of rainforest on the planet. I absolutely love the area with its secluded beaches, crystal clear streams and waterfalls.

There are lots of tours available. You can join one of the standard tours like Tony's Tropical Tours, Gary's Safari or Deluxe Safari. They all offer the same things on their tours (River cruise, walk in the forest and Cape Tribulation). If you are a little more adventurous, I would really recommend Pete Baxendell from Daintree-Specialised-Tours. He offers bushwalks in the Daintree rainforest or Private Charters. A charter has the advantage that you can creater your own day and see everything at your own pace.

Port D. and Cairns offer lots of other attractions, eg Kuranda with the scenic train & Skyrail (touristy), Animal parks (Rainforest habitat in Port D. is lovely) and crocodile farms, White Water Rafting, Horseback Riding (beach or rainforest), Skydiving, ATV Safaris, and and and.......

There is no real best month to go up there. Of course you have the dry months (June - November) and the wet season (November - May), but every season has its good and bad sides. Winter is dry but windy which can be a disadvantage if you want to go to the reef, there is less water in the creeks in the rainforest. Summer is very humid and hot, it is stinger season, however there is less wind and most likely the creeks are up and running for a cool dip into one of the freshwater creeks.

No matter which time of the year you will go, you will love it.

If you want more info and links, just visit

www.wonderfulaustralia.com

Hope this will help

pa
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504 posts
7 reviews
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2. Re: first time

Hello

We just returned from 2 months in Australia and New Zealand. What I will say will only confuse you but it will add some information for you as well.

We originally planned to stay in PD on our trip however after an error in planning I realized that the Hotel Versace 5* that we had booked (thinking it was in PD) was actually on the Gold Coast several hours away by plane. I had heard mixed reviews of the Mirage and felt I did not want to spend that much money for mixed reviews but understand the property is beautiful. We had to change reservations quickly and ended up booking at the Shangri La on the water edge in Cairns. No beach though.

We loved being in Cairns and being able to walk everywhere. It has alot of action multi cultural and busy including backpackers and is not as secluded and pristine as Port Douglas but we were very happy with the location especially after spending 2 weeks driving in Tasmania and the Great Ocean Road all the way to Cape Jervis where there was very little traffic and people but very beautiful.

If I were in PD I think I would have liked a car but others do fine without it. We went through PD to Daintree Cape Tribulation and also did Kuranda. I liked the casino in Cairns and won $160 on the penny machine. Of course I was betting more than a penny at a time.

The people we met that stayed in PD loved it. The people we met that stayed N of Cairns loved it. The beaches are beautiful up North however I am not sure how they are to swim in.

We took a 4 day reef cruise so I have nothing to offer about the day trips but others seemed to like Quicksilver. Quite frankly I watched the boats leave every morning and come back every evening from our balcony and it look liked there were hundreds of people on and off every boat.

Keep asking questions. We went to Cairns in August. Warm but the water was cold for us.... husband is a Miami boy. The ocean and snorkeling were cool but doable. The weather is Aus summer can be 100 degrees and 100% humidity.

Keep asking questions. Everyone on the board helped me plan and as soon as we unpack I will post about our journeys.

West Midlands, uk
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365 posts
30 reviews
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3. Re: first time

thankyou both so much for your information - we just got back from Las Vegas and are already planning our next trip - We're very interested in going to Rainforests/Zoos/Scuba Diving Anything to do with animals because we're big animal lovers

Do you recommend any hotels? How long would we need in Australia? Is it easy to get trips to New Zealand once you're there? Also if you don't have a car is it easy to get around?

Once again thanks for your help, we appreciate any information

Ontario, CAN
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491 posts
56 reviews
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4. Re: first time

Hello Rose....will await your trip report as we are planning a 10 week trip for Feb 06. Interested in how much time you spent in each locale etc. etc. I am reading the board like mad!!!

Praslin Island...
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250 posts
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5. Re: first time

VickynCarla, your question on how long you will need is hard to answer. Australia is such a big country with so many great things to see, you will never have enough time to see everything. Maybe you can give us an idea on how long you are planning to spend there and where you are planning to go.

pa
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504 posts
7 reviews
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6. Re: first time

Hi All

I hope to have some time later in the week to post about our trip. We got back last week after being gone 2 months and it is so difficult to catch up but we are getting there.

As others were saying it takes alot of time to plan for a trip to Australia. I prebooked all my flights from the states to Aus, through the country and throug NZ. We were on a total of 12 flights but you need to fly as it takes too long to drive. The country (aus) is as large as the US.

Take your time. Ask alot of questions. Sift through info and then plan according to what you feel will work for you.

West Midlands, uk
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365 posts
30 reviews
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7. Re: first time

Cant wait to see your trip report Rose - We're only planning 3 weeks because thats how long our holiday time is, would stay way longer otherwise

Need to fit in as much as possible, but don't know where to stay or go other than the obvious great barrier reef, sydney opera house/rainforest/zoo

thanks for replies

Praslin Island...
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250 posts
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8. Re: first time

If you ask me, do Sydney for a week, Port Douglas/Cairns for a week, Ayers Rock for 3 days and if you feel like it Melbourne for 2 days or just go back to Sydney for the 2 days. Wouldn't pack more into the 3 weeks - too stressfull! If you need further advise on the different areas, just let us know.

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340 posts
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9. Re: first time

Rosepointe,

Just curious at your mention of your reef cruise...

Did you do a Coral Princess 4 day reef cruise?

We are booked to do that Cairns-Lizard Island-Cairns.

Would love to hear your cruise experience.