We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

Which Cairns hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Level Contributor
199 posts
10 reviews
Save Topic
Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

hi,

I am going to Australia for the first time with 3 friends ( we are 30 y.o). We are planning 4 nights in Sydney and then plan on spending 4 days in Cairns and then heading to Surfers paradise for 4 nights. My questions are we are going Jan 7-21. is it worth going to cairns and surrounding beaches and the reef during this time of year secondary to the stingers? should we spend more time at surfers paradise so we can swim? are the school holidays over by then? We would like to do a day trip to the reef, rainforest, cairns exploring and some nightlife. We picked this itinerary ourselves so we reallylhave no idea what we are doing:)) also what about airlie beach or whithaven beach? can you go to whitehaven beach from cairns by boat?

Australia
Level Contributor
1,055 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

A few points for you:

- Jan 7-21 is right in the middle of the school/Christmas holidays here.

- Cairns will be hot, humid and wet and yes..it is stinger season so it is advisable to wear a stinger suit when swimming in the water.

- If you wish to spend most of your time swimming at the beaches then SE Queensland (Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast) may be a better choice for you (no stingers).

- Surfer's Paradise is on the Gold Coast.....not Sunshine Coast.

- The Gold Coast has some rainforests in the Hinterland

- Whitehaven Beach and Airlie Beach are in The Whitsunday Islands... no where near Cairns (about 650kms away).

Hope this helps

Jo

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane, Noosa
Level Contributor
5,850 posts
146 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

Hi Bostonsun

You can still visit the reef, just wear a stinger suit which will be provided by tour operators. Head to Cairns for a reef and / or rainforest experience.

If you want a beach location, yes Surfers will be great for swiming.

Unfortunately this is peak holiday season.

Whitehaven Beach is accessable from Airlie Beach, a long way south of Cairns, you would need to fly or drive from Cairns.

Happy planning

Level Contributor
199 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

Thanks for your responses.....a few more ??? looks like 3 days in cairns will be enough for us we would rather spend more time on the gold coast. Would it make more sense to stay at Airlie beach?? rather than cairns/palm cove area to enjoy the great barrier reef but then I cant do the rainforest ect.....also you mentioned this was peak holiday vacation...does this mean that cairns and gold coast will be VERY crowded and tough getting flights to/from??? or do a lot of Australians stay away from Cairns and gold cooast in the hot summer months?

Uden, The...
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

Hi Bostonsun

On your trip I would go Sydney first for 4-5 days. Then take a flight to Brisbane, hire a car and explore both Sunshine Coast (my favorite) and Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise is like Miami Beach, but with higher buildings. Great beaches. You also might visit Byron Bay. North of Brisbane there's Noosa Heads, but it will be crowded either. North of Noosa Heads is Hervey Bay and a visit to Fraser Island is highly recommended. Also visit Australian Zoo 75 km north of Brisbane, and, of course Brisbane is worth visiting. Take 5-6 days to explore.

From Brisbane to Cairns. Yes, it's hot and humid and stingers are present but Daintree NP (rainforests) likes a lot of rain. To visit both Daintree NP and GBR Port Douglas makes a good place to stay. You can easily spend 4-5 days in this region.

Tet{:o)-

Australia
Level Contributor
1,055 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

Most coastal Queensland areas are more crowded during the summer holidays.

The Gold Coast in particular will be VERY crowded in January.

The population actually doubles during school/Christmas holidays.

If you want to go to the Gold Coast I would book NOW.

I think you will get a much better reef experience in Cairns than the Whitsundays (Airlie beach) and Cairns has by far the best rainforests.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane, Noosa
Level Contributor
5,850 posts
146 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

I am not sure about Cairns, however the Gold Coast will be at it's busiest at this time of year. Book your accomodation now.

Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays is a really nice coastal town with lots of island resorts and access to the reefs, whereas Cairns is a city with beautiful surrounding rainforests and reefs. Both offer good diving.

Cairns, Australia
Level Contributor
400 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

bostonsun; You can be assured than many Australians visit Gold Coast in January, its peak summer holiday time and usually glorious weather for its many surfing beaches.

Cairns is some 1700km north, in the tropics. It is hot and humid in January, as is much of coastal Queensland. It also happens to be one of the very best months to visit the reef with little wind, sunny skies and top underwater visibility. Right now in winter, its windy with very unpleasant reef conditions, and I'm afraid that's typical. Cairns/Port Douglas in January isn't crowded, most think that its too hot and stay away, when its really one of the best months of the year to experience the GBR.

Box jelly fish and irukandji are a danger on tropical coastal waters in January, this also includes Whitsundays and Airlie Beach. So no beach swimming unless in a netted area or wearing stinger suit. For the reef, be guided by the crew as to whether you need to wear a stinger suit, they all hire them out.

sydney Australia
Level Contributor
51 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

Hi Bostonsun

I think 4 nights in Sydney will be perfect- especially to get over the jet lag. The weather will be fantastic but really hot- im from sydney. I would suggest you avoid the gold coast and go to the sunshine coast (noosa, coolum, mooloolaba) it is about and hour and a half north of brisbane. There is alot to do and will be really beautiful- Its my favourite place in aus! From there you could do a day trip to fraser island and you could swim both in the beautiful lakes or ocean.

Even though it's stinger season I still think that you should check out the tropical north. I would suggest you stay in cairns, that way you could go out to the reef, do a day trip to an island as well as go to the daintree rainforest and port douglas which are beautiful spots.

Airlie beach is quite away from there so you would fly to either cairns or airlie not to both. Cairns give you more options especially as it will be very hot and maybe rainy. You can't really swim in the ocean in any of these areas unless you wear a stinger suit. Stingers are not as common on the islands/ reef mainly around the mainland but still dont risk it without the suit. (

It is school holidays and peak tourist season especially january 1-12 so everywhere will be busy and expensive during that time.

Good luck,best wishes you'll love aus where ever you go!

aussie

9. Re: Cairns, great barrier reef and sunshine coast

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 15 August 2009, 20:18