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.

Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

Which Cairns hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Adderbury, UK
Level Contributor
11 posts
11 reviews
Save Topic
Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

Hi,

My wife and I are planning a 2 1/2 week-trip to Australia at the beginning of May. We'll first do Perth (5 days) then Sydney (3 days) and we're flying to Cairns with 7 days to go until our return flight to the UK (from Cairns).

We've looked at staying in Cape Trib for some or all of the time (at least 4 nights) but I'm starting to wonder if it's the best use of our time in Queensland.

We want to see the Great Barrier Reef, is Cape Trib a good launch pad to see it?

Should we try to head south towards the Whitsundays islands? Isn't it too far to drive there?

Also, should we think of stopping in Cairns, in Port Douglas?

Sorry for the amount of questions but we're a bit lost. We don't want to rush around every day trying to do everything but it'd be a shame to miss out something that we'd regret afterwards. Usual dilemma isn't it?

Thanks for your help.

gk
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
2,280 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

Hi scof

Okay, firstly the Whitsundays are a fair whack from Cairns. You can fly direct from Cairns to Hamilton Island and back, but it depends on what you're after. If you want to stay on a tropical island, relax all day and see the reef, then the Whitsundays definitely fit this bill.

If you'd like to do more - see the rainforest etc, then Cairns/Port Douglas would be a better starting point as you can do much more than just the reef from there.

Right! So if you do want to do all that, then you just have to choose where you want to base yourself. Here's my comments on your three choices:

Cairns - a city, so you won't have trouble filling 7 days with things to do. Further away from the reef and rainforest though.

Cape Tribulation - lovely rainforest setting, limited number of reef trips running from here, might get a bit boring.

Port Douglas - great compromise - small enough that you feel on holiday, close enough to everything (reef, rainforest, Kuranda, Cairns etc).

If it were me, I would spend 4 days in Port Douglas and then 2-3 up in Cape Trib. In Port, you can get trips to the reef and to Kuranda. In Cape Trib you can see and experience the beautiful rainforest.

Hope that helps! I'm sure other people will have different suggestions as well. :)

Adderbury, UK
Level Contributor
11 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

Thanks qk!

That's probably the Whitsundays out then. We were in the Cook Islands last year so tropical island, relax all day and see the reef, we know what it's like! (not that it isn't a very enjoyable way to spend a week mind you... :)

We're not city types so we'll leave Cairns out but looking at Port Douglas, you're right, it looks very pretty and well worth staying for a few days We could even do that on the way back to get closer to Cairns airport.

One thing I'm not sure is Kuranda. When you spend 4 days in the Daintree rainforest, isn't Kuranda redundant?

gk
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
2,280 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

Well Kuranda is definitely not the Daintree, but it does have its charms. The main attraction being Skyrail (http://www.skyrail.com.au/). You've also got tourist markets and local wildlife attractions up there as well.

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
3,544 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

If your flights aren't already booked, you could consider flying to the Whitsundays and then flying to Cairns. We did a 3 night sailing trip around the Whitsundays, and it's probably the thing I most want to do again. Nothing like sitting on the beach on a tropical island for a week.

We then drove north and stayed in Port Douglas. I was a little disappointed with PD. I thought the same thing you do, I'm not a city person (we didn't even go to Sydney). So I ruled out Cairns. But then other than the day we drove to Cape Trib and the Daintree, it would have been much more convenient for us to stay closer to Cairns. We did the Kuranda Skyrail and train, which we enjoyed, although the town itself was a little boring. It's a town, not the rainforest, so very different from Daintree in that respect That would have been better from Cairns.

Cairns really isn't a city by the world's definition. It didn't seem that much bigger than PD, other than the fact that there were more services.

Cairns does not have a beach, but they've built a nice lagoon pool on the waterfront that is open year round. We were there in early November, so swimming in PD was limited to the stinger enclosure, which I found to be too small for the number of people using it. And when tide was low, you couldn't even walk out far enough to get your bathing suit wet.

My biggest problem with PD was the fact that reef trips from PD cost about twice what they do from Cairns. I posted that here and got some protests that obviously it's more expensive from PD because the trips are of better quality. But when I was there, and from reading tourism info, I get the impression that prices are just higher in PD because they can get away with it and quality is not necessarily a factor. We ended up not being able to see the reef from this area because of the cost, and the fact that it's over an hour to drive to Cairns from PD. So if the reef is important, I wouldn't stay in Port Douglas.

If I were going back, I would stay in Palm Cove. Similar size as PD, but only 15 minutes from Cairns.

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
3,544 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

And until I went, I couldn't understand what was meant by "closer to the reef". PD is in a bay, so Cairns must be closer to the reef because it sticks out further into the ocean. But the places that they take you for snorkelling and diving are not directly east of Cairns, you have to go a little north. The places they take you from Port Douglas are not as far north. So the travel time is shorter.

But we can't be talking more than about 20 minutes, which I don't think justifies doubling the price.

Cairns, Australia
Level Contributor
2,838 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

With 7 days I would do a driving holiday. The best way to see Far North Qld imho. The more you do see the more you will want to come back for more.

Do a loop that takes in the tablelands, see the waterfalls. There are some right by the road and some that take some effort (but worth it).

The Great Barrier is a must but sometimes this means other natural wonders in the area are overlooked.

Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics. Some other parks are far more accessible than the Daintree so are so worth a look in. I see no difference in the experience except for the car ferry ride.

Cairns, Australia
Level Contributor
400 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

Agree with above post - a good website for experiencing FNQ is www.GreatTropicalDrive.com.au - although 12 days is suggested for the entire loop, that can easily be modified to suit.

8. Re: Cape Trib, Cairns or Whitsundays?

-:- 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: 25 August 2009, 09:16