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Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

california
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Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

Hello,

My husband and I will be flying into Cairns on Aug.28, arriving at 14:55. I'm struggling and need help from you wonderful people on how to plan our itinerary, so we can cover/see as much as we can efficiently time wise.

The things we'd like to do in Cairns: Kuranda Rail/Sky Cable; visit Rusty market & night market, Atherton Tableland & Patronella Park; Day trip to Lizard Island (costs $590 per person, it's expensive but is it worth it or any suggestion in place of it?

In Port Douglas: Do GBR, debating whether to go with Quicksilver or Wavelenght for Snorkelers only. My husband and I are in our 60's and 1st time snorkelers; can swim but not really very good swimmer and not in great physical condition, just OK. We also would like to see Cape Tribulation/Daintree Forest.

Not sure how to divide our nights between cairns and PD. We do not want to waste time travelling back and forth between Cairn/PD. Our flight from Cairns to Sydney is at 1:30pm. We are not planning on renting a car as my husband feels weird driving on the left,plus don't want to waste time figuring out how to get to our desired "want to see places".

Please recommend good/reasonable place to stay that is close (walking distance) to restaurant/shops and major attractions. Our budget is $100 to $150 per night. We really do not want to spend much on accomodations as we would be out sightseeing during the day..

We are open to any comments/suggestions or changing our plans; and would greatly appreciate your input. This is our 1st time to Australia and would like tothe most of it!

THANKS IN ADVANCE!

Townsville...
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1. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

This site is full of info to answer most of your questions. But I can assure you that the drive between PD and Cairns is not a waste of time. In fact, it is one of the best coastal drives on the planet. On a clear, sunny day it is stunning. If it were me I'd pick either Cairns or PD to stay and drive wherever you need to go as most things are within an hour on the road. I prefer PD as it is more of a relaxing holiday but there are lots of opinions on this one. Car rental will save you a heap of time and get you where you want to go. Driving "on the wrong side of the road" is par for the course for us Aussies who travel to the US or Europe - get your husband to think out side of the square - tell him it's easy!

Cairns, Australia
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2. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

Hi Young at Heart.

It is doable but a lot packed into the time you have. If well planned can be an awesome trip. When you select a tour a great option could be to use the tour as a transfer to Port Douglas. I am not sure how luggage will figure into this plan! So for example a Daintree trip start from Cairns and ask they drop you at Port Douglas on the way back. Would save a ton of time and transfer cost. Where do the bags go though? Can only ask.

Also another consideration, if you are adventure people (with comfort of course) maybe consider a Cooktown overnight trip. I saw one that gives 1/2 day free time. This free time could be used for Lizard Island trip from Cooktown which I believe is cheaper..though please do not quote me! This trip would include the Daintree, 4wd, and also the start of the outback (gulf savannah) complete with termite mounds. So a very diverse look into this amazing region.

In Cairns the downtown area is great for younger people. When it come to us oldies it is good if we wish to visit the casino or some selected restaurants and stay in the wharf area. However the best location for these nocturnal activities may exceed your budget in August as festival time and peak time for tourism. On your budget the room may require a walk through the nightclub areas and scary encounters with drunk backpackers lol. You could try and wait to see if wotif has a special closer to the time, the Sebel Harbour Lights is possible best for bargains in desired area.

You could also consider a bed and breakfast stay in a traditional queensland house in the leafy suburb of Edge Hill. This is the lifestyle that draws people to live in the tropics so can be a good experience. However will require a taxi from town but should only be $15 so can still be cheaper than staying walking distance to restaurant and nightmarkets and paying more for a room. Tours normally pick up from accommodation so should not impact choice on where to stay.

Or you could stay beachside ..Trinity Beach, Clifton or Palm Cove.

Was looking at Agincort Apartments at Clifton beach and seemed very popular and great value. They have evening transfers to restaurants free of charge. The loss staying at these locations would be rusty market and night markets. Neither great losses in my opinion though good to stock up on fruit. ! You could get an early transfer to Rusty though before the Kuranda train, same neighbourhood.

Reef trip, Wavelength great for you as they will look after you. Otherwise the Seastar the other DE for Cairns named galah recommends (ex Cairns). Smaller passenger numbers on both these reef trips is good for those with some nerves. Though you do not need to be a great swimmer if reasonable weather. Like a swimming pool.

So would be 3 nights Cairns, one night Cooktown and 2 night Port. From Cairns Skyrail and Paronella Park Trips. If it appeals. Of course !

Ok so read up on some options.

Off to wilderness

adventurenorthaustralia.com/page/…sally

Cooktown seaplanes to Lizard island

www.cook.qld.gov.au/visitors/planesailing.pdf

Cairns festival timetable (not the best events during your stay, but may appeal)

festivalcairns.com.au/uploads/Event%20Planne…

Bed and Breakfast, close to the gorgeous botanic gardens and Tank Arts

tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g1178650-Edge_Hill_Ca…

If staying downtown a good option (budget) could be central plaza apartments. Directly across from Central shopping mall and Kuranda train and close to Rusty market. Not so close (but walkable) to pier. Not a glamour spot but convenient .

http://www.cairnscentralplaza.com.au/

Budget beachfront, will require pick up for tours and many restaurants (free transfer for some restauant). No walking to mcuh of anything, nice spot though. http://www.agincourt.com.au/

I do not agree with prevous poster to backtrack for Paronella Park, Skyrail and possibly Lizard Island flight adds extra expense and time. Nice drive but no reason to do it as a daily commute.

Edited: 12 April 2010, 07:00
bristol uk
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3. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

I am responding to you from Port Douglas and I can tell you that this area is magical. We have just returned from 2 nights at Cape Tribulation, stayed at the Daintree Rainforest Retreat Motel - wonderful - and did the reef with Ocean Safari could reccommend them enough. It's only 25 minutes out to the reef and then 2 x 1 hour snorkelling stops, there is a guide in the water at all times and we 14 were the only people there - one of the best experiences of our travvelling lives. Driving on the wrong side is truly not an issues and gives you so much freedom. Here we are staying at the by the Sea apartments, again really great, 10 minutes walk to the main area and only 30 seconds to the beach! Upon my return to the UK I will do proper reviews but I wanted to give you a flavour of our "now". Happy planning.

Cairns, Australia
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4. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

fjab

yes I think it great to combo a trip in wilderness area with safe place like Port. It just adds to the excellent adventure vibe. Great to hear you have so much fun Fjab. keep it up !

Bentley
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5. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

Fjab - we are staying at the Daintree Rainforest Retreat motel so will look forward to what you have to say about it. Also, what did you do at Cape Trib? The snorkelling trip - did you have to climb up and down a ladder to get into the water.

bristol uk
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6. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

The Ocean Safari had about three fixed steps , which you could just plunge off into the water, even from the top you could slide into the water, others were just flipping over the side of the boat at the reef locations, plus an additional 3 steps unit that seemed to be tied onto the permenant steps. The 2 staff we had with us, Trav and Sam, were ready to help anyone who needed it. All in al very easy. At the Cape we did 2 of the walks - one begining with J and the other with an M - saw a cassorwarie at the second place, Eric also came and called us when the cassowary that frequents the motel came through. The kids,teenagers, did the jungle surfing which they thought was great. Tried to use the swimming hole at Masons store but you need to be a mountain goat to access it! Also had ice-cream at the Daintree Ice-cream place. I will be back in the UK on the 19th so I can post more info then.

Bentley
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7. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

Thanks, much appreciated. My issue with steps is having to hang about in the water waiting for people to get on/off and on some boats the rungs on the ladder are really far apart and I've needed a shove from below or a haul from above - not very flattering.

Yateley, United...
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8. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

I spent 5 nights in Port Douglas and stayed at The Port Douglas Retreat, it was well located and well priced. When we landed at Cairns (early morning), we drove into the city and had lunch there and then headed up to PD.

We had a hire car and took a day trip ourselves to Mossman Gorge & Cape Tribulation, its definately worth doing on your own if you have a car and you can easily do both in one day.

We spent a day on the Quicksilver Boat Trip www.quicksilver-cruises.com/wavepiercer.htm it was amazing, the staff are fantastic and extremely helpful for any concerns you have over equipment/sea etc - there was a large range of ages on our trip too, children and maturer adults. We splurged and also did the scenic helicopter flight (10 mins) which was completely breathtaking. I really would highly recommend Quicksilver.

Personally for what me and my fiance required we did find Port Douglas a little "lacking" and over-priced, and on reflection we would have been happier spending half the nights in PD and half in Cairns.

Hope that helps somewhat.

Cheltenham, Vic...
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9. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

Hi Young at Heart. Wonderful trip. I recommend the first 4 nights at Port Douglas - we have just re-booked Club Tropical Resort (5th time there) in the main street (mid august), and if you like the look of it, ask for a studio that isn't on the street. They have just renovated a lot of the studio's. Beautiful pool & spa. Our quote was $150pn and the perfect location to stay. It has a kitchenette on the terrace balcony with table and chairs. Beautiful restaurants surround you and Supermarket 2 minute walk. Beach at other end of street - 5 min walk. Book direct on their website as they will do it cheaper for you. After hiring cars most other times, I have just booked online airport transfer with Krystal (www.krystaltransport.com.au) - $58.00 return pp. Reason being - Car hire at minimum $50 a day plus all the insurance costs will work out at $600 for the 6 days. After 5 days at PD, the bus transfer will take us to our Cairns Hotel (Reef Casino). When departing, we will catch a cab to airport - 10 minute cab ride from Cairns. Better to be closer to Cairns on the day you are leaving. There is also Sunpalm transfers from Cairns to PD - but $70 return. Cars are available for hire in Port Douglas if you want to drive to Mossman Gorge or plenty of tours available - book when you get to PD. Easy driving around Port Douglas - but the winding beach road from airport to PD - the last few times - it has been like you are driving in a rally with locals getting very close and impatient behind you and there's limited places for them to pass you. It will fray your nerves and better to relax in the minibus and take in the wonderful spectacular scenery. The bus will stop at Rex Lookout so you can take pictures. I didn't enjoy Quicksilver trip. I did enjoy Arisocat snorkling- but the stops are deep water for the benefit of the divers. Wavelength (or something like that) sounds best - small group of 35 and snorkle in lovely shallow area's. In Cairns - the Kuranda steam train trip is lovely and is good to combine with the cable ride. Even better if it is a day when the Kuranda market is on, but you haven't the luxury of time. Cairns is a big backpacker place with no real beach, so spend most time at Port Douglas. A lot of the market goods are tie dyed shirts and hippy clothes, paintings of hibiscus, handmade ceramics, jewellery and generally hand made aussie goods. All markets seem to have the same stuff! BEST BET - ensure you are in Port Douglas for Sunday 29th August for the wonderful Sunday Port Douglas market on the waterfront - directly opposite Club Tropical Resort, runs from 8am to 2.30pm. It is only on each Sunday. A must do. Now I'm certain you should go to PD first! I hope you find this helpful. Regards, Amanda

Cheltenham, Vic...
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10. Re: Spending 6 nights in Cairns/Port Douglas, please help...

Hi Young at Heart. Wonderful trip. I recommend the first 4 nights at Port Douglas - we have just re-booked Club Tropical Resort (5th time there) in the main street (mid august), and if you like the look of it, ask for a studio that isn't on the street. They have just renovated a lot of the studio's. Beautiful pool & spa. Our quote was $150pn and the perfect location to stay. It has a kitchenette on the terrace balcony with table and chairs. Beautiful restaurants surround you and Supermarket 2 minute walk. Beach at other end of street - 5 min walk. Book direct on their website as they will do it cheaper for you. After hiring cars most other times, I have just booked online airport transfer with Krystal (www.krystaltransport.com.au) - $58.00 return pp. Reason being - Car hire at minimum $50 a day plus all the insurance costs will work out at $600 for the 6 days. After 5 days at PD, the bus transfer will take us to our Cairns Hotel (Reef Casino). When departing, we will catch a cab to airport - 10 minute cab ride from Cairns. Better to be closer to Cairns on the day you are leaving. There is also Sunpalm transfers from Cairns to PD - but $70 return. Cars are available for hire in Port Douglas if you want to drive to Mossman Gorge or plenty of tours available - book when you get to PD. Easy driving around Port Douglas - but the winding beach road from airport to PD - the last few times - it has been like you are driving in a rally with locals getting very close and impatient behind you and there's limited places for them to pass you. It will fray your nerves and better to relax in the minibus and take in the wonderful spectacular scenery. The bus will stop at Rex Lookout so you can take pictures. I didn't enjoy Quicksilver trip. I did enjoy Arisocat snorkling- but the stops are deep water for the benefit of the divers. Wavelength (or something like that) sounds best - small group of 35 and snorkle in lovely shallow area's. In Cairns - the Kuranda steam train trip is lovely and is good to combine with the cable ride. Even better if it is a day when the Kuranda market is on, but you haven't the luxury of time. Cairns is a big backpacker place with no real beach, so spend most time at Port Douglas. A lot of the market goods are tie dyed shirts and hippy clothes, paintings of hibiscus, handmade ceramics, jewellery and generally hand made aussie goods. All markets seem to have the same stuff! BEST BET - ensure you are in Port Douglas for Sunday 29th August for the wonderful Sunday Port Douglas market on the waterfront - directly opposite Club Tropical Resort, runs from 8am to 2.30pm. It is only on each Sunday. A must do. Now I'm certain you should go to PD first! I hope you find this helpful. Regards, Amanda

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