After our visit to Sydney, Haley and I were already struggling to wrap our minds around the concept that May is considered to be a ‘bad weather’ month in Australia. We had barely needed cardigans. Admittedly, the Blue Mountains were brisk in the morning, but who doesn’t expect that from a high elevation? Imagine our complete disbelief when we landed in Cairns to a warm breeze and high 80’s! Bad weather? I think not.
South Queensland’s mountainous terrain is super reminiscent of St. Lucia or Hawaii. Every view, from every direction, is stunning. Port Douglas, the town we stayed in, is a central hub within the Daintree region. Known for its sugar cane, access to the Great Barrier Reef, crocs and the oldest, continuous rainforest, Port Douglas is super ideal for quiet adventurers and photography fiends. In my opinion, Cairns is a city best to be avoided, especially if one can find room and board in Port Douglas. Cairns is super touristy, and its natural resources are fairly overrun. Think, hundreds of scuba divers kicking at coral and destroying the GBR. Natives refer to Cairns as the amusement park equivalent of Port Douglas.
Our three days in Port Douglas were jam packed with activities, and we feel comfortable with the length of time we spent there. No more, unless one’s looking for some serious downtime, and no less.
Macrossan Street: The main shopping district, just off the Esplanade, Macrossan Street was a fun, easy way to spend our first afternoon. Walk along Four Mile Beach to get there, or take one of the town shuttles in from your lodgings ($5 p/person). With local shops lining both sides of the street, you’ll be sure to find some great, new trinkets. As always, I appreciated the straight forwardness of some of these shops: Just Jeans. Fun Stuff by Linda. Only Gelato.
St. Mary’s by the Sea: A tiny, white Chapel, St. Mary’s by the Sea is an enchantingly quaint structure alongside Macrossan Street (and the sea). Buzzing with weddings during the afternoon, head over in the morning for some quiet, non-denominational contemplation.
Silversonic Scuba Diving: Haley and I loved our day out on the water with Silversonic Scuba Diving. Given that we are both uncertified, we opted for the two introductory dives. For reasons unbeknownst to me, that I’m choosing not to question, the only difference between certified and uncertified dives is…? Nonetheless, our instructor Chris was both a Dutch Dreamboat, and a super informative teacher. While I was certainly concerned about sharks and other dangerous marine life, Chris assuaged all my fears. Once you’re underwater, witnessing marine life is magnificent. Their rituals, habits and duties are both so similar and so different from humans’. A word of warning: Do take seasickness medication. If you don’t, unless you have a stomach of steel, you’re going to vom. Hard.
Daintree Discovery Tours: Another full-day tour, Daintree Discovery is the best way to get the broadest perspective on the massive Daintree Rainforest. Visiting Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation and a secluded waterfall, as well as taking a Crocodile Cruise, Daintree Discovery is led by a knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff of wildlife and nature lovers. Jeff, our guide, repeatedly reminded us to, “Keep your head up! You never know what you’ll see in the trees.” (Tree kangaroos, birds, snakes, etc.) My favorite part? The Crocodile Cruise. Our captain, Lex, had the thickest Queensland accent, and absolutely no fear of anything. His grandchildren were also there, and proved their equally fearless wills. “My Granddad is the boss of this boat, eh?”
La Soirée: Okay, it’s hard to admit, but I haven’t fully adjusted to the time change yet. I am early to bed, early to rise, in general, and Australia has been no exception. So, a 9:30PM Burlesque-Variety Show was the only thing that could have kept me awake. Originated in London’s West End, La Soirée is a raunchy, hysterical show that had Haley and me crying with laughter. It is definitely not PG. Maybe not even PG-13, but you must go! If not in Port Douglas, wherever they tour next. It’s an experience.
Four Mile Beach: A four-mile stretch of gorgeous, golden sand, Four Mile Beach is a beach runner’s paradise. Just the right toughness and sink! While the water is supposedly teaming with crocs and jellies, sun yourself, walk, run, whatever. Because the Sheraton Mirage is the only resort hitched up to the beach, I’d definitely recommend looking into a room there. However, it is a public beach.
Moondance: A funky shop owned by an equally funky woman, Moondance is a great spot to pick up a colorful, patterned sarong.
Siam by the Sea: I love Thai food. Siam by the Sea, also located on Macrossan, is a quick, relatively inexpensive destination for hungry curry lovers.