Cairns: Great Barrier Reef, Rainforest and Highlands Does anyone give more?
Cairns is the ideal enclave to explore the northeast of Australia since it is surrounded to the east by the Great Barrier Reef, the city is the port of departure for most of the excursions that lead to know this wonder; to the north by the Daintree Rainforest , a spectacular tropical forest where cassowaries can be found in their natural habitat, and to the west by the Atherton Tablelands , where you can visit waterfalls and volcanic rivers.
We already said it in our post SNORKELING IN THE GREAT CORAL BARRIER , if there is a place in Australia that you cannot miss it is the Great Barrier Reef and for us there is no better place to visit it than the north coast of Queensland, where the quantity The coral reef and the quality of them is fascinating, and that was why we chose to travel to Cairns in April 2014.
Our visit to Cairns was the first leg of a trip to Australia with Shine's parents, who had come to visit us from the United States. We had planned to spend four days in Cairns to see the city and use it as a base for our excursions to the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and the Tablelands.
The weather did not accompany us on our trip, however, we were lucky enough to have the help of Virginia Barres, a wonderful Spanish tourist guide who works in Cairns and helped us to overcome the consequences of Cyclone Ita , one of the strongest cyclones that It has impacted the Queensland coast in recent years, already making the most of our days, although in the end we had to leave Cairns a day earlier than planned to avoid being trapped in the city by the cyclone.
We arrived in Cairns at noon, and after reorganizing our excursions with Virginia because of the storm, we decided to go out to see the city. We were walking along the promenade and the brown color of the water caught our attention, we had been planning the trip for months and we had investigated online and in all the photos the water was turquoise blue.
Cairns is located south of the mouth of the Barron River, apparently the lack of waves means that the silt does not disperse and mix with the deeper water, so when there is wind from the sea the sand sediment rises and the water it looks brown. There is so much silt on the shoreline that even when the wind stops the water looks brown, just a few days a year the water is blue off the Cairns coast.
Cairns is a very touristy city, and serves as a base for most of its visitors for excursions to the Great Barrier Reef, it is full of fast food restaurants, cafes and pubs. The truth is that apart from the Esplanade Swimming Lagoon , an artificial pool on the city's waterfront, and the Zoo, the city itself doesn't have much more to offer.
Excursion to the Great Barrier Reef
We had decided to do the excursion to the Great Barrier Reef as soon as possible, Cyclone Ita was approaching the coast and we could not risk the boats suspending their departures because of the storm. The afternoon before we had already chosen the boat with which we wanted to make the cruise, the Silversift , and at 8 in the morning we were not already ready at the port with our seasickness pills, ready to set sail.
The excursion began at 8.30 am with a two-hour journey to the coral reef. Our boat offered the possibility of diving or snorkeling in three different places, we decided to snorkel because not all of us had the diving course, and it was a success, it is cheaper than diving and the marine show is just as fascinating (We could see divers seven or eight meters below us).
It is difficult to describe everything we saw: thousands of brightly colored corals and unique shapes, millions of fish, sea turtles, coral sharks ... a unique and repeatable experience, because we will return for sure as soon as we have the opportunity.
After the adrenaline rush that had allowed us to dive in the coral reef and the wonder of nature that we had seen, the truth is that the visit to the zoo did not make us too excited, but Shine's parents did not want to miss the possibility of see Australian animals so there we went.
Virginia accompanied us throughout the day, and as we had already told her that we did not like the zoo too much, she took us there first thing in the morning, there were still almost no tourists and the keepers were waking up and feeding the animals. It turned out to be quite an interesting experience, and we had the chance to feed the kangaroos breakfast, catch a koala and watch a saltwater crocodile devour their food. Yes, a total tourist, So what? We loved it
From that moment on, the whole day was an adventure: The forecast for cyclone Ita was getting worse and worse, the radio news announced that the cyclone would make landfall closer to Cairns than they had anticipated and they had raised it to force four, but Virginia was totally determined to seize the day and visit the rain forest, so we set off.
Our first stop was the popular Palm Cove beach, where we took the opportunity to have a coffee, and then we went up to the Flagstaff Hill viewpoint in Port Douglas which has fabulous views of Four Miles Beach , voted one of the best beaches in Australia.
Daintree River Cruise
We continue our route and reach the Daintree River, where we take a cruise to see the crocodiles in their natural habitat. We had the whole boat to ourselves, and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride and all the crocodile stories the driver told us.
Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation
We continue the day by car entering the Daintree Rainforest, we only stop on our way to Cape Tribulation to take photos of a somewhat clueless cassowary who crossed the road right in front of our car.
Cape Tribulation is Daintree's most famous beach, a wild paradise in the middle of the rainforest. As Virginia told us, it was the first time she had seen this empty beach, because as a precaution some tour operators had suspended their excursions that day, so we had the great luck to enjoy this paradise exclusively.
We had to make the return at full speed to reach the ferry that crosses the Daintree river before the trips were suspended as a result of the storm, on the way we did not cross a soul and the radio was quite alarmist with the forecasts of the cyclone beginning to advise citizens how to prepare to protect themselves from the cyclone, an experience for four people from Almeria.
Damn Cyclone Ita
As soon as we arrived at the hotel and saw the display that had been set up at the reception to inform every hour of the moment when the cyclone would land and the force with which it would do so, we made the decision to say goodbye to Virginia, to advance the flight And leaving that same night, we still had three days to travel through Uluru and staying in Cairns meant risking the airport closing and losing the rest of our trip.
As a result of the cyclone, we could not enjoy the Daintree rainforest as we would have liked and we missed our visit to the tablelands , but we have to admit that it was quite an adventure, the trips are to live all kinds of experiences, to bad weather, good face!
To Virginia, for being a fantastic guide and making our visit to Cairns unforgettable despite the bad weather, thank you so much for your hospitality and wonderful organization.
To Rafael Jiménez, also known as Indi, for giving us all the photos in this post.