Part two of our three week Australia trip saw us take a flight from Sydney to Cairns, picking up a car and driving to Port Douglas.
We spent two nights in Port Douglas, mainly because we were booked in for a day trip with Daintree Discovery Tours so we could see Cape Tribulation. We didn’t do much else in Port Douglas and found it pretty quiet and chill. If you are wanting to visit a lot of places in three weeks like we were, I don’t think you need to spend any longer there.
Daintree Discovery Tours
This was one of my favourite days of the whole three weeks and I was exhausted when we got back to the hotel! Its $190 each and it’s 100% worth it. The day starts around the 7:30am mark and you get to experience Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, a Daintree River Cruise and Cassowary Falls. They also have their own private lunch spot where you can take a small walk through the rainforest and in between travels you stop at Daintree Ice Cream Company who have the most amazing flavours. You get to do it all in a day which some people aren’t a fan of, but if you are only on a short trip and not on your gap year finding yourself it’s an amazing way to tick lots of things off the list.
I think my favourite place was Cassowary Falls as it’s on private land and only Daintree Discovery Tours have access to it, so we knew there would be nobody there when we turned up. It was incredible to take a swim in there and we gave the GoPro it’s first proper use under water. Our guide was amazing, really knowledgable and we learnt so much about Cassowary’s, the rainforest and Australia in general.
In my opinion it’s a must do if you are in the Port Douglas area. I’m so happy we drove from Cairns, especially as there were so many lovely views on the way!
Port Douglas > Cairns
From Port Douglas we drove to back to Cairns to stay in an Airbnb for three nights. It was in the perfect location if you have a car and I’d highly recommend it if you are looking for somewhere to stay in the area, you can find it here.
Whilst in Cairns we did the Karuna Skyrail, took a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and drove out to the waterfall circuit. We also ate at some really nice places, I was so happy to find some places I really enjoyed as I’m so bloody fussy!
It was Nicks birthday whilst we were in Cairns and he had booked to do the Karuna Skyrail that day. It’s such a good experience and you get an amazing view of the rainforest. We decided to take the train up and get the Skyrail down, but you are best to book this in advance so you make sure you get the travel options you want. We also upgraded to VIP on both the train and skyrail and had mixed experiences. VIP on the train is well worth it, you get a comfy seat, food and drink (winner). I don’t think I’d bother with it on the sky rail if I’m honest. You get a glass bottomed cable car and fast tracked in the queue, but there are a few instances on the way down you have to change cars, and when you do so you can be put in with other people. It’s pretty crappy to spend the extra money and be put in with other people, especially as at the end they take a photo which you aren’t going to want with people you don’t know.
When you get up to the top there is a fair bit to do. You can see the Koalas, enter the bird and butterfly houses and wander around the market stalls. You do have to pay to go into all of the animal houses and then it’s extra for pictures with a koala so you’ll need some extra $$$ to take up there. We paid it, mainly so we could see the kangaroos and hold a koala. Would I pay to do it again, probably not but I suppose it’s one of those things you have to do once.
Great Barrier Reef
We couldn’t fly all the way out to Australia and not see the reef, so we booked a tour with Great Adventures. There were a few options on their tours but we opted to take the journey out to the reef, without stopping off at Green Island first. It took a couple of hours to get out to the reef via boat but it as definitely worth the journey.
They pull the boat up next to a platform and off we get. You spend a few hours on the platform with the opportunity to snorkel, which we did and really enjoyed. Everyone seemed to scramble for a seat at the tables on the bottom of the platform, but we went up to the top and it was practically empty. This worked really well as we had all of the sun loungers to ourself and I think it was the first time on the trip so far we chilled out for a bit.
They also have an underwater observatory which is pretty cool, unfortunately for us there had been storms and the water wasn’t too clear so we didn’t see much of the reef this way. Snorkelling was definitely the way to go to see the reef. They also had a submarine style boat and there was the opportunity to take trip on that. It had glass around the bottom so you could go out and see the reef. Again the weather meant visibility wasn’t great but the guide explained the different parts of the reef which was pretty interesting.
The food on there was pretty good so we seemed to spend the rest of the time eating and chilling out enjoying the sunshine. We really enjoyed the day and would probably do it again if we were ever out in Australia again.
We were unlucky with the weather on our last full day in Cairns, and as we didn’t have much planned we decided to take a drive to a waterfall circuit. I was the clever person who decided to wear flip flops for walking through rainforest to get to these waterfalls, so I’d advise trainers, especially if it’s raining…
They are really beautiful waterfalls and we just enjoyed driving around and stopping at different places we saw on the way. The beauty if driving in Australia is that you come across some of the most amazing views, and a lot of the time they have designated stopping places at the side of the road.
As we didn’t have much planned that day Nick found a place that did incredible milkshakes that was only a short detour from the waterfalls. It was called Petals and Pinecones and it was the loveliest place. The staff were really friendly, the building and interior itself was really cool and the milkshakes… oh my god. I went for the Unicorn and I was gutted we’d already eaten as I’d definitely have made my way through the food and cake menu!
Where to eat
On our first night in Cairns, I had booked somewhere to dinner before leaving for Australia. As it was Nicks birthday I wanted to make sure we had somewhere nice booked in. I opted for Waterhouse Bar and Grill which I’d recommend 100%. The food and atmosphere was really lovely and it wasn’t too expensive either.
We had burgers at Jimmy Burgers which was pretty decent considering the price. We love burger places as they are really laid back and you don’t have to spend all evening in there. I opted for the chicken burger which was nice and it wasn’t busy at all, so a good place for a quick meal.
I’d say our best food choices were for breakfast whilst in Cairns. I found a place on Trip Advisor called Waffle On which was amazing. I’m not the biggest waffle lover but these were incredible and the toppings were just SO GOOD. Wasn’t exactly the most healthy breakfast as I went for the smores ones, but we were full for hours afterwards.
We also tried Jafflehead which I’d recommend if you are into toasties. I had one with spaghetti in and it was a delight. Their milkshakes are particularly good too and again it was pretty inexpensive, our favourite kind of meal.
Overall, we really enjoyed Cairns but were more than ready to explore somewhere else and take the drive down to Mission Beach.