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Help with fast trip to Cairns

Ruston, Louisiana
1 post
2 reviews
Help with fast trip to Cairns

My family of 7 adults will be traveling to Cairns in a couple of weeks. Flying into Cairns. Wish to tour the reef and rainforest, at minimum. Open to other suggestions. Do not plan on renting car. Advice on where to stay or exact tours to take would be greatly appreciated. 5 nights. Scrambling to book accommodations. Should we stick to Cairns or broaden our search to other areas, and if so, how does that impact transportation?

5 replies to this topic
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
223 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Help with fast trip to Cairns

The reason you might be struggling with accommodation availability is because in a couple of weeks it is the school holiday time in Australia.

A lot of people prefer staying in Cairns northern beaches (eg Trinity Beach) or in Port Douglas over Cairns itself as these places have a nicer atmosphere and swimmable beaches (Cairns doesn’t). However you would need to consider what tours you want to take as to whether they will offer pickup from these locations. Sorry I can’t help with specific tours as we found renting a car much more convenient and cost effective so the only organised tour we took was a snorkeling trip with Wavelength from Port Douglas to the reef which I would definitely recommend if you end up staying in Port Douglas.

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington
Level Contributor
15,048 posts
123 reviews
2. Re: Help with fast trip to Cairns

I recommend staying in Port Douglas over Cairns because of the nicer ambience. And without a car, I would recommend PD over any of the northern suburbs of Cairns (Palm Cove, etc.). Look for accommodations within walking distance of central Port Douglas (check a map). If you do that, you can walk to dining and shopping and won't have to rely on (or pay for) coach transfers for any tours that you take. To get to Port Douglas from the Cairns airport, you can arrange for a coach transfers--there are several companies that do this. You might check with your accommodations for a recommendation.

For your snorkeling trip, I highly recommend Wavelength provided everyone in your group can swim. They carry a maximum of 40 passengers and do snorkel-only trips to 3 locations on the Outer Reef. If you have non-swimmers in your group, look at Quicksilver as they offer ways to see the Reef without getting in the water. (I have been out with Wavelength many times and they are excellent!)

I have been to Daintree twice, but only on self-guided trips, so I can't vouch for any tour companies, but Tony's Tropical Tours gets high praise as does Daintree Discovery Tours.

Because of school holidays, you need to start booking everything now. All of your excursions will need to be pre-booked--you can't wait until you get to the region to do it.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
7,892 posts
30 reviews
3. Re: Help with fast trip to Cairns

Just checking - do you have your ETAs?

If not, apply here, now.https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETAS3/etas

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
12,121 posts
34 reviews
4. Re: Help with fast trip to Cairns

PD (beach, restaurants, small town, tours to reef and rainforest) over Cairns (no beach, big regional city).

School holidays 7 -22 July so busy busy up there (winter for us down in Sydney and Melbourne).

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
4,961 posts
207 reviews
5. Re: Help with fast trip to Cairns

As others have suggested, try Port Douglas, Trinity Beach, Palm Cove, there are airport transfers to all of these places. You may be stuck with what you get though as it is peak holiday season up there. Port Douglas, about an hour north of Cairns, would be my preference as well if you can get in anywhere.

All the best.

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