When We Went/Weather
Cairns was our 1st stop on our short tour of Australia. We visited in mid October. We were scheduled to be there for 3.5 days but thanks to United cancelling our flight from SFO due to plane maintenance issues we lost a full day.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Australia has opposite seasons as the US and it was their fall in October. Cairns is much like South Florida in that it is warm pretty much year round so it was in the 80s during our visit. Pack shorts, tank tops, sundresses, etc. Some nights it got a little cool but cool as in low 70s.
How We Got There
Our flight from the US was on United to Sydney (I will never fly them again) but we flew Virgin Australia (VA) to get to Cairns. When we landed in Sydney after going through customs and collecting our luggage there is a domestic transfer ticket counter right there. We checked into our flight and they took our baggage there before we had to take a bus over to the domestic terminal. It is not in walking distance by any means.
We booked VA because their domestic flights include 1 checked bag. The flight was 3.5hrs (1hr time difference) and they serve a meal on the flight. They also offer free WiFi as long as you have their app so be sure to download it ahead of time. We had no issues and a very pleasant experience.
Where We Stayed
We chose to stay in Trinity Beach so that we would have the beach to hang out on our 1st day if we were too tired to do anything else. Because of our flight cancellation we didn't have a day to relax and enjoy the beach. Trinity Beach is about a 30min drive from the airport and Cairns CBD. It is smaller with not as many restaurants or shops. If you are looking for peace and quiet I would recommend here and if you do eat at the Blue Moon Grill, it was delicious. If I could rebook I would have stayed in Cairns CBD as there are so many more restaurants, shopping, bars and nightlife. You pay more for the transportation for tours staying in Trinity Beach as well since it is further out and since we didn't even get to enjoy the beach we could have saved some money there.
However the Airbnb we stayed in was great. It was right on the beach with beach views from the balcony. The grocery store, restaurants, bus stop and kids playground were all in walking distance. The area is quiet and relaxing. Our host Matthew provided laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, wash cloths, and beach towels, everything we needed for an enjoyable stay. The place hosts 6 adults comfortably with 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms. He even coordinated a crib for us for Kennedy.
What We Did
Day One: The Great Barrier Reef
We visited the Great Barrier Reef through Seastar Cruises. We did their full day tour which included snorkeling at two stops to the outer Great Barrier Reef at Michaelmas Cay and Hastings Reef. The cost was $185 AUD for adults and children under 4 are free so I didn't have to pay for Kennedy. If you want to do an introduction dive, which I did, it is an additional $75 AUD for the 1st one.
Lunch is provided but contrary to the website stating buffet, it is far from that. We were asked if we wanted 1 or 2 chicken wings, like only the drumstick part, not even the whole wing. That is not a buffet!! In their defense they did have deli meat for sandwiches but I don't eat beef or pork so it was no use to me. They also had quite a few vegetarian options including pasta salad and potato salad but I don't eat those either. Ok, maybe I am a picky eater but some of my non picky eater friends were also not satisfied with the amount or taste of the food. I'd bring your own lunch just in case you're as disappointed about the food as I was.
Tips: Wear water shoes! They make you take your shoes off while on the boat for safety reasons as they say your shoes have no grip and you can slip. However part of the floor on the boat is carpet and people walk on it with their wet feet and clothing. To me wet carpet is disgusting and unsanitary so wear your water shoes as they do allow you to wear those on board.
Day Two: Kuranda
We did the Rainforestation Tour of Kuranda through Skyrail Rainforest. We took the Railway up and the Skyrail down. Once you get up to Kuranda you have about an hour of free time until you start the Rainforestation tour. The first stop is at the Wildlife park where you can learn about Australian wildlife.
Afterwards in the Army Duck Tour where you learn about the trees and plants in the rain forest, surprisingly more interesting than I would have expected.
Next is the performance of the traditional dances by Pamagirri Indigenous people and the chance to learn about some of their traditions. We were able to learn that the "Aboriginal" people prefer the term Indigenous People which I did not know. We also learned that it wasn't until the early 2000s that the Indigenous people of Australia received an apology from the Australian government from the poor treatment they have been subjected to. I was very glad we were able to learn these things.
After the show they have a few they have various stations where they will teach you how to throw a boomerang.
You take the Skyrail down, the longest cableway in the world. If your terrified of heights like myself good luck! I was shooting myself in the foot the whole way as my friends laughed at me. I will admit the views were spectacular and they have 2 stops if you want to get off an explore the rain forest a bit.
Tips: Strollers are allowed on the train, cable car, and on the Rainsforestation tour and they have elevators throughout so it seemed convenient to use one.