Some trips we remember for the happy experience we have and the others for the learning we get. This was one of those in the latter category. Had never been on any long hrs cruise before and with no idea about our tolerance levels, this was our venture directly into the pacific sea for the snorkeling and scuba as first timers. Great!
To add, the weather was cloudy and the sea was rough. When they asked,’Who all have sea sickness?’
Shyly, we raised our hands. Our son didn’t because he wasn’t even aware if he could be sea sick. They gave some medicines to avoid sea sickness. We took our share and gave half to our son.
Hopeful that we have the armor against the sea, all three of us went to the top deck. My husband was already tensed because he didn’t want to do any snorkeling or scuba so he began with his list of excuses and disclaimers.
Our adventure didn’t start on a good note. It was windy and choppy with a bit of a swell out in the middle of the ocean. Hardly 15 min and our son started with his outpourings. This is my son’s talent. Not to give a clue or any warning before he starts spoiling places be it a car, an airplane or a cruise ship. By the time we cleaned him and the seat, both of us started feeling uncomfortable. It felt like the Australian pill wasn’t meant for Indian guts.
They asked us to go to the backside of the ship. Oh ! this was the designated area for the seasick and here we found many like us. This was supposedly an 8 hrs plus trip with breaks at diving sites. If there had been no sea sickness bags, I can assure that we would have covered the great barrier reef with our puke itself. Quite a few of us puking with all our might.
Luckily our son got well just after one session but I did make sure to break all records till the end. Of course, despite all this I went for snorkeling at every site whenever the ship stopped & I felt little calm. This was to give company to my son. Here are some pics of the misadventure. Husband as usual was missing from the scene at every snorkeling/scuba diving site.
May is not a great time to be here. It is also the onset of winters in Australia so you can’t expect a calm sea or warm waters. In the whole trip I was upset thinking,’ Oh shit so many wonderful experiences now automatically get ticked off my bucket list due to being unfit’.
Anyway we somehow finished the 8.5 hrs plus tribulation without drinking or eating anything. Was wondering at those who could drink and eat comfortably. After my safe landing I concluded given what my travel obsessed mind said – Probably something was wrong with the medicines we were given, possibly due to the shortage of food and drinks 😉
I really needed to console myself this way as from Cairns I was to go to Whitsundays in great barrier reef via Airlie beach and there was no other way to Whitsundays but to go by cruise from Airlie beach. Our bodies were not supposed to ditch us at this point.
Evening came with a sigh of relief as we reached Esplanade, the central recreational area in Cairns. It has a beautiful lagoon & the surrounding is full of restaurants from budget to luxury. Can’t forget the crepes we had here after the terrible day gone by. We hogged like deprived Indians as usual that evening.
By the way our Whitsundays trip was great and we were so comfortable. We could eat and drink too. Just that this time we took the medicine much before boarding the boat-cruise. We learnt that it takes atleast 30min-1 hrs for the medicine to work effectively. So, please don’t go by our puking experience above. People have lovely time and experience in great barrier reef cruise.
6 best things to do in and around Cairns
Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns
Great barrier reef in the Pacific Ocean on the north east coast of Australia off the coast of Queensland is the largest Coral reef system comprising of 3000 individual reef systems, 760 fringe reefs, 600 tropical islands and about 300 coral cays stretching for over 2,300 kms. One of the world’s seven natural wonders, its a place where beauty transcends business, where nature reigns supreme. Great barrier reef include the Whitsunday Islands, Lizard Island and Heron Island & more. You can swim, snorkel, dive and sail here. You can choose to stay in Cairns, Port Douglas or Whitsundays (Airlie beach or Hamilton Island) for your reef experience. Cairns being the most accessible by flights.
Most popular ways to experience this are the following
- Great barrier reef pontoons– These are like floating playgrounds in the middle of the reef. They are the best Great Barrier Reef tour option for non-swimmers, great for families and great for those that wish to see and experience the Great Barrier Reef in every way possible. There are full-day excursions that bring guests out, via catamaran, to permanently anchored reef pontoons that act as manmade adventure islands. You get these options from Cairns, Port Douglas, Airlie etc. Pontoon gives you additional options like seeing the coral system through a Semi-Submersible Glass-Bottom Boat. You can even go for a helmet ride or a scuba doo ride, basically the under sea walk.
- Survey from Above on a Helicopter or Sea Plane – From Cairns and Port Douglas one can opt in for 30-minute scenic reef flights or hour-long tours of both the reef and the rain forest. Most of the pontoon reef operators also offer discounted fly-and-cruise packages. Ideally both cruise/pontoon with flight experience would be the best thing to do if budget permits.
Daintree Rainforest from Cairns – Cape Tribulation, Mossman Gorge, and Daintree Rainforest tours
Inspiration behind the movie Avatar, Daintree is one of the three oldest rainforests in the world and is incredibly beautiful. Lush green everywhere with ancient ferns and emerald green vines. Here, you can trek through jungle, fly through the trees on a zip-line for a bird’s-eye view, cruise along the winding waterways of the Daintree River for some croc spotting and head to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. Pristine rivers, fragrant native forest groves, stunning wildlife and ancient Aboriginal heritage hiddenYou will find rare plants and birds found no where else and of course it a paradise for bird watchers.
Daintree is a two hrs drive north of Cairns and about an hour north of Port Douglas. The 95 km (60 mile) Daintree region starts at Mossman Gorge, an hour’s drive north of Cairns, continues past Daintree Village, across the Daintree River, through the rainforest of Daintree National Park to Cape Tribulation.
Getting here – The best option would be to hire a car and self drive to leisurely explore the area. You have many accomodation options too here. For some self drive itineraries check here – However if you are short of time and not sure of driving yourself then you may opt for coach tours. It’s a full day tour to Daintree National Park including Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation, from Cairns.
Popular beach destination 70 kms north of Cairns. It is the only place on Earth where two World Heritage-listed sites – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest – meet. Many people prefer to stay in Port Douglas instead of Cairns for the same reason. It has blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, the breathtaking canopy of the Daintree Rainforest, the crystal creeks of Mossman Gorge, and the palm fringed golden sands of Four Mile Beach.
Apart from the above Daintree rainforest and great barrier reef tours, one can do coral cay of the Low Isles, located 15 kilometres (8 miles) off Port Douglas.
Kuranda Scenic Railway Day Trip from Cairns including Skyrail
This too can be done from Cairns or Port Douglas depending on your base. You can buy the tour tickets online or from any agent/hotel once you reach Cairns/Port Douglas. We had pre-booked most tours to avoid any disappointment later.
Tour involves pick and drop. You will be picked up from Cairns or Port Douglas and dropped at the station to hop on Kuranda scenic train for a 1.5 hrs ride around mountainous curves with a brief stop at beautiful Barron Gorge. Once you reach Kuranda village, you will find many options to shop and eat. You will also find Birdworld and the Kuranda Koala Gardens here which have to be paid for there separately. Kuranda village is quite a touristy place but nicely done in terms of options for a family outing with children. We felt the time was less as the return was in the late afternoon and we had hardly seen everything.
The return you will glide above the lush canopy on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Once you reach Kuranda by train, they would inform you of the return timing and show the cable skyrail station in Kuranda. The below picture is just before the end of the ride. You will be much above this level and when the weather is bad, it does seem little scary at that height with thick forests below.
Skyrail rainforest cableway experience from Cairns on a 6-passenger gondola to get a unique perspective of the forest and views that stretch far out into the Coral Sea.
Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns
This is also one way to experience great barrier reef. Located only 30 km from Cairns, Fitzroy Island lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Its protected coral reef offers excellent snorkeling from the beach and is home to colorful hard and soft corals, tropical fish, sea turtles and other marine life. You can buy the tour tickets from the reef fleet terminal in Cairns for the morning departure of the Fitzroy Island high-speed ferry crossing, which generally takes around 45 minutes.
Last but not the least spend your evenings at Esplanade in Cairns.
Located on the foreshore of the Trinity Harbour front, Esplanade swimming lagoon is a lovely place to spend the evening after your Reef trips. Surrounded by plenty of restaurnts, bars and eating joints, it also has 12 BBQ facilities that are cleaned daily and are available for use throughout the day.
Loved the evening walk here after the swim.
Cairns city on the east coast of Far North Queensland is your gateway to two of the world’s greatest natural attractions- Great barrier reef and Australian Rain forests. The city is the 5th-most-populous in Queensland and ranks 14th overall in Australia.
A range of domestic and international flights arrive at Cairns Airport, a 10 to 15-minute drive from the city centre.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world measuring 2300 km in length and 72 km across at its widest point making it the world’s largest World Heritage Areas. There are an estimated 1,500 species of fish, over 300 species of hard, reef-building corals, more than 4,000 mollusk species and over 400 species of sponges have been identified.
On the other hand Australia’s tropical rainforests and associated vegetation runs up the north-east coast of Queensland from Townsville to Cooktown. The World Heritage property covers an area of approximately 894,000 hectares. The region of full of spectacular scenery and regged topography with fast flowing rivers, deep gorges and numerous waterfalls.
Where to stay in Cairns
Stay around Esplanade as its the center of all activity, lively street cafes, fine dining restaurants, the casino and the Esplanade swimming lagoon. You will find plenty of eating and drinking joints with variety of cuisines. The cruises for great barrier reef also leave from here, the harbour is walk able.
Where to eat in Cairns
For Cheap eats and casual street food dining experience check out Cairns night market at Abott Street entrance. From burgers to South east asian cuisine to ice creams to crepes, your street food options are plenty. Its also an ideal place to pick up Australian souvenirs or enjoy variety of massages after a tiring day.
For Indian restaurants – Check here . We had tried Indian brothers restaurant here and it was fine.
For local’s favorite check here
That’s all is the writing part . Now if you want to experience Australia for real and would like to someone to do the hassle free planning, you may get in touch with us. Happy traveling in 2021 hopefully!