Great Barrier Reef
Cairns Lagoon and Pier
Waterfall at Daintree National Park
- If you’re looking for bright sunshine, stunning tropical reefs and rainforests, and plenty of activities including horseback riding, white-water rafting, scuba diving, and more, then welcome to Tropical North Queensland! With 300 days of sunshine, Tropical North Queensland is the perfect place for the more active visitor who’s looking for more than just a lazy day at the beach. For the ultimate scuba diving experience, nothing beats the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches over 2,300 kilometers and is home to more than 1,500 different species of fish. Whatever you’re looking to do in the warm Australian sun, Tropical North Queensland has got you covered!
- Situated right in between the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park, Port Douglas still retains its ambiance as a quiet fishing village from the 1960’s. Despite it’s quiet façade, Port Douglas has plenty to offer visitors, even those looking for more than just relaxation. Every Wednesday, the Port Douglas Yacht Club offers a free sunset sailing experience with one of its members, with a dinner and drinks at the club afterward (purchase required). If you’re looking to spot a celebrity, then Macrossan Street and Marina Mirage are the best places to find them, either strolling the streets or enjoying their boats. To experience the local music scene, then check out the Sunday Session, which features up to eight local bands playing in the shire. If you are looking for some rest and relaxation, try a picnic in Rex Smeal Park with local juices and snacks you pick up at the nearby markets!
- The largest city in Tropical North Queensland, Cairns is the gateway from the mainland to the Great Barrier Reef. With a population of over 140,000, Cairns is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by rainforest and exudes a laid-back atmosphere. Many of the shop signs are written in Japanese to cater to the influx of tourists coming from Japan. Cairns is a popular destination for sky-diving enthusiasts or beginners alike: if you have time, wait on standby instead of making a reservation, and you will save $150 on your dive. If you’d rather dive under the water rather than out of a perfectly good airplane, then there are plenty of expedition companies waiting to take you into the depths. If you’re just looking to relax and have a drink, Cairns has a great variety of small cafes, seafood houses, and Japanese cuisine to cater to your tastebuds.
- The most popular natural wonder in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest organism-made structure in the world. Even larger than the Great Wall of China and able to be seen from space, the Great Barrier Reef is a diver’s paradise, stretching along 900 islands. The reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and efforts are made to minimize the impact humans have (since 1985 the reef has lost half of its coral cover from pollution and climate change). The reef islands are perfect for staying near and exploring the reef, with varying levels of accommodations. If you don’t have your scuba license or you’d prefer to stay dry to explore the reed, glass-bottomed boat tours are available as well.
- Two hours north of Port Douglas is Daintree National Park, a beautiful World Heritage rainforest far from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Once threatened by the logging industry, Daintree is now protected as a national park so all can continue to enjoy its splendor. In the park is a beach, Cape Tribulation, and a beautiful walking trail along the Mossman Gorge. The indigenous Kuku Yalanji people live in a village in the park and keep their traditions and customs alive. The park also has a Daintree Discovery Centre, which gives visitors access to all levels of the forest, from the floor to the tree canopies. The Discovery Centre also has displays of the local wildlife and more information about the ecosystem of the rainforest.
- Originally a spa town for the upper classes, Kuranda is a hippie paradise with its markets full of crafts and local products. The shops are a short walk from the railway station or the Skyrail and open from 9 AM to 3:30 PM. If you’re interested in seeing the local birdlife, then you can experience flying birds soaring overhead underneath a mesh canopy at Birdworld. Koala World is home to not only koalas, but kangaroos, crocodiles, snakes, and lizards. Nearby is the Barron Gorge National Park and Barron Falls, which you can visit by following the boardwalk. The Falls are more spectacular during the rainy season, when the water gushes and roars over the rocks.
- Cooktown is named after the famous Captain James Cook who ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef in the 18th century. It is the first, albeit temporary, non-indigenous settlement in Australia. Today Cooktown celebrates its past with festivals and a museum named after the captain. There is even a Cooktown River Cruise that sets off on the Endeavour River, named after Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour, where you can see mangroves, crocodiles, snakes, and various species of birds. If you have children (or you’re a child at heart), then you’ll want to visit the Musical Playground, which has xylophones, pipes, and drums that you can play.
- 100 kilometers north of Cooktown is Lizard Island, a mountainous island with beautiful beaches and reefs perfect for snorkeling. Here is where one of Captain Cook’s men would look out for a safe path through the reef and back into the ocean. There are plenty of places to dive into the sparkling azure waters, or just lay out on the beach if you’re feeling lazy. The island is mostly untouched, except for a campground and a five-star resort, the only accommodations on the entire island.
11 Days, 8 Nights
Starting at $4,099
Spend four nights at the Silky Oaks Lodge, a nature conscious, luxurious, intimate and sophisticated, next to the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park, on the banks of the crystal clear Mossman River. During your time at Silky Oaks Lodge discover Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation along with another World Heritage-listed location, The Great Barrier Reef.