Cairns is perfect for a long-weekend getaway. My friend and I are pretty good with planning our long weekends and we ventured to Tropical North Queensland Labour Weekend last year. I feel I am doing considerably well at exploring this incredible country, however I would still love to surf, jam and live in a van whilst road-tripping around this vast continent. Maybe one day, but for now long-weekends are my haven!
After checking in late at night, we weren’t sure of the view that would await us but were pleasantly surprised come morning. We were up with the birds (the rest of Cairns seem to be late risers as there weren’t many people around), wandered around looking for an open coffee shop for a much needed chai latte, and then jumped on a bus heading to Palm Cove. I seriously felt like I had just arrived in Hawaii; huge palm trees, humid breeze, and a stretch of a golden sand beach awaited us for the day. I was ready to relax! We found a posse and settled in for the morning with a good book. It was so hot we had to keep jumping in the water; albeit ever so briefly due to the ‘Beware Crocodile’ signs everywhere. After wandering the short strip of the village we stopped for lunch and had the best coconut water I have ever tasted. It was so natural and sweet but so refreshing at the same time. Straight up best coconut water on the market (apart from straight out of the coconut itself of course).
Cairns seems to buzz at night time, and made me feel like I was back in Thailand or Bali with restaurants on the sidewalk packed to the brim with tourists and bars starting to fill up for the night. No wonder it’s a ghost town in the mornings. We decided to head out to the Pier and check out the bars, starting with Salt House; a funky, chilled out bar with an amazing outdoor setting and live music. I enjoyed a kiwifruit infused cocktail and it was delicious! Afterwards we ventured to The Pier Bar and Grill which was relatively quiet for a Saturday night; we soon learnt it was the place to be on Sundays. After a few more drinks we hailed a taxi (which was actually a guy on a push bike with a cart on the back) who rode us to Gilligan’s for 10 bucks. Gilligan’s is actually a hostel, but hosts a 1000 person beer hall heaving with enthusiastic backpackers, numerous dance floors, DJs, an outdoor pool and an attic bar that has more of a lounge vibe.
Feeling a little hazy the next morning was soon replaced by sheer excitement at the fact we were going to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World; The Great Barrier Reef. Thank God I don’t get seasick! After an hour on the boat we cruised up to our first bommie (which is a stand alone coral structure) and proceeded to jump in. Below the surface of the blue sea is the most extraordinary kingdom on the planet; one that is so full of colour, movement, life and unknown wonders that can truly take your breath away. We had to wear sexy lycra stinger suits as a precaution against the deadly Box jellyfish which lives in these waters. One particular species is thumbnail size and I certainly wouldn’t like one to be stuck in my swimmers! We learnt so much about the coral and marine life and visited two more bommies that day; including one that was shaped like Mickey Mouse!
The next day was spent at the Esplanade Lagoon which is a huge salt water pool built for safe swimming (ie no crocs or jellyfish), and it was utter bliss. Yes we attempted hair flicks……before slowly making our way home.
Weekends spent in wonder