Cairns: Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef!

The Great Barrier Reef has been on my Bucket list since long, and Cairns was the only Gateway to those gorgeous Coral Reefs, which stretches across 2300kms.

A region that encapsulates the stories of indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the Tropical rain forest with its wilderness, the home to various rare corals and turtles.

The 6 day long itinerary was planned up as enumerated below:

Day 1

√ Lazying around the Cairns Esplanade

√ Exploring the Cairn’s Wharf precinct

√ Pub hopping at the Cairns Waterfront

We started the day by city sighting, though Cairns city has nothing much to offer therefore the first thing we did is to grab a quick lunch at a Thai cafe at the Orchid Plaza. The 1st night we stayed at the Hides hotel, located at the Hides corner,City center. This is an 18th Century Hotel and was the first of its kind in the City.

The Esplanade is at a walking distance from the Hides corner, it has a Lagoon and a man made sandy pool, just the perfect place for the kids to jump in having loads of fun. There’s a small summer market, adjacent to this lagoon selling handmade crafts. My 3 year old enjoyed her water splash , while i was busy exploring the other side of the Lagoon. There are cafes and restaurants along the Lagoon and this would be a perfect hideout from the city chaos, specially on a lazy afternoon.

I would highly recommend the Woolshed Pub, its the no#1 party joint in the city and we simply loved the variety of cocktails it had in-store.

Woolshed Pub!
City Center

The Cairns waterfront is one of the recommended place to visit in Cairns City; and has one of the best scenic views on offer. After grabbing some drinks at the Lagoon shacks, we headed towards the much talked about waterfront.

The waterfront is located at the Reef Fleet terminal, the berthing dockyard for  all the Cruises and ferries that take off, for the great barrier reef. We enjoyed dinning at Mondo, its a fine dining restaurant, which (famously claims) to have the best view and indeed it did, we were just mesmerized.

Cairns Waterfront
Dinner at Mondo, Waterfront Cairns

Sunset, by the Waterfront, Cairns

Day 2 / Day 3

√ Reef Fleet Terminal

√ Fitzroy Island Resort

√ Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island

√ Secret Garden, Fitzroy Island

√ Turtle Sanctuary

√ Rain-forest Walking Trail

√ Snorkeling

A trip to Cairns is incomplete without a stay at the Fitzroy Island Resort, an ultimate destination for all tropical island lovers.We hopped on the early morning Ferry from the Reef fleet terminal , Cairns city, cruising through scenic rain forest and abandoned islands to reach to this Luxury coral island.

Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island Resort
Fitzroy Island Resort

Our 2 day long stay in this Island on the Great Barrier Reef was no less than a dream. If your an adventure lover, then this island with Virgin Beaches, Secret Garden, rain forest trails is the place to be.

Do read my previous blog, Destination review on Fitzroy Island Resort here!

Day 4

√ Palm Cove Beach

√ Palm Cove Shopping Village

√ Pub Hopping

We wanted to extend our stay at the Fitzroy island resort, but we had to cover the remaining joints in the itinerary as well. Therefore we spent a free and relaxed day at the Gorgeous beaches of Pam cove. Palm Cove lies 27 kms North of the city Cairns, just 45 mins drive by car or by public buses that run every hour from the city center bus stop, Cairns.

A perfect family getaway, sit back, relax and enjoy the palm tree lined up Sandy beaches. Its not advisable to venture out in the waters due to the Jelly fishes, however, there’s a barricade made by the Queensland beach authority for families to swim within the restricted area. These islands, as you can see below are privately owned by the Chinese and they have their own private resort too.

There aren’t any dearth of beach shacks, pubs or restaurants, the other side of road has a wide plethora of options that spoil you to pass the correct judgement. We chose the option to go for the local branded beer and sat down at a pub enjoying the breathtaking sunset views. The Palm Cove Shopping village has many cuisines to offer and one must visit this small, heavenly yet cosy shopping paradise. The public buses run until late in the night, so even if your not driving there isn’t any hurry for you to return back to the city.

Palm Cove beach, North Queensland
Palm Cove Shopping Village!
Palm Cove, North Queensland!
Palm Cove, beach pub

Day 5

√ Green island Cruise

√ Green island Underwater exploration

√ Snorkeling

We were back with are 3 year old toddler to cruise yet again on the blue waters to explore yet another island on the Great barrier reef, known as Green Island. This is the smallest habituated island in this region,and the Big Cat Green island Reef Cruise connects this tiny island to Cairns. You can check Cruise timings here Timetable

A bumpy ride of an Hour and 15 mins in a open top Luxury Reef Cruise, brings upon you, this colorful Coral experience. The beaches are sandy and the water is much clearer, while snorkeling we could spot turtles and sea cucumber. Soak in the sandy waters or take a beer and chill at the Green island resort pool bar or walk down the National park to have a trail water guiding you along as you explore the island. The day trip is good enough to cover Green island, i wouldn’t personally recommend anyone for an overnight stay here.

We took the National Park trail walk and reached the other part of the island in less than 15 mins, the  beaches at this end are much more clean, clear and unexplored.There’s a Crocodile farm, a small souvenir shop and the water activity centers.While exploring the National Park in the Island you will get to read about the aboriginals natural and cultural heritage and how they evolved.

The day tour included a Submarine ride with its clear Glass bottom view cruising towards the deeper part of the Reef, to capture the scenic beauty of the Corals. This tour is recommended specially if you cant swim or dive deeper into the Coral sea.

Green island, Great barrier reef!
Green island Cruise
National Park, Green island
Green island, Great Barrier Reef!

Day 6

√ Port Douglas

√ Daintree Rain Forest

√ Mossman gorge

The last day of our vacation, we preferred to spend it in the wilderness of the Rain forest known as Daintree Forest and Mossman Gorge, is just one section of this vast Forest.

Port Douglas, lies further north of Queensland approximately 1.5 hours from the city center. We had pre-booked the day tour in advance, almost all the travel agents run similar tours daily.

Port Douglas, North of Queensland!

There are several virgin beaches you may stumble upon, while driving towards Port Douglas, this was one of them where we made a stopover.

We explored a section of the Daintree Rain Forest, known as Mossman Gorge and a potion of the Rain forest as well. One can explore this part of the Daintree Rain forest in less than 6 hours, inclusive of several walking trails. The fresh water Gorge is worth a dip and was a much needed break from the sea water too, my daughter enjoyed this part of the Gorge to the max. The Gorge covers the entire section of the rain forest and is the major source of water fresh water as well ,so make sure to carry your bikini to enjoy in the fresh water

Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge

I went ahead to explore the remaining part of the rain forest and the walking trails, all i could hear was the shimmering sound of water from the Gorge that kept me company all along the Daintree forest. Make sure to have your walking shoes and drinking water with you as the trails are more than 5 kms long walk each way.

Waking up in Paradise at the Fitzroy Island Resort, Cairns!

Best Guide to the Fitzroy Island Resort

Have you ever dreamed of having a private beach to yourself? or may enjoy a family cocktail and dinner on a beachfront cafe? or waking up to the sound of the waves at the Great Barrier reef?

When you think of any Tropical islands, a beautiful post card picture appears in front of your eyes with emerald blue ocean and lush green mountains.The Fitzroy island is no way less than a paradise on the Coral sea on the North of Queensland, Australia and i was fortunate to spend 2 days in this Idyllic Island.

Well one doesn’t have to travel far to experience the serenity of this place, take the Fitzroy Island resort ferry from the Reef Fleet Terminal at Cairns City. A 45 mins long ferry ride among the inhabited islands and Rain forest is worth the time and money.

Located on the Great Barrier Reef, this island offers something to everyone and i loved every minute of my stay in this beautiful island resort.

Cruising along the rain forest mountains!
Enjoying the Ferry Ride!
Crossing the inhabitant islands!

Click here for the Ferry Timetable

Once you reach the island your greeted by the hotel staff and handed over the Fitzroy Island map, that comes handy while exploring this 339 hectare continental island .With towering rain-forest mountains, a lighthouse, fringing tropical reefs, a turtle rehabilitation center , Virgin Beaches, along with several eating options, this island resort has everything to offer.

Click here for Fitzroy island Map

As we were traveling with our 3 year old toddler, so the first thing we did on day 1 was to hit the beaches. The island beaches are made of Coral rocks and are not quite comfortable to walk around, so make sure to wear shoes.One can hear a clinging sound while the waves hits the coral rocks on the shore, quite a musical sound it is.


Snorkeling along the island we spotted colorful turtles and fishes, the corals around the islands are mostly white and off white in color, if your keen on diving into the deep sea you might be lucky to spot the colorful corals and the sea cucumber too. Its always advisable to wear sting suits as Jelly fishes are rampant during this time of the year.There are water sport hiring shops on the beach itself and special diving trainers too, if you wish to explore the deep underwater world.

The resort has a bar pool which has a kids section too, so while you enjoy the island cocktails, you can leave your toddlers at the kids pool to have their own fun.

Our Day 2 , on the Island stated with having hot breakfast on the beach, the sumptuous breakfast menu made us drooling for more. Their hot breakfast is a must try and is available for 22AUD/person and is worth the penny, specially with the  view!

breakfast on the beach!

We were recommended by some fellow travelers to explore the Nudey Beach , which is on the other side of the island. Please  do not go by the name, you have to keep your clothes on in this Nudey beach though.A 25 mins trek through the bushes and the rain forest landed us up in this secluded beach. We trekked through the path with our 3 year old toddler and it wasn’t as tough as we thought it to be.


This is a sandy beach in which one can snorkel and swim too unlike the other beaches on the island, at low tide one can get an easy view of the corals too.

If you happen to have a day tour, i would recommend that one should venture the Nudey beach instead of going to other beaches on the island, totally secluded and you have a whole private beach to yourself and your family, isn’t it amazing?

Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island
Nudey Beach, view from the top!

My little one was too excited to see the Turtle sanctuary on the island, where the injured and the old turtles are kept , kind of rehab place. There are 2 tours that runs through the day and the cost of the tours are like 8.5AUD/person and 5AUD/Child and the kids totally love this place, so did we.

The Island has a little Fitzroy island located adjacent to it and there’s a small lighthouse on it as well,there isn’t much on this baby island but you can swim , which is the only mode of travel to this smaller version of the island.


I loved lazying around the Nudey beach and getting clicked, the place is too beautiful for not being photographed for memories and i made sure to carry these memories along with you.

Before we could catch the sunset while relaxing on the deck with our evening cocktails we decided to trek up to the secret garden on the Fitzroy island. This is 30-40 min trek along the rain forest before you could find yourself among the beautiful wild flower garden,if kids can trek that long, this place is worth the visit.

We bid adieu as we caught the last 5pm Ferry back to the cairns city, enjoying the sail as we saw the sun going down.


I still feel 2 days is pretty short to enjoy this tropical paradise on the Great barrier reef, but i surely look forward revisiting this island once again very soon.

Till then , keep reading , while i am coming up with the Destination review of Cairns soon!

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all my readers!