I recently had the pleasure of taking an educational group to Cairns & Port Douglas! I had been a few years prior to this awesome area but it was the first time for everyone in my group and I was excited to show them what was on offer.
We arrived at Cairns airport and found our shuttle bus driver very easily, next to the baggage carousel. One hour later we arrived at our first destination – Port Douglas. As soon as we arrived, a wave of relaxation poured over us with a laid back village feel that we were immersed in. The tropical sun also had us in good spirits 🙂
After checking into our accommodation for the night at the Mantra Aqueous on Port, we took a look around the property – this is a very convenient location with great facilities! Mantra Heritage, Mantra on the Inlet & Mantra in the Village followed after that (again all great options for both couples and families and very central!) and later that night we took a stroll to the iconic Central Hotel for dinner. We had noticed that a lot of other restaurants were very full on this Thursday evening so probably best to book in advance!
The following day we took a guided tour to Cape Tribulation & the Daintree Rainforest. Our first stop was a Daintree River cruise which was fantastic! The guide on the boat was very passionate and advised us about the different flora & fauna we came across. The most exciting part was seeing crocodiles in their natural habitat! We saw 2 decent size crocs along with several species of birds and we all said how much we all enjoyed this!
After a yummy BBQ lunch in the rainforest we continued onto Cape Tribulation beach for a walk before driving onto Mossman Gorge. Here we enjoyed some delicious damper and tea and had an information session on Aboriginal culture. Although quite a long day, this tour was very informative and a lot of fun 🙂
We were dropped off at QT hotel for our accommodation afterwards and were lucky enough to spend 2 nights here. This is a very funky property and would highly recommend it for everyone. Although it is a little bit out of town, they do have a shuttle available which departs often otherwise car hire is a good alternative. The breakfast here was one of the best I’ve EVER had!!! The variety of food & the rustic feel to it was outstanding!
The next morning we were picked up by a coach and taken to the marina for our day out on the reef with Quicksilver. The group was looking forward to spending the day out in the sunshine and looking at what this ‘Wonder of the World’ had to offer!
The water was quite rough so most of us had some medication to help combat the sea sickness I would highly recommend taking some as it can affect the whole experience if you’re not well. I also recommend taking a light jacket or cardigan even when it’s quite warm as it can become quite breezy when travelling at high speeds!
It took about one and a half hours to get to the pontoon in the middle of the outer reef. This was the base for many water activities including diving, snorkelling and helmet diving! For those that don’t want to swim, there is the underwater viewing chamber where you can see plenty of fish and activity without getting wet. A helicopter flight is another great alternative!!!
After about 4 hours on the pontoon (and with our bellies full of great food after morning & afternoon and a hearty buffet lunch!) we headed back to Port Douglas and back to our hotel. Considering how much excitement we had during the day and with the fresh sea air in our lungs, we were all pretty tired so decided on an early night.
Sunday meant we were to check out of the QT resort and travel onto Cairns for our final night. En route we stopped for lunch and a quick hotel inspection of Thala Beach Lodge – a beautiful property just outside of Port Douglas combining a beach & bush experience. While we were there, a wedding was being prepared against the beautiful backdrop. I would highly recommend this property to couples wanting a romantic escape or a quick getaway.
Two hours passed and we were picked up by our lovely driver and taken to the Pullman Cairns International. Along the way we travelled through Palm Cove – one of my personal favourites and a little piece of paradise! The free time we were allocated during the afternoon in Cairns was dampened (so to speak!) with the heavy rain but we still managed to get out and see the Lagoon on the waterfront and have a nice coffee in one of the many coffee shops.
On our last evening we had an indulgent dinner at the Tamarind restaurant at the Pullman Reef Hotel & Spa. We could certainly tell why this restaurant had won so many awards!! Some of the group went on to experience the nightlife Cairns had to offer while the others retreated back to their hotel.
The following morning we ventured back to the airport for our flights home. The time had come for this tropical getaway to finish. We were all very sad to be leaving – not only because we had all created a close bond, but also because we knew colder temperatures were waiting for us at our destinations. I think sometimes Tropical North Queensland is often overlooked in favour of international destinations but I am blessed to have such beauty in our own backyard and will 100% return again in the future.
Written by Martine Littlestone, Infinity Australia & New Zealand Consultant