Cairns, Australia

Whitsunday Passage

On our way between Brisbane and Cairns we sailed through Whitsunday Passage, a beautiful time of scenic cruising.

Green Island, Great Barrier Reef

Cairns is about halfway up the coast of Queensland, and is the place from which many people access the Great Barrier Reef.  We decided we wanted to try the Barrier Reef again on this visit, but this time chose a tour that Holland America dropped from its list, apparently because people complained that they wanted a guided walk through the rain forest.  The tour took us to Green Island, the only island in the Barrier Reef that has trees on it.  We chose to do a half-day tour that gave us a couple of hours to snorkel, walk around the island, and go on a glass bottom boat.  We did some snorkeling, which did not go real well for Susan - there is a definite learning curve for it.  There were three different kinds of fish easily seen near shore; Harry went out further and also went over by the pier, so he saw a lot more.  We decided that we’d get the best view of the coral and fish if we took the glass bottom boat ride, so we did that, and what we got to see was wonderful.  Lots of fish, lots of coral, a couple of sea slugs or sea cucumbers that were huge.  While we were on land we had encounters with several kinds of birds: a black heron, a couple of egrets, and a very tame bird, the Buff-banded Rail, a couple of which had cute little black chicks.

A nice part of this excursion was that the ride on the catamaran was quite easy both ways, and it took only about 45 minutes instead of the 90 minutes it took us to get out to the pontoon float last time.  For Susan, it was really nice to feel good enough to see the beauty of the island and to enjoy all the activities.

On the island they had several other options some of which we would love to return and try.  There is a snorkeling boat trip which takes you to some better areas to see more.  They have the helmet "dive" activity which requires no training and you can even wear your glasses since your head remains dry.  Air is supplied through long tubes.  The island is the only one on the Great Barrier Reef which has a rain forest.  There is a trail with interpretive signs which we would love to walk.  Clearly you could spend an entire day there and have lots of neat experiences.

After lunch we walked into town on what turned out to be a fools errand, so we decided to stop at the Croc Bar at the Grand Hotel and have a local beer.  Always a good solution when one can’t meet one’s objectives for a particular time.  This has to be one of the most unusual bars anywhere.  The croc has hind legs and a tail that don’t show in this photo.

We have now been to Cairns twice, and both times have chosen to visit the Great Barrier Reef.  There are many other things to see in the area, which would be nice to try.  For other photos of our experience in Cairns, check out this photo album.

© Susan L. Stone 2015