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cairns a disaster? Kuranda a tourist trap? Daintree worth...

belgium
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cairns a disaster? Kuranda a tourist trap? Daintree worth...

We will be up north in Aug 05

I read very often that Cairns is a disaster and that Port Douglas is so much better. Is the difference really so huge? Are the reefs you can get to from Cairns really not good? And if they are OK, which reef / boat would you advise?

I read many positive things about Cape Tribulation. Is it worth going up north to Daintree to stay there a few days in the rainforest?

I read many positive things about Kuranda and the train and gondola trip to their but I still have the impression that it is very touristy and not real. Am I mistaken or am I right. And if I am right, would you consider that even then it is still so nice that it is still worth visiting?

Finally, any comment on the Waterfalls in Milla Milla etc?

Geelong...
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1. Re: cairns a disaster? Kuranda a tourist trap? Daintree worth...

Wintertravel you should read a post about Cairns vs Port Douglas which should be pretty recent(one pops up every month or so). I have put my thoughts in that post and I personally don't have a problem with Cairns. Cairns is a real town that depends on tourism, it has normal Queenslanders living there and I have stayed with them and seen Cairns through a locals eyes. Like any town it does have problem areas but it is very safe, we walked all over Cairns at night time and felt safe at all times. There are a number of backpackers there but they are all trying to find work and enjoy the heat.

Port Douglas is more manufactured and has many wealthy holiday homes. Because of this I find overpricing in their shops and restaurants. Very nice place to visit but I wouldn't stay there. These are all individual choices and depend on what you want out of your holiday.

About the sites up there, Kuranda itself is very touristy and I suppose the rides up there are also but we did the gondola ride up and train ride back and they were interesting enough, I would recommend doing them. You can get to the reef easily from Cairns but the outer reef is the better option. We did something a bit different and went out on the fastest ride out there, can't recall the boat name though. It leaves from Fitzroy Island. You board at the harbour in Cairns. Great different option if you like a bit of speeeeeeed.

Minneapolis, MN
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2. Re: cairns a disaster? Kuranda a tourist trap? Daintree worth...

I agree with the preceding post regarding Cairns and Kuranda. I thought the ride on the gondola was fabulous! I was fortunate to be alone in my car!

I've been to Cape Tribulation and think it is very much worth the trip!

Cairns is a great stopping place to get out to a reef, but I agree it is toursity, but it was safe. I was travelling alone!

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3. Re: cairns a disaster? Kuranda a tourist trap? Daintree worth...

Stay central - like around the beaches is best - Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach are just great places to say. Port Douglas is very expensive and a tourist trap. It is only 45 - 50 minute drive.

The train and skyrail are great and everybody should do it. Kuranda is a market area.

Cape Tribulation is worth a visit - maybe one night as there is not much else to do. Or you can take a drive in one day.

You can also drive to the Milla Milla falls and visit Panorella Park - very scenic and worth doing. Yet again, you drive it in one day.

The Great Barrier Reef - there are some operators who leave out of Port Douglas but the majority leave out of Cairns. We went on a few reef trips and the best ones (and gives you longer time on the reef) are the ones that leave from Cairns. Port Douglas - you only get 3 hours on the reef whereas if you leave from Cairns you get 5 hours at least.

Good luck - hope you have picked some good accommodation.

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: cairns a disaster? Kuranda a tourist trap? Daintree worth...

Just returned from this area and will say that Cairns certainly caters to tourists but it has many charms and is not overbearing as some touristy areas are. We did not get up to Port Douglas because of cyclone Ingrid closing in on northern Queensland so I can't speak to that, but we did decide to split the difference and stay at the Malaleuca Resort in Palm Cove. It is about 20 minutes north of Cairns, is very laid back, not touristy, good value apartment-style accommodation, nice location on the beach and most tour operators pick up at the door. There are a wide variety of restaurants/cafes, a few shops/markets and spa facilities all within walking distance. While we were there, we went to the outer reef with the Ocean Spirit tour and would highly recommend them - very professional. We also did hot air ballooning with Hot Air and visited Kuranda. The cultural centre/rail/gondola are touristy but that's because it's worth doing. Be aware that the small town of Kuranda is pretty much all shopping and cafes and is the most "touristy" thing about that day trip. If you want to purchase any aboriginal art, the store at the base of the gondola is worth considering. I did shop around and their quality, pricing and shipping facility are second to none.

If you decide to use Palm Cove as your jumping off point for tours, note that it is a brief and pleasant $12.00 shuttle ride from the Cairns airport.

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5. Re: cairns a disaster? Kuranda a tourist trap? Daintree worth...

have just got back from touring oz and can definately say that my time in cairns has some of my most treasured memories!!!

main highlights are my day out on Barrier Reef and day to Atherton Tablelands.

we went onto reef with "ocean free" who we liked because they only take small groups so it is a very personal day and as i have a great fear of the sea but really wanted to try diving i liked the fact that they offered 2:1 dives (which was helped by the fact the instructer held my hand the whole way round)

Milla Milla falls are definately worth a look - but i would definately recommend doing the "uncle brians" trip. He takes you to the Atherton Tablelands (including Milla Milla falls) and you get to see loads of beautiful places and learn loads about the rainforest but at the same time it is none stop fun all day. It was definately the highlight of my whole trip!!!

Kuranda is worth a look if you have a spare day. we took the skyrail up there and the scenic steam train back and really enjoyed both. kurunda town itself is very touristy and not as authentic as i was expecting or was hoping it would be but at the same time we had a great day out. there are a few wildlife parks there too and also an aboriginal cultural park near where you board the skyrail in caravonica if you fancy something a bit different whilst there. futhermore there are a few nature walks throughout kuranda which take you away from the souviner shops etc which is a nice way to spend the day without any extra expense.

whatever you decide to do hope you have a great trip.