7 Days in the Sunshine State’s Top End
If you are thinking of flying north for the winter, then you won’t be disappointed by the array of sun-drenched options to satiate your seasonal desires! Here’s your 7-day itinerary of places to stay, eat and visit.
Arrive in Cairns and pick up your hire car to drive 20 minutes north to the beachfront idyll of Palm Cove. Check into the tropical Sea Temple Resort and start to unwind! Depending on your arrival time, you may like to take a stroll along the palm-fringed beach and head to Chill Cafe for a quick cocktail before dining at nearby Vivo Bar and Grill.
Head to Port Douglas, a 40 minute scenic drive up the coast for a day of eating and strolling. If it’s a Sunday, the arts and crafts markets at the Anzac Park end of Macrossan St will give you plenty to drool over. As your stomach starts to rumble, make tracks to Harrisons for a casual and delicious lunch on the breezy verandah. Spend the afternoon perusing the shops or head to the beach for a nap and a swim. Don’t forget to pick up some Mocka’s pies to take back to your hotel for dinner!
You can’t go to Cairns and not experience the skyrail and skytrain to and from Kuranda. You can drive to the skyrail departure point and park for the day, then head up the hills into the rainforest. The views back to the coastline and over the rainforest canopy are stunning. Make sure you get off at Barron Gorge for some amazing photo opportunities. Once in Kuranda, it really is about browsing the shops, eating (I recommend the Petit Cafe), and maybe taking a river cruise. Head back on the skytrain (I recommend upgrading to Gold Class for drinks and nibbles on the train in a heritage carriage) to take in more amazing views. Once back in Cairns, a shuttle bus will take you back to your car – too easy! If you haven’t had enough to eat, head to the iconic Nu Nu in Palm Cove for a memorable dining experience.
The nearby Atherton Tablelands is a great day trip to discover the food delights of the region, with some majestic waterfalls and mountain views along the way. Read my blog on the Atherton Tablelands Foodie Tour for some ideas! Collect some cheeses, chocolate, coffee and vegetables (from The Humpy) along the way for dinner when you get home.
Ready for some snorkelling? Drive to the Reef Terminal in Cairns (beware of peak hour traffic so head off early!) to catch the Big Cat to Green Island and enjoy a day of reef viewing, snorkelling from the beach or from a selection of glass bottom boats, semi-submarines, helmut diving or scuba diving. Have lunch at the Green Island Resort restaurant – great food and a relaxed vibe. Go for a stroll around the island or just chill on the beach! Back in Palm Cove, head to the Temple of Tastes at the Sea Temple Resort for a relaxed dinner.
Time for some croc-spotting so it’s back up the north coast to Daintree, for a Daintree for a river cruise. There are a number of options to choose from, some including morning or afternoon tea, and all featuring knowledgeable guides. If you have time, take a stroll around the quaint village of Daintree. As lunch looms, head south to Mossman Gorge, to the stunning Silky Oaks Lodge. The open-sided restaurant teeters over the Mossman River and provides a tranquil setting for leisurely dining. Once back in Palm Cove, if you are still overwhelmed by lunch, grab some takeaway prawns and a smoked salmon caesar salad from the Palm Cove Surf Life Saving Club, as a tasty but simple snack.
Another day of action, as you catch the Raging Thunder ferry to Fitzroy Island for some sea kayaking, snorkelling and swimming. The guided kayaking includes a picnic lunch, after which you can take one of the hikes around the island, or just relax on the beach. Before you head home, make sure you treat yourself to a cocktail at Foxy’s Bar on the beach! If you feel like a spot to eat and drink, stop off at the Salt House on the Cairns Marina, before heading back to Palm Cove.
Well, your action-packed, and relaxing, holiday is over! You’ve covered a lot of ground, but it’s been worth it.
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