Cairns and Port Douglas
After a canceled flight followed by an additional unexpected night in Perth (oh the joys of travel) we arrived in Cairns (pronounced “cans”, silly silent letters) in Queensland. Cairns is mostly an airport and touristy boardwalk that lead the way to Port Douglas, the cuter town about an hour drive north that is the main launch point for tours to the Great Barrier Reef. The reef tour that we did was a smaller boat for the most seaworthy of tourists. While it was not the biggest ship, Poseidon is one of the oldest companies running tours on the reef with access to over 40 snorkeling sites (many of the other companies only have licenses to visit a handful of reefs). The thing that was most surprising to me was how spread out the individual reefs are. I was expecting miles upon miles of one long reef, when in reality there are hundreds of reefs that more resemble a string of islands than a complete body. While the reefs in deeper water were more impressive from a construction standpoint, the shallower reefs were best for fish (and shark! And turtle!) viewing.
Port Douglas itself was a pretty standard tourist town, but thanks to some local recommendations we were able to find some gems. The two best restaurants were the Tin Shed (Combined Club) and Salsa Bar & Grill. We definitely would have never found the Tin Shed or thought we could go in unless someone had directed us there. It was right on the water with a great view of the harbor, and the food was the most reasonably priced in Port Douglas. The restaurant is actually a non-profit that many locals own a membership to, but non-members are welcome to eat there also (they just pay about $1 more per plate). Salsa was recommended by various locals as the best restaurant in Port Douglas. It was a higher end place, but it was unfussy and you really felt like they cared about the food (as opposed to many other PD restaurants that seemed to just be expensive to rip off tourists). The menu focused on local fish, which was even used to make jambalaya. Who would of thought, Creole food in Queensland! Well, it’s better than pumpkin soup in WA 🙂