We made it to the airport for our early flight out of Fiji. As we took off we were sad to be leaving because we both really enjoyed being there. However, we were excited to be on our way to Australia! Our flight had us landing in Brisbane and then taking another flight up to Cairns (pronounced “cans”).
Arriving in Cairns
We got to Cairns and found our airport transfer Ashley set up for us. We piled into the van and he took us to our hostel. Since we were really over budget in Fiji we booked a really cheap hostel in Cairns to try and get things started on the right foot in Australia. We knew we would be over budget in Australia so the cheaper we could be the better. We found a place called “The Jack”. The Jack is situated directly above “a massive bar and live entertainment 7 nights a week”. We got our key and made our way to the room.
The room was basic but it worked for us. We were positioned in a probably the best spot at the opposite end of the stage where bands perform each night. The hostel only cost $35/night. On top of that, there is a FREE dinner each night at the bar. Their assumption is that you’re going to drink enough for them to make up the money. Shockingly, the free food each night was actually decent and there was plenty of it as well.
After we got settled into our room we made our way out to explore the city. We found a board walk area that was set up nicely with a public pool and a big park for people to hang out in. We decided we’d come back another day and kept exploring the city. Cairns is pretty small and we were able to walk most of the interesting parts within the first day we were there.
We quickly noticed how familiar everything felt. It basically felt like America except everyone talks a little different! There were some minor differences but overall we started feeling right at home. Walking into the Woolworths, the local super market, made us feel even more at home. Everything was just normal again which was really nice.
Boardwalk and the Night Market
The next day we made our way down to the board walk again. We both felt like going for a run since we’d been doing nothing in Fiji the whole time. We laced up our shoes and took off down the board walk. It was a great run along the ocean and you were able to run the length of most of the city along the path. We picked up some lunch from Woolworths and had lunch in the park that day which was a good way to save money.
That night we found our way into a night market area. The night market wasn’t anything too spectacular. It was mostly touristy trinkets, but once place did catch our eye. They offered a 40 minute massage for $15 AUS which was around $12 for us. The place was packed so we decided to give it a shot. It was an interesting massage because you keep your clothes on throughout. They give you a quick leg massage and clean your feet up, then you hop on a table along side lots of other people all in the same room. Overall it was actually a pretty good massage for the price!
Diving the Great Barrier Reef
If you want to dive the Great Barrier Reef you either go from Cairns or Port Douglas. We opted to go with Cairns as there are a lot more dive operators there. We brought our gear and made our way down to the marina which was only a 15 minute walk from our hostel. We got on the boat and it was a pretty large ship with 50 or so people on it.
I finally got Ashley on board to try a dive and I was excited for her to check it out. We went out on a large ship with a lot of people but they did a great job of getting new divers into a small group and working with them. Unfortunately one of the girls in Ashleys group couldn’t go down or do much so she was stuck near the surface for a good chunk of her dive. Regardless, I’m so proud of her for giving it a shot! I hope we’ll get a few more opportunities on the trip to dive together!
My dive was decent but I was slightly underwhelmed. You hear about the great barrier reef being the absolute best but it wasn’t as awesome as I might have expected. I think Fiji might have ruined it for me because Fiji was so amazing. I actually preferred the diving in Fiji over the great barrier reef. That said, we went on an over cast day and it was sprinkling when we were out there. We also only did a dive one day so perhaps if we would have tried a few more times it would have gotten better if we saw more. Regardless, a dive is a dive and the great barrier reef was still a great dive. There were a lot of fish and there were also a few very large fish to see.
We spent our first four nights in Cairns before moving on. While we enjoyed it there, it was also a big party spot for 18 to 20 year olds. When we got to our hostel I’m pretty sure the other people staying there were wondering why the old people picked this place. We were far and away the oldest people in the entire hostel. We enjoyed Cairns but it’s definitely a young party city! We had heard from a few people that Port Douglas was an older crowd so we were excited to head that way and check it out!