We stayed in Cairns for 3 days. Cairns is beautiful, the Esplanade is amazing and it’s the perfect location to sunbathe, drink with friends and have some late nights with friends and music. But 3 days are enough, even 5-7 days are enough. After the 3rd day we realised there is nothing to do in Cairns, it gets boring.
A part from the Esplanade you can also visit Palm Cove, up north Cairns. It only takes 45 minutes and the beach is insanely beautiful, but don’t go bathe as there’s box jellyfish and crocodiles. However, there is a designed bath area where you can still go in and have a swim (at least it’s something).
My advice is to stay there for 3 days mainly to visit the Great Barrier Reef and some beaches, then continue to go south, do not stay more than that, as you’ll get bored and won’t know what to do (Some friends went to the cinema and watched a movie, but that’s not what you’re after when you’re travelling in Australia, right?)
The Great Barrier Reef was done in one day. You go early morning with a designated boat that will take you there, it takes around 4 hours, but boats provide you with food, drinks and fun games where you can meet people and make friends.
On board you can choose to scuba dive or snorkel, scuba diving is more expensive but definitely worth the money. You don’t need to be an expert to scuba dive, you can have a quick learning lesson on board that will provide you with all the information needed for the diving.
Alert!!! Don’t get your expectations to high. You will get disappointed. The Great Barrier Reef is NOT this anymore:
It actually looks like this:
It is pretty devastating how colourless and depressing it looks down there. But this is the reality, there is no colour, barely saw any fish, and didn’t see any turtles at all. They might tell you “If it’s you’re lucky day you’ll see plenty of fish, turtles and sharks!” But most agencies just try to sell you the trip. Be prepared to see some damage.