So I had a really nice trip to Port Douglas, Queensland Australia. PD is about 70km North of Cairns (the closest airport), and took about 1 ½ hours to reach due to curvy two lane roads hugging the coastline, although I may have gotten there faster were it not for the kind police office that clocked me doing 92km in and 80km zone. Thankfully he let me go with a warning and no ticket, so I was sure to follow the speed limit the rest of the way up the coast. Although I was not able to enjoy the scenery on the way up cause it was almost midnight, I was on the way back, and it really was beautiful. I would liken the drive to Highway 1 in California from Marin County to Sonoma County lots of turns but beautiful. The big difference was the ocean was azure blue and the beaches sand super white. The other great part about Northeastern Australia is that it was warm, about 80 degrees, whereas Sydney is fully in winter in the mid 50’s and rainy. It was a nice change of pace and reminded me of summer back home.
I stayed at the Sheraton Mirage Resort in Port Douglas, although an older resort built in the mid 80’s and the first Mega Resort in PD the grounds were amazing. The rooms or at least mine was not dingy but very very dated. I realized I didn’t take any pictures of the room, I should have because the pink marble in the bathroom matched the pink toilet and sink perfectly. The room was well maintained, it was just dated, lacking wireless internet (they had a cable though) and free wireless in the lobby, it also had limited power plugs, so keeping technology powered up was a challenge. The room was spacious and had a great view of the pool and beach. According to the website they have five acres of pools, and they sure were amazing, but very empty. I suppose there’s so much to do in the area, including a stunning beach on property as well as all of the Great Barrier Reef activities in the area, the pools were just not busy. As for hotel amenities, I didn’t use any besides the internet. I was only there for 1 ½ days and one day was spent on the reef so I just didn’t do much there. Would I stay here again if in the area, probably, it was nice enough.
The main purpose of my trip was to visit the reef, and boy what an experience. I went on a medium sized catamaran that held 35 passengers and three crew, but on this day we only had 27 passengers. Because of the small group and small boat we went to three different snorkel sites on Opal Reef (about 50km East of PD), the one way trip took about 1 ½ hours. There are other ways to get to the reef are helicopter, private yacht and even mega catamarans with 200+ people on it. Although those other options have their own appeal, I wanted a smaller group and less people to have to navigate through to see the reef.
My boat for the day the Calypso
Let me just say that the reef was amazing, and I feel one of those potential once in a lifetime experiences, although I hope to go back someday with my wife and daughter. But the best part was seeing three Humpback wales two were calves breeching for about 15 minutes on our way to the reef. The calves were coming completely out of the water and the other whale halfway. This was truly amazing, and I felt so lucky to see this. I did take a ton of pictures but we were about 300 yards away and I just couldn’t get a good one. But just the image was incredible, it just makes me want to take an Alaskan Cruise to see more of these beautiful creatures.
See the tiny calf in the distance
On the reef I saw tons and tons of beautiful coral and clams and tons of fish. The water was incredibly clear and visibility was like 20-30 feet and at some points only a few feet deep. The star of the show was definitely the coral. There is something like 200 varieties of coral here, and I swear I saw it all. The fish varieties were top notch too, it was like being in a tank at a really nice aquarium, except this was the real deal.