We just flew home from Cairns and had the most amazing time! The first day we arrived, we just walked around the small town and spent some time in the local lagoon/pool area (since there are crocodiles in the actual open water area). It was a fun, relaxing day and a great start to our short vacation. We stayed at the Cairns YHA, and actually got upgraded in our room so we had a private bathroom and air-conditioning, which was great because it was very hot and humid there. The YHA even had its own pool. We got dinner at Rusty’s Markets, which are open every weekend and also picked up ton of cheap fruit. Peaches are $12/kg here in Sydney; there they were $4! It was very exciting for someone like me who lives on fruit, especially in the heat.
The second day we had a tour of the Daintree Rainforest. It was so amazing; I had never seen a place so undeveloped. It was so amazing to walk through the rainforest and yes; it was actually raining there. We drove through and reached the only way to cross the Daintree River, which is by ferry, for the next 120 km. Because it is classified as a World Heritage Site, there cannot be any further development. While some people lived there before the classification, they cannot build up anymore than what is already there. We ate lunch in the forest and got to go swimming on the beach. The water was so much warmer than in Sydney. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I hope I have more chances to explore places like that.
The third day was the Great Barrier Reef. We walked down to the docks in the morning and headed off to the first reef we would visit. Here we snorkeled and saw all kinds of beautiful fish and corals. My favorite were the Parrotfish, which I just kind-of followed around for much of the time. Then my group was called for an introduction to scuba diving session. It was completely optional, but I was very excited to try. I was the first one to pass the test in my group, so I was just waiting underwater while everyone else tried to pass. That was the only time I was nervous, because I was down there alone, under all this water, but once we started moving, I felt fine again. We saw giant clams, clown fish and some amazing corals. Unfortunately, no sea turtles, sharks, or rays for us that day. More importantly, no sunburn either! Overall it was one of the best experiences of my life and I hope I have the chance to do it again, before more of the reef dies off.