The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef

by Wiggy

The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef - where to stay, what boat to sail on, tips and advice. It's all here to ensure a perfect holiday

Our weekend started with a coach pick-up from our hotel in Port Douglas. It was the beginning of July so not too hot but we'd been warned that the Rainforest would be hot, humid and very wet so waterproofs were the first thing in the case. First stop was the "Wildlife Habitat Zoo" which was brilliant. We saw all sorts of different animals such as pythons and koalas, emu's, crocodiles and other exotic beasts. The highlight was definitely feeding the kangaroos and wallabies. We were then off on the coach again winding through sugar and banana plantations as we headed for the Daintree River and a boat trip. The boat was more of a raft with a roof on it but, after the initial fear of entering crocodile infested waters on such a flimsy vessel had subsided, we had a marvellous time and saw crocs, baby crocs and quite a few snakes hanging from the trees lining the river.

Off the boat we headed to Cow Bay, deeper into the forest, for an excellent pub lunch before being dropped off at our hotel. Our room was a large detached wooden cabin on stilts right in the heart of the forest. One large bedroom with a double bed and a nicely sized bathroom and mini bar. We stayed at a Voyages resort called The Coconut Beach which was a really good choice. It's since been purchased from Voyages by a company called Ocean and has been renamed Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa, but I'm sure the standards haven't slipped. We ate in the resorts only restaurant and found the food to be delicious yet a little pricey before retiring to ready ourselves for the next day’s trip to the Reef. Before jumping into bed we diligently followed the hotel’s instructions and checked every dark recess of the room for snakes and spiders. None found but sleep wasn’t too easy to find either that night.

Our boat, The Rum Runner, was large enough not to feel cramped amongst our group of around 25, the buffet food served was very good and the half dozen crew couldn't have been more helpful and really added to the day out. After an hour we were there and the group quickly separated into groups, those who wanted to snorkel (wet suites could be hired for $10) and those who wanted to scuba dive (again for an extra charge). It was snorkelling for us and in we jumped. It was an amazing, beautiful, dazzling experience and one I'll never ever forget. Words really can’t describe the experience so I won't do it a disservice by trying. The phrase "you have to see it yourself" has never been more apt. We even had the good fortune of witnessing a fellow traveller throwing up off the back of the boat. Not normally worth mentioning I know but this resulted in a school of some of the most wonderful, brightly coloured fish thrashing around on the surface for five minutes. A nice treat. And free. After a couple of hours at the Reef, an hour of which was spent sunbathing and lazing about on the boats roof, it was back to the hotel for another meal in the restaurant, another night listening to the local wildlife howling and screeching at our cabin (no TV or internet access to provide a distraction) before the morning coach trip back to Port Douglas and civilisation.

The whole weekend cost just over £600 in total (not including evening meals and drinks) and I can honestly say it was worth every penny. The Resort was fantastic, The Rum Runner excursion was exceptional, The Habitat Zoo and boat trip were great fun and all our guides and transportation were first rate. We really couldn't have made better choices. It really is one of those 'once in a life time' experiences and if finance, time and opportunity permit then it'll be something you'll never forget and always treasure.