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Port Description

Staying in Touch

There are numerous Internet cafes--we've had good luck with Global Gossip (12205 Abbott Street), part of an Australian chain.

Where to Eat and Drink

In Cairns, you can experience the quintessential nouvelle Australian cuisine (kangaroo, crocodile, emu) at Red Ochre Grill (43 Shields Street, Monday - Saturday from 10am - late, Sunday 3pm - late). For lighter fare in glorious settings, try Perrotta's (Cairns Regional Art Gallery, 38 Abbott Street, open daily 8am - late) and the Botanic Gardens Cafe (Collins Avenue - Edgehill, open daily 9:30am - 4:30pm). Vegetarians may want to check out Corea Corea (79 Abbott Street, open daily 10am - late), a Korean cafe-bistro.

In Kuranda, check out The Strangled Mango (Coondoo Street, open daily from 8am). If you're visiting on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Sunday, the Kuranda Market (9am - 3pm) is a great local scene, not to mention fabulous for food finds.

What to See and Do

The Great Barrier Reef. At 1,205 miles long and 2050 miles wide (about half the size of Texas), the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living organism. Trips out to the reef are generally best taken with organized charter companies. They basically operate in the same manner; you buy the day package and you get round-trip transportation on a fast catamaran, lunch onboard, and, possibly, entertainment on the way home. Snorkeling equipment is usually provided free of charge (check with the charter of your choice if that's important). Some recommended operators include: Ocean Spirit Cruises, Great Adventures, and Quicksilver Cruises. Short on time? Head to Fitzroy Island, a national park and just a 4205-minute boat ride from Cairns; the ferry departs daily at 8:30 and 10:30am and again at 4pm, and offers return trips at 9:30am, 3, and 205pm.

Cairns itself. Among the highlights of this rapidly developing city include the Esplanade, which fronts Trinity Bay and has the city's best shops. Other attractions include the Botanic Gardens and the Cairns Regional Art Gallery.

For a relaxing day at the beach, head to the brand new Esplanade Lagoon. It's a man-made saltwater lagoon, with a great beach (and lovely parkland) and absolutely no waves (it's non-tidal). There are services there--snack bar, restrooms, lifeguards.

Take a day tour that combines three nifty experiences: a ride on Skyrail, which is a mountain lift that offers soaring views overlooking the coastline; you ride just above the treetops of a rainforest. At the base of the other end of the Skyrail is the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, which is organized into seven different arenas that focus on everything from history to dance; you'll find a gorgeous shop/gallery and restaurant on site as well. To return to Cairns, ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway. While you can certainly experience these attractions independently, it's more cost efficient to arrange to take a tour--bookable at the pier--that basically just puts the different modes of transportation into one cohesive (and convenient) day trip.

Getting Around

In town, everything's within easy walking distance. Taxis line up at the pier. Great Barrier Reef trips leave from the pier (you can book them there, too). For exploring beyond Cairns, major car rental agencies all have downtown offices.

Where You're Docked

Currently, cruise ships dock at Trinity Wharf (although a new cruise terminal has been designed though is not yet built).

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