The Cairns Tour You DON’T Want To Book
This was easily my least favorite tour of the 3-day package I booked when visiting Cairns. We spent far too long on a crammed bus, the tour guide had a bit of an attitude, and none of the stops made it worth it. Read on to see why you DON’T want to book this Cairns tour.
Pick up + Bus Ride to Port Douglas
The tour bus picked us up bright and early at 7 am. After picking up at a couple of other hotels in Cairns and up the road in Palm Cove, we were on our way to Port Douglas. The drive was along the scenic Captain Cook Highway, a windy road along the ocean with absolutely breathtaking views. And I was miserable the entire time. At this point it was my fault, I had a bit too much to drink the night before (hostel life, oops). If you don’t listen to anything else I say in this post, listen to this: do NOT go on this tour hungover, just don’t.
After one of the rougher bus rides of my life, we finally arrived in Port Douglas and picked up even more people. The bus was now jammed pack. There wasn’t a seat open and we had hardly any foot room. And on top of that, our bus driver kept complaining about the “shit pick-up schedule” he had received and how behind schedule. I kid you not, he probably mentioned the terrible pick-up schedule 50 times over the course of the day.
Rainforest Wildlife Habitat
Our first stop of the day was the Rainforest Wildlife Habitat. The park was really cool, there was a lot of open area with the animals to roam free, and plenty of beautiful birds flying overhead. There are a couple of different areas that you could walk through and see kangaroos, cassowaries, wallabies, etc. It was really beautifully laid out, and I did enjoy this portion of the Cairns tour.
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After an hour at the wildlife park, we headed towards Mosman Gorge. I had seen the incredible Barron Gorge the day before so I was expecting something amazing! We pull up to the visitor center and head to yet another bus to take us up the gorge. Once there, because we were running behind, we only got 20 minutes to walk around and explore the area. There weren’t any massive cliffs or waterfalls or anything… at least not from the very limited amount of trail we were able to explore. The river was beautiful and the forest great, but we hardly had any time to take it all in. Also, in the tour package, it said we were supposed to have a “guided walk” which never happened; our guide just let us loose and told us to be back in 20.
Bus Ride to Cape Tribulation
After our flyby hike of Mosman Gorge, we were brought back down the mountain and got back into our cramped bus. I had gotten over my hangover and was hungry… it was at that exact moment that our tour guide piped up and proceeded to tell us that our next stop (aka lunch) was still a 2-hour bus ride. So there we go, setting off 2 hours further north away from Cairns. We completely skipped out on going to the Alexandra Lookout (which we were supposed to), something I had really looked forward to. Just look at this view:
After crossing over the Daintree River by ferry, we came to the worst part of the whole day: Our tour guide decided that the best place to try and make up for lost time (read: drive ridiculously fast) was on the narrowest, windiest, and steepest part of the entire drive. Allow me to be dramatic for a sec, the curves were like being on a rollercoaster — you were either slammed against the window or slammed against the person next to you. There were a couple of people at the back of the bus that were pretty close to losing their lunch (so to speak since it was 1:30 and we still hadn’t had ours).
Lunch + Exploring Cape Tribulation
Finally, we arrived at The Cape Tribulation Beach House, which turned out to be a kind of run-down looking resort. I had ordered the Kangaroo Steak, per the guides suggestion, and nearly had to break out a saw to cut through it was so overdone.
Unfortunately, it was a very gross and overcast day, so walking along Cape Tribulation bay wasn’t all that enjoyable. The tour company had no fault in that obviously, but it just added more to the already less than stellar day. The beach was beautiful though and made for good shell/rock looking.
Daintree River for a Crocodile and Wildlife Cruise
On the way back to Cairns we had a planned stop at the Daintree River for a Crocodile and Wildlife Cruise. We had been warned by the guide about a hundred times to not go in the river or ocean because of the crocodiles. But sure enough, a Chinese man that didn’t speak any English started wading into the water at the river for god knows why. Our guide freaked out and started yelling at him (fair enough) and his son who was supposed to have translated everything to him. That’s where it should’ve stopped. But out guide continued to mock and call this man an idiot and cursing him to the rest of us… knowing he couldn’t speak English. It was a very uncomfortable thing to witness. Not mention EXTREMELY unprofessional of the guide.
By this point, I was so done being on this tour and just wanted to skip this cruise and be back at the hostel. But, it turned out to be really great and my probably my favorite part of the day. Our cruise captain was really knowledgeable about everything, and managed to snag us two croc sightings! The views on the river were great too.
Bus Ride Back to Cairns
After the cruise, we boarded the bus and headed back towards home. Again, we were supposed to stop at Rex Lookout, but our guide didn’t even mention it and I guess we just drove on past. I’m really disappointed because this also looks beautiful and a great photo opportunity:
After an hour’s drive, then multiple drop-offs in 2 different cities, then another hour drive, we finally made it back to our hostel. Total time on the bus for the whole day? Almost over 9 hours. Port Douglas, Mosman Gorge, and Cape Tribulation are all great places that you should visit, just not all in one jam-packed day. My advice would be to stay up in Port Douglas for a night or two and visit them from there.
Overall, my 3-day package was great. I loved The Great Barrier Reef and Kuranda Village tours, I just don’t recommend the 3rd-day of the Cairns Tour. There is plenty more to do in Cairns instead that would be better options: Fitzroy Island, Bungee Jump, Botanical Gardens, etc.
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