Location: Cairns – QLD, Australia
Date: March 24 – March 31, 2017
Millions of people from all over the world descend upon Cairns every year to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Diving the Great Barrier Reef is what many people worldwide have on their bucket lists, myself included. But what I wasn’t expecting, was to fall in love.
I came to Cairns after visiting the big cities of Melbourne and Sydney, and I lived in New York City. I was used to a lot of action and a stimulating lifestyle. Cairns is the total opposite. I was uncomfortable at first, and bored. Very bored. Cairns is a tourist town, with the city consisting largely of restaurants, shops and travel agencies.
The Cairns Esplanade is where a lot of the action is. A beautiful walkway that winds with the ocean, a park (with a local pool) on the other side. Continuing through the park, away from the ocean, you enter the main streets of Cairns, which are filled with bustling restaurants, shops and the night markets. My first full day in Cairns, I woke up early and headed to the Esplanade pool.
I arrive an hour after the sun rises. The pool is still, the park is quiet and the day is already warm. I lay out my towel on a patch of grass that is partially shaded by a nearby palm tree and power on my Kindle. For the next few hours Cairns comes alive and the pool is filled with people of all ages. I read two books and step into the chilly Esplanade pool to cool off from the heat. After four hours, I decide it’s time to head back to my hostel to get out of the sun and heat. But it’s too late…
I’m as red as a tomato.
To beat the heat for the rest of the day (117 degrees Fahrenheit!) I decide to go to the movies. I walk there in a sweatshirt, in an attempt to salvage what was left of my skin. On my way home from the movies I stopped at the Woolworths to pick up some Aloe Vera. The saying is very true, the Australian sun is unforgiving!
Up to this point, I still wasn’t crazy about Cairns however. It wasn’t until I returned from my Great Barrier Reef dive that I really started to enjoy this little tourist town and the people in it.
Three days later I’m back in Cairns. Having just made new friends and checked an item off my bucket list, I’m in high spirits. That evening the majority of the dive crew and guests gather at a local restaurant for dinner and drinks. We exchange stories of travels, the crew tells us all about how they came to Cairns and all there is to do in the area. The night is great fun!
Over the next two days, I meet up with various people I had met on my dive for meals, drinks and just to hang out and explore Cairns. At some point during all of this was when I fell in love with Cairns and Australia. I think it has to do with the relaxed atmosphere, the people and the ocean – all things I didn’t have in New York. The Hudson is NOT the ocean ha! The people I met in Cairns were extremely nice and interesting, some were locals while others were not. I have kept in contact with many of them and we’ve talked about meeting up somewhere in the world in the future.
With all of this being said – when I enter Australia, Cairns is where I’m heading first. The plan is to spend Australia’s winter there. I want to dive, meet people from all over the world and spend winter somewhere warm 🙂
Side note: I highly recommend the delicious coffee at Cruze Coffee in Cairns!! So many delicious options to choose from.