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World on a Shoestring A beginnger's guide to traveling around the world...as written by beginners...

Cairns Can!

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 8 April 2007 | Views [2263]

Whoever lost paradise, no worries, we found it.  I'm not sure where you lost track of it, but we found it on the northeast coast of Queensland.  And, since it didn't have any tags or a contact number, we've adopted it as our own.

The recipe for perfect only calls for a few ingredients:  heaps of sunshine, one cup of pristine beach, a couple sticks of fun, some slices of accommodating accommodation, and free food.  The amounts of each ingredient may vary according the chef, but if you mix them just right, you should Cairns (pronounced "Cans), Australia.


Don't be fooled by its small size; the little beach town has mounds of potential.  Gen's coupon sleuthing paid off once again, and we found rather cheap accommodation at a nice, out-of-the-way hostel called JJ's Backpackers.  Though we never actually met JJ, we figure he's got to be one of the nicest guys we've never met as every room in his hostel includes free breakfast, coffee and tea all day, and free dinner every night at a local restaurant!  There is no better way to win a backpacker's heart than free food.  With our stomachs full of free food each day and night, we had plenty of energy (and a little extra cash) to spend.

Because Cairns is a standard jumping off point for most travelers' east coast adventures, there's an overwhelming number of travel agencies offering an overwhelming number of activities at a broad range of prices.  But, once again, thanks to Gen's sleuthing, we had our minds made up before we arrived, and solidified our plans quickly (and economically) with Travel Bugs, who were kind enough to throw in MORE free food AND free internet; God bless them. 

With adventure in our future and lazy days in our present, we spent our down time in Cairns lounging by the free lagoon in the center of town.  Because the ocean waters can be dangerous this time of year (sharks and killer jellyfish, literally), many towns have manmade lagoons and public pools for residents and travelers.  But, the penultimate lagoon is Cairns's:  right on the beach, and in the center of town, this pool never drops below 27 degrees Celsius, and always has space for everyone. 

But our days were not all lazy.  We did manage to squeeze into our hectic schedule of sun-bathing and reading a long day of snorkeling at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World:  the Great Barrier Reef.  


Ocean Spirit tours offers a one day snorkeling/diving adventure in the Great Barrier Reef that includes, you guessed it, free food and champagne!  What kind of backpackers would we be if we turned down this incredible offer?  So we spent a beautiful day diving at the reef and hanging out on sand islands.  I even got to do a free SCUBA dive!

And as if Cairns knew Gen and me intimately, the night before our bus south, we found a free outdoor cinema showing “Alexander” and enjoyed a few beers under Cairns’ night sky.  Point of note:  Cairns is home to some thousands of flying foxes:  these are bats the size of small dogs…or perhaps small, flying dogs the size of giant bats.  Either way, every night, as the sun lays to rest, the bats come out for feeding.  Literally thousands can be seen crossing the sky as it settles from the yellow and orange fires of dusk, to the bruised purples and blacks of nightfall.  If we didn’t know any better, we’d have thought we were in a bad vampire movie:  picture Batman’s lair unleashed.  It is quite a sight to see.


Tags: Beaches & sunshine

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