Cairns is pretty much the central point for everything in the northern part of the East Coast. This is where most of left from to go to the Great Barrier Reef, and also where we left from to head up to the rainforest, while others left to go to Alice Springs. You also have the chance to try some sky diving, walk around down town, or do just about anything else. The great part is there's a shuttle going from the hotel into town every hour.
Our first full day we took the bus over to Port Douglas, the launching point for our catamaran out to the outer Great Barrier Reef. On the way out there we met with the SCUBA diving instructors and got a crash course in diving. Once you actually get out to the reef you get a few hours to snorkel, dive, eat lunch, and relax. If you can fit it all in. Oh yeah, and you can rent these nifty blue stinger suits (modeled by Jelena and Colleen), which are supposed to protect you from the tiny jellyfish. Although it was the off season for them when we were there, and the number of jellyfish that could hurt you is pretty small anyway, so I decided to look normal and skip the suit... but it's up to you! The day we were there was one of two days during the year that there was a negative tide. At about 2pm, the coral was exposed above the ocean since the tide was so low. It was amazing being out there and seeing the coral pop up. In addition to that, while we took the semi-submersible around they kept raving on how the water was the clearest they'd seen it all year. I guess we hit on a good day. We saw just about everything down there, from fish to turtles and all types of coral imaginable. The snorkeling was amazing, and while we went SCUBA diving we were able to touch the giant clam, and see the clown fish in the anemonae (which is actually pretty sticky once you touch it).
While in Cairns we also went out to PJ O'Brien's for some drinks, and then over to another place afterwards where they had a Coyote Ugly competition (which, for those of you not familiar with the movie, is where you dance on the bar). We
ended up with two girls and one guy competing, which made it interesting. Who knew that these guys were really closet bartop dancers? We also went to the backpackers place for dinner the one night, where we also got to celebrate Dave's birthday. Apparently it's tradition there to dance on the tables once it turns into a bar, and the entire top floor is set up with flat tables and even places to put your drinks above the tables. It was everyone's last night together as a group, and many people ended up staying out until really late. Just beware about the contests that they hold there... you may just want to sit back and watch instead of participate...
The final morning we finally had to say goodbye to so many people, but those of us heading up to the rainforest had to leave pretty early to get everything in, and everyone going to Alice Springs had a plane to catch.