Making the most of this beautiful region means exploring land and sea with the freedom to see the best of both. Let us take you on the ultimate Far North Queensland adventure. Here we describe a possible holiday itinerary of around 10 days that incorporates some of our favourite places and things to do, including the amazing Barrier Reef with 5 nights onboard Aroona.
For this example we will start the day in Cairns on a Thursday…. On this first day explore the local attractions and shopping, visit the esplanade and depending on your interests, options could include Cairns Museum, art galleries and/or the Australian Armor and Artillery Museum. The evening in Cairns has plenty of options for dining, bars and nightlife then rest up for an early start the next day.
Friday morning head to the Iconic Rusty’s Markets for breakfast and to gather some local produce. Later in the day drive west, headed for the Atherton Tablelands. A range of accommodation options are available in scenic spots, for example the wonderful Mt Quincan Lodge on the edge of an ancient volcano crater. The picturesque town of Yungaburra has great options to stay the night as well.
A full day Saturday exploring the countryside, rainforest and clear lakes is well worth it, and possible stopovers include an array of waterfalls plus other natural attractions like the Curtain Fig, Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine. Plenty of options are available for food lovers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, hikers and much more. Check out the dairy, chocolate and coffee producers plus award winning spirits at Mt Uncle Distillery.
On your fourth day, head north towards Mareeba and Mt Molloy and then down the range to Port Douglas, where on a Sunday the local markets are held. After checking out the markets and Macrossan Street, drive north to the Daintree and visit the village and river with crocodile spotting, barramundi fishing and more options available. The Daintree Eco Lodge is a good accommodation option for the evening, or if possible head over the river and visit Cape Tribulation where you can stay at a lodge or cabin where the ancient rainforest meets the sea.
Explore the many options in the Daintree / Cape Tribulation region, heading south through the day. Along the way you can stop at Mossman, Port Douglas or Palm Cove before arriving back Yorkeys Knob Marina just north of Cairns for your first night aboard the Aroona. That evening the crew of Aroona will make sure you are comfortable and well fed before heading to sea and getting out to the reef while you rest.
On the morning of your 6th day you can wake up on the reef! Clear blue water full teeming with life awaits. A day of snorkelling, diving, fishing or perhaps kite-boarding? A magnificent sand cay on the reef is a great stopover for lunch, or maybe the ideal spot to watch the sun go down over the mainland with no one else in sight. That evening relax after a great day as our chef and hostess look after you.
Day seven, at the remote northern reefs. The ribbon reefs stretch along the edge of Australia’s continental shelf and there are far more kilometres of reef than people visiting them. Your crew can guide you to the best spots to snorkel and dive, or use our tenders to lure and fly fish on rarely fished reefs. When the weather allows you can drift along the outer reef drop-offs, with vertical coral wall below, a shallow reef edge one side and the open ocean the other.
Always accessible are the sandy lagoon areas, with some of the best coral and fish life on the planet just outside your floating home. For keen fisherman the evenings can also include deep sea fishing between the reefs in pursuit of Red Emperor and Nannygai which are great eating. At the right time of year a visit to the Ribbon Reefs in this northern section can also mean a good chance of swimming with Minke Whales! If possible this will add another dimension to the reef adventures of your ultimate adventure.
Day eight and chances are you can’t wait to do more snorkelling, diving, fishing, or other adventures in this beautiful region. The crew will help make the most of your time on the reef, and if it is ever too much, a comfortable corner, a book and a cold drink await you back on board the Aroona. On the evening of your 8th day a calm anchorage at Watsons Bay on Lizard Island is a great place to spend the night,.
Next morning we highly recommend an early start to climb to to historic ‘Cooks Look’ on the island’s highest point and a great vantage point. After walking back down a lovely sandy bay and reef awaits for a swim and snorkel. Explore around Lizard island for the day, or Aroona can take you to nearby reefs for more adventures including a visit to the famous ‘Cod Hole’.
Day ten, after breakfast a scenic flight from Lizard Island takes you over the reefs for one last look at this amazing part of the world, arriving back in Cairns Saturday afternoon.
This itinerary could easily be done the other way around as well, starting with a flight to Lizard Island before reef adventures with Aroona all the way back to Cairns, then a road trip!