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Cairns & Arlie, Australia

Flying into Cairns was a cool experience as I could see the Great Barrier Reef from the plane since the water was so clear and once we arrived closer to shore, there were high vibrant green mountains, felt like I was in a movie. It was a breezy sunny afternoon, very humid compared to New Zealand. I ordered an Uber, not realizing the Juicy rental car pick up location was so far away, but thankfully close to my hostel. The after-hour pick up was plain and simple, literally the easiest pick up service and was able to park right out front my hostel to unpack. My first impression of this hostel was that it’s definitely a party hostel, very young party backpackers already drinking in the early afternoon. Thankfully I was able to change my room to a quieter room with only 1 other person as opposed to 6, and then drove to the botanical gardens to walk around and explore my surroundings. Little did I know there were TONs of mosquitos and I was NOT prepared for what happened when I arrived. First of all, the gardens were closing within 5 minutes of me parking there, so I walked around the surrounding trails to the garden and didn’t have bug spray so I was getting eaten alive, but really needed to exercise. There were plenty of people walking around, chatting and working out, it was mid-late afternoon. I walked around for 30ish minutes and then headed to the coast near my hostel to see where the marina was for my cruise the next day. It was sunset, there were tons of people wondering about and either working out along the boardwalk at one of the jungle gyms, running, dressed up and going to dinner. I could already tell there was a lot of diversity, from locals to tourists and a wide range between age groups. I decided to stroll down the boardwalk to the restaurant/bar the Uber driver recommended to check out the vibes and didn’t realize how far it was, and there were tons of restaurants around, a lot fancier and louder than I would expect for a Wednesday night. Anyway, I ran back to my car since I wanted to get back and eat something before it got to be too late since I was tired and needed sleep, so I showered and then decided to just go back to that night market I had seen on my walk. I ordered an Asian noodle dish and tried going to bed around 10pm. The other person in my room arrived around 11pm and I thought it was a boy at first because I was half asleep but it was a girl (the next day I saw her after coming back from the cruise, just with really short hair) - and it should have been an all-girls dorm. And again, I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have wanted and had to wake up early for the cruise I booked to check out the coral. I got the breakfast that was provided by the hostel which was the typical toast and cereal so I made a peanut butter toast and some yogurt and frosty flakes and then this guy came up and chatted with me from the Netherlands and we talked for a bit and then I headed to the cruise. It was a beautiful sunny day, there were a lot of families, couples, and some single people which I chatted a bit with this Asian guy from SF but originally from China. Then I took a nap on the 1 hour cruise to Green Island and then went off to chill on the beach before my semi-submarine boat ride, and then snorkeled a bit on my own (gear was provided). It was awesome seeing all the fish from the semi-submarine boat (since I couldn't scuba dive from my perforated ear) and a glimpse of a turtle and of course snorkeling was neat seeing the most colorful fish and coral and in the clear blue ocean and white sand - a magical and fun-filled day.

I arrived back at my hostel just in time for happy hour and met this young 21-year-old girl from NYC and then this guy from Belgium who had a friend visiting from Honduras and we all chatted for a bit. I decided to go on a run and when I got back, there was a new person in our dorm from Austria who had just arrived in Australia. We chatted for a bit and decided to go to the free pizza night together that the hostel was hosting at some bar nearby. It was a fun night, we met up with these guys from the UK and then chatted with them and these other guys all night, ate the free pizza and free champagne (girls night) and then called it a night by 2am to wake up for a 7 hour drive to Airlie beach to do another boat tour the following day to the Whitsundays/Whitehaven islands. I wasn’t too hungover, and was able to check out when I wanted to as well as grab some breakfast for the long drive. It was actually a nice drive, not too long, but I got tired at the end when it started to rain the last 30 minutes which was complete downpour flooding and kind of scary since I wasn’t used to my rental or conditions. I made sure to drive slowly and saw some cars pull over so I wasn’t sure if I should as well, but decided to stick with the car in front of me and get to my destination slowly. I was happy when it stopped around the time I arrived at my next hostel which was another very backpacker vibe hostel that offered $1.50 sausages for dinner haha. I hadn’t planned dinner so I showered and ordered a sausage and beer and started chatting with some people hanging outside together. I met this one girl from California who was nice to talk to and we were both pretty tired so decided to go to bed and go out the following night instead (which was fun). I had another private room, shared bathroom, and was happy to get some good sleep.

It turned out that these other 2 girls from Germany at the hostel were also on the same boat tour as me so after eating some breakfast (peanut butter toast and cereal), we all headed to ZigZag boat tour down at the marina. First we tried on wet suits and signed up and then we were all off on this island snorkeling tour with about 20 other people. The speed boat we were on was super fast and rocked us like a roller coaster at first which was super fun and then we went off to snorkel near one of the 42 islands where I saw the most colorful coral I have ever seen before. It was very neat exploring the coral reef and fish around there and really enjoyed Whitehaven beach which is where they filmed one of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The Whitsandays has the whitest and purest sand in the world so I decided to exfoliate my skin with it and play around in the water before we were off again to another snorkeling spot. I had chatted with this girl from Israel and her and her husband (from Australia) for a bit about my travels and South America, etc. during lunch and the second snorkeling spot was very neat again, but was getting tired by mid-afternoon. I also saw my first kangaroo on one of the islands - super random but it made me excited! My sunglasses had broke that I had just bought 5 days before and so I stopped to get a new pair on my way back to the hostel. I was planning to practice yoga but couldn’t work up the energy. Anyway, I took a 30 minute nap and then showered and met up with Kate (that girl from California I met the night prior). I ordered a sausage and beer again and we played trivia at the hostel and then headed out to the bar scene together. Along the way, we were encountered by an older drunken Aussie babbling on and on about the changes that have occurred in this town and finally got out of that convo after going into one of the bars. There too, we were bombarded by drunken Aussies trying to talk and ask us many questions. We ordered some french fries from McDonalds on our way back to the hostel around 11pm, were in bed by midnight and had to be up quite early for a 5.5 hour drive to Rockhampton. My last morning in Arlie I stopped at a nice cafe along the beach area before heading out and listened to some podcasts as I hit the road.

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