TROPICAL QUEENSLAND

Romance bloomed between my Dutchie and I just as autumn rolled in, so we spent our first few months together in the midst of winter. In those early days of dating we dreamed of spending some time together in the sunshine, somewhere warm and unfamiliar. We live by the sea on the southern coast of Australia where the water is literally freezing in the winter. Snuggled up in bed one chilly night, on a whim we booked some flights and a gorgeous resort in Port Douglas.

Although I am Australian I have never travelled that far north before, so it was equally as exotic for me as it was for my Dutchman. The moment we stepped off the plane the humid air kissed our cheeks and holiday mode switched on. We had absolutely no trouble adjusting to the heavenly temperatures and weather forecast of endless sunshine, just like the old Queensland Tourism commercial used to say, beautiful one day, perfect the next. 

Apart from the amazing weather, a great reason to travel to Port Douglas and Cairns during winter is that you can snorkel the Great Barrier Reef without a stinger suit. No fixed dates are set in place for stinger season as Mother Nature does change her mind, but as a general rule the marine stingers are in full force between November and May. Many of the beaches have stinger nets in place to protect swimmers in the most popular beaches, such as Four Mile Beach, Palm Cove, Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach, Kewarra Beach, and Ellis Beach etc. Be warned, the stinger suits are not particularly flattering and come in all sorts of hideous colours, so if you want to avoid wearing an ugly neon stinger suit you are best to book your travel between May and November.

Port Douglas is 70km from Cairns with perfect access to two special World Heritage sites, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. We planned a few trips during our stay to make the most of this special destination. I usually prefer the mountains over a beach holiday, but this holiday was very special. The reef was magical and I mean that literally. As soon as you attach your snorkel and put your head underwater you discover a completely serene world of amazing coral, giant clams that open and close as you pass by, entire rainbows of different fish species, sea shells with eyes and legs, and even a friendly reef shark or two. I have never been so overcome by the beauty of the sea, which I usually perceive to be this dark and violent force of nature. It was so wonderful to experience the Great Barrier Reef with my boyfriend and to make some beautiful memories snorkelling together in paradise.

We also rented a car and drove to Cape Tribulation through the tropical Daintree Rainforest. The Daintree is 1200 square kilometres of absolutely perfect white sand beaches, clear waters, and lush green rainforest that was secluded except for ourselves and millions of little sand-bubbler crabs. And of course, no visit to the Daintree would be complete without a stop at Cape Tribulation, the headland named by Captain James Cook after his ship hit the reef and needed emergency repair. The reef is now known as Endeavour Reef, named after his ship The Endeavour.

We had a seafood lunch on the beach in a little cafe and enjoyed driving from spot to spot, each beach more beautiful than the one before. There is so much to see in the Daintree with reef trips departing from Cape Tribulation, 4WD tours, jungle surfing, kayaking, crocodile cruises, hiking, horse riding. We mostly sunbaked on the beach and enjoyed the sunshine and magnificent views, but I would definitely consider staying a couple of nights in the Daintree next time.

We had countless wonderful adventures during our stay in Port Douglas. We ate plenty of fresh seafood, swam everyday, visited a butterfly house, and took a romantic sunset cruise. My favourite memory was the night we cooked a barbecue on the sand that was not planned in harmony with the rising of the tide. As the water rapidly neared our picnic set up we rushed madly to rescue our dinner from drowning with lots of giggles. It was one of those magical evenings that you simply cannot replicate in a fancy restaurant or a luxury hotel. We star gazed, sipped French champagne sent to us from family in Holland, and had a lovely moonlit walk hand in hand. It was a truly romantic holiday, one that I will always cherish and the first of many travel experiences together.

We stayed at the Sea Temple, a gorgeous resort with a swimming pool that circles the whole property. We had a spa suite with a balcony and a giant king size bed. The Sea Temple is a stunning resort and I am so grateful to have been offered a fantastic industry rate that guided our decision to stay there. In retrospect we would consider staying somewhere a little more secluded and closer to the ocean, but this is just a personal reflection. The Sea Temple is a real haven for families as there are so many different room types, villas and multi story apartments to cater to larger groups. The Sea Temple is also a perfect resort for parents who want to unwind and drink cocktails by the pool while the kids splash around close by. Within hours of arriving home to freezing cold Melbourne I was dreaming of the Sea Temple and wishing I could return on the next available flight.

The only regret I have was reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn the whole time. The book is a brilliant page turner, but it infiltrated my dreams and gave me warped nightmares. I would not recommend reading such a dark suspense thriller while on a romantic escape with your boyfriend. Maybe something by Jane Austen is better for the next trip. Otherwise, our holiday was pure tropical perfection – two very happy lovebirds indeed.

 

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