Cairns and Northern Beaches, Australia
Overall -- Great!
Day 1 was at the Green Island. We went on a giant boat along with about 300 other folks but the boat is big enough to not make it seem crowded. The green island is gorgeous. I don't swim but I still went into the water and was able to see beautiful corals and fish. You can even see them from the boardwalk itself! The semi-submarine is definitely worth it! The glass bottom boat was nice but not as awesome as the semi-submarine. Overall I had a wonderful relaxing day and would highly recommend it. That said, if you are a swimmer and are looking for a less crowded place to snorkel I recommend you check out Fitzeroy Island instead. My friends went there separately and snorkeled with about 5 other people and they had a great time.
Day 2: The Kuranda Rainforest -- the scenic railway is beautiful. You just sit back and enjoy the relaxing slow-paced ride with the forest all around you. The train stops at a beautiful picturesque waterfall location as well. Afterwards we headed to the Kuranda village and it was a nice place to walk around with some local markets for souvenir shopping. The food in the village wasn't that great. Then we were driven to the Rainforest Nature Park -- this was the most disappointing/boring part of the day. Since I had gone to another wildlife park near Sydney, this one paled in comparison and was quite smelly. However, the day picked up again with the Skyrail ride that takes you on top of the forest canopy. Gorgeous views, lots of photo ops, and two stops along the way to see the waterfall and the rainforest.
I think if I could have bought these tours separately without the 2-day package, I would have been more satisfied and perhaps saved some money (this was an expensive tour!). Both were worth it in their own capacity but I would try to find a separate deal, especially since the two days are run by two different companies anyway.
The blue mountains are breathtaking. The Aboriginal show as well as the wildlife park were very enjoyable aspects. Luckily, we got to see the mountains a few days before the wildfires took over. The tour guide was fantastic and informative. He made this tour memorable. You can purchase this tour with or without lunch. I would recommend purchasing it WITHOUT lunch as the restaurant that provides lunch with the tour has terrible food and service. The bus stops at a cute town and there are plenty of other restaurants to eat at. I wish I had done that instead of eating my disappointing lunch. Aside from this small hiccup -- everything else about the tour was amazing!!
This was a fantastic tour and well worth the money. The tour guide was friendly and informative. The penguins at the end of the day are the star of this tour -- super adorable and so close. They walk along the boardwalk where you can just stand and watch groups of them come and just their adorable selves. However, in addition to the penguin parade, the visit to the winery (wine + cheese tasting), several stops at various attractions at Philip Island make this trip worth every penny. My friend and I had a great time!
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