Ah, our favorite part of the trip! Beach time! We were in Sydney, but I put those pictures with our last night in Sydney, so I'll get back to that. We got up for an early flight from Sydney to Cairns (pronounced "cans") which took us 3 hours. Cairns is in Queensland on the north east coast of Australia. Once we get to Cairns and finally saw some sunshine, we got our rental car and drove about an hour north to Port Douglas. Cairns is a really popular place, so it's a bigger city with more to do there, but Port Douglas was perfect for us! There's a beach and a main strip of restaurants and shops that we could walk to from our condo. Everything was really nice and seemed new or well kept. We didn't know this at the time, but found out that a lot of famous people vacation in Port Douglas because it's so quaint and private. Lady Gaga had been there like two weeks before us. Haha.
While here we walked around a bit and visited the Daintree Rainforest (which is a World Heritage Sight - the Blue Mountains are too) on our first day. The rainforest didn't really have much to offer, but it was cool to see. It was really easy to find places with good food for lunch and dinners. Since we had a condo we went to the grocery store and got some things for breakfast and snacks. I'm a big cereal fan, so I wanted to get cereal for breakfast. There weren't many normal seeming options, but I did find Multi-grain Cheerios which I like. Well, they did NOT taste the same at all! Tony thought they were so gross he didn't even eat them. I still did, but they weren't my favorite! Anyways, Saturday we spent the day at the beach and pool, went running, and just relaxed. It was kind of disappointing at the beach because they had a jellyfish net up where you could only swim in a certain area. We did find out that there is a species of jellyfish there than can kill you, so we didn't complain much after that. I guess we were there at the end of jellyfish season and a few had still been spotted in the area, so they had to keep the net up. We also found a gelato place that was awesome! Tony was addicted! We even went twice in one day. The lady working remembered us...embarrassing!
The big highlight of this part of the trip was Sunday when we went to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkeled! We were picked up on Sunday morning and taken to the marina to board the catamaran that would take us out. The boat holds 12 people, but we got lucky and there were only 4 of us on this trip! The other couple that we were with was really friendly and we chatted with them a lot. They were from Sydney. We even ran into them that night on our way to dinner! It's a small town! Anyways, we were on the boat for several hours. We were kind of worried that the weather was going to stay cloudy all day, but it didn't. We were able to ride on the front of the boat on the "trampoline", but we got soaked a few times and took a break from that. Once we got to the reef, the clouds were gone and we were ready to snorkel. It really seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere. You couldn't see any land, there were waves and patches of the most blue water. We wore wet suits because the water was a little cold and it was windy. It also keeps you from getting stung by jellyfish if they happen to be around. We didn't see any though. We jumped in the water and it was the most unbelievable coral reef I have ever seen, and I feel like I've snorkeled in quite a few places (Cayman, Hawaii, Cozumel, Oman). It was just coral on top of more coral with all different colors and shapes. There were giant clams, tons of different kinds of fish, and everything was just living, no dead coral or anything like that. We floated around for a few hours out there, but I could have stayed all day! We saw Nemo fish too! They were so cute and tiny. We took a lot of pictures with an underwater camera, but they don't do it justice at all. We are trying to photoshop them to make the colors brighter, and then we'll post those. We also had lunch and snacks on the boat during the snorkeling part and got to go back in the water after that. Then we had a relaxing boat right back to shore. The wind was pretty strong that day, and we were able to sail rather than use the motor on the boat which I guess is pretty cool. It's just crazy to think that there are tons of places just like that all along the Great Barrier Reef. It's just huge and not close to shore like other places. It was a once in a lifetime experience even though I would go back in a second!
After we got back to shore, we got a gelato snack, relaxed a bit, and had some dinner and more gelato for dessert. That was our last night in Port Douglas. We had to drive back to Cairns in the morning to catch a flight back to Sydney. We joked on the drive that they should have a marathon here on the Australian Hwy 1 on the Pacific Ocean just like we did in California. It went right along the ocean with gorgeous views and hills just like at the marathon. Haha. I absolutely loved our time in Port Douglas. It's the just so relaxing, easy, and pretty there.