12 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

12 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Great Barrier Reef travel planner

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Route & dates

12 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Atlanta
Fly:  27​h
1
Cairns
— 2 nights
bus:  1​h 15​min
2
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
shuttle + Fly:  4​h
3
Whitsunday Island
— 1 night
bus:  45​min
4
Airlie Beach
— 2 nights
bus:  3​h 45​min
5
Townsville
— 2 nights
Fly:  27​h
End: Atlanta

2
nights
Cairns

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
Step out of Cairns to go to Palm Cove and see Spas, which is approximately 30 minutes away. The adventure continues: look for all kinds of wild species at Wildlife Areas, get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, take in the architecture and atmosphere at St Monica's Cathedral, and have fun at Esplanade Lagoon Pool.

To see where to stay, traveler tips, other places to visit, and tourist information, read Cairns trip itinerary builder site .

Atlanta, USA to Cairns is an approximately 27-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and train. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 15 hours traveling from Atlanta to Cairns. Traveling from Atlanta in December, things will get much hotter in Cairns: highs are around 88°F and lows about 73°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 24th (Tue) to allow time to take a bus to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Spas
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk
Esplanade Lagoon Pool ©
Esplanade Lagoon Pool

2
nights
Port Douglas

A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Kick off your visit on the 25th (Wed): discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour, get great views at Flagstaff Hill Lookout, then take an exotic tour of a safari tour, and finally stop by With Sugar. Here are some ideas for day two: explore and take pictures at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, and then relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas.

For reviews, where to stay, ratings, and other tourist information, use the Port Douglas road trip planning site .

Traveling by bus from Cairns to Port Douglas takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. In December in Port Douglas, expect temperatures between 88°F during the day and 73°F at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Thu) early enough to travel to Whitsunday Island.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Wildlife Outdoors Tours

Side Trip

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Safaris

1
night
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
Kick off your visit on the 27th (Fri): explore the activities along Hill Inlet and then stroll through Whitehaven Beach.

To find reviews, photos, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Whitsunday Island journey planning site .

You can do a combination of shuttle and flight from Port Douglas to Whitsunday Island in 4 hours. Other options are to do a combination of shuttle, flight, and bus; or take a train. In December, daily temperatures in Whitsunday Island can reach 89°F, while at night they dip to 69°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Fri) early enough to take a bus to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach

2
nights
Airlie Beach

Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
Kick off your visit on the 28th (Sat): stroll through Airlie Beach Lagoon and then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Keep things going the next day: take in the exciting artwork at Above & Below Photography Gallery, zoom along the surf with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, and then take a memorable tour with Tours.

To find reviews, other places to visit, ratings, and tourist information, you can read our Airlie Beach day trip app .

Take a bus from Whitsunday Island to Airlie Beach in an hour. Alternatively, you can ride a ferry. Traveling from Whitsunday Island in December, you can expect nighttime temperatures to be somewhat warmer in Airlie Beach, with lows of 75°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 29th (Sun) to allow time to take a bus to Townsville.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Waterskiing & Jetskiing
Scuba & Snorkeling
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon

2
nights
Townsville

Tucked snugly beneath a steep, craggy mount--known as Castle Hill--the vibrant city of Townsville is as picturesque as its backdrop.
Kick off your visit on the 30th (Mon): enjoy the sand and surf at The Strand and then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

To see reviews, photos, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read Townsville day trip app .

You can take a bus from Airlie Beach to Townsville in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and train. December in Townsville sees daily highs of 89°F and lows of 76°F at night. You'll have a few hours on the 31st (Tue) to wrap things up before traveling home.

Things to do in Townsville

Outdoors Wildlife Tours
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
The Strand ©
The Strand
Pinnacles Gallery ©
Pinnacles Gallery

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