9 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

9 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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Route & dates

9 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Sydney
Fly + shuttle:  6​h 45​min
1
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
bus:  1​h 15​min
2
Cairns
— 3 nights
+2
Fly + foot + ferry:  4​h 45​min
3
Airlie Beach
— 2 nights
+2
bus + taxi + Fly:  6​h
End: Melbourne

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.
Spend the 6th (Mon) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. There's lots more to do: see exotic creatures in open habitats at a safari tour, learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, stop by With Sugar, and enjoy the sand and surf at Four Mile Beach.

To find other places to visit, traveler tips, ratings, and other tourist information, refer to the Port Douglas trip builder app .

Sydney to Port Douglas is an approximately 7-hour combination of flight and shuttle. You can also drive; or do a combination of train and bus. In January, Port Douglas is a bit warmer than Sydney - with highs of 37°C and lows of 28°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 8th (Wed) early enough to catcht the bus to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Wildlife Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Mossman Gorge Centre, Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Safaris
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

3
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.
Take a break from Cairns with a short trip to Palm Cove Beach in Palm Cove, about 32 minutes away. Next up on the itinerary: see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, have some family-friendly fun at Laserfun, stroll through Esplanade Boardwalk, and enjoy some diversion at Esplanade Lagoon Pool.

To see traveler tips, other places to visit, photos, and tourist information, read Cairns road trip planner .

Take a bus from Port Douglas to Cairns in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. In January, plan for daily highs up to 37°C, and evening lows to 28°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 11th (Sat) early enough to travel to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Palm Cove Beach
Find places to stay Jan 8 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk
Nature & Wildlife Tours

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.
Start off your visit on the 12th (Sun): take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour, then zoom along the surf with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, and then relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas. Here are some ideas for day two: stop by Beach Book Boutique, kick back and relax at Airlie Beach Lagoon, and then see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

To find other places to visit, reviews, photos, and more tourist information, read our Airlie Beach route planner.

Getting from Cairns to Airlie Beach by combination of flight and ferry takes about 5 hours. Other options: do a combination of flight and bus; or drive. In January, daytime highs in Airlie Beach are 34°C, while nighttime lows are 28°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Mon) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Wildlife
Find places to stay Jan 11 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Waterskiing & Jetskiing
Scuba & Snorkeling
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon

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