After one missed flight, I made it to Cairns (pronounced “cans”) Thursday afternoon. The airport is small but sufficient. My Croatian-born cabbie grew up in Sydney but has called Cairns home for about a decade, and immediately I could see why. The mountains and foliage reminded me immediately of Hawaii, but a lot less humid.
I checked in to the Nomads Cairns, a delightful hostel I picked because it came
highly rated on TripAdvisor. My double room was sparse- after spending the week prior at a five-star hotel in Bangkok, I was in for a moment of culture shock. Instead of a uniformed porter, an Aussie surfer helped me lug my enormous suitcase up the steps (it’s on 23 kilos! He quipped, noticing the airline tag).
Showered and refreshed after, well, a long day of flying, I loaded into the shuttle van for downtown Cairns. I haven’t been anywhere like this place. It has about half the gravitas of Charleston, SC but maintains the beach bum sensibilities of Myrtle Beach.
The Night Market was my first stop- a brilliant marketing to target the shoppers who spent the day on the reef.
Walking down the main drag, there are plenty of open-scape bars. I saddled up and ordered my first Pure Blonde. Night one can’t be a big party night for me; after 20 hours of travel, I have to be up bright and early for the heart of my trip: scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef!