Find out how we had a great weekend in Cairns Australia using the money we made from a garage sale!
Tiger Airways had a huge birthday sale on flights so we took advantage! We were quick enough to score return flights from Brisbane to Cairns for only $29 each way. Yes you are reading that correctly!
We still had kids at home so it could only be a short trip, but for $116 for the both of us, how could we resist?
The worst part was having to wait for 9 months to go on the trip!
We had a couple of things that we really wanted to do, and because we were only there for 2 ½ days and 2 nights we had to be quite organised. It was a short trip, but an amazing trip. I decided I have to share what we did and how we saved a fortune.
1. Dinner at a fancy restaurant
My partner and I love eating at posh restaurants, but we also love a bargain. We wanted to continue the theme on our romantic weekend away, so we searched for deals or coupons for nice restaurants in Cairns.
We found a deal on a site similar to Groupon that allowed us to buy a voucher for $69 and spend up to $150 on food and drinks in the restaurant.
We got dressed up and dined at the Pullman Cairns. Drinks were margaritas for me and red wine for Chris. We shared some tapas which were amazing, and then we shared a dessert of apple caramel crème brulee.
The food was sublime, the atmosphere was grand, and spending the evening with my love was wonderful.
2. Choose Somewhere Amazing to Stay
Cairns is a holiday destination for back packers, families, retirees, the wealthy and everything in between so there are many accommodation choices to suit a range of budgets.
We looked at a few hotels but nothing really stood out for us that were in our budget. It was meant to be a romantic weekend away, so staying in a backpacker’s hostel wasn’t what we really wanted to do on this trip.
I had looked at Airbnb previously when trying to assuage my wanderlust, dreaming of all the places I want to go to, developing pretend budgets; so I abandoned the hotel websites and went back to Airbnb.
And wow did I find the perfect accommodation! An old boat built in WWII that has been somewhat restored, although still rustic, that stays docked in the marina. See the photo below? That’s her the MV Betty Pearl! It was perfect on board and it was in a central location.
Cost of boat accommodation was under $300 for 2 nights. (Find out why we think Airbnb is Airmazing)
3. Do a Trip Out to the Reef
We were doing this trip on a budget so no couples only flights out to the reef for us! Instead we had to ‘rough it’ on a fantastic catamaran with 50ish other people. It’s not exactly romantic on the trip out there, especially if you get seasick like me but on our trip out and back we hung out on the top deck in the sun and watched migrating whales and pretended it was just us.
When we were actually snorkelling however, it felt like it was just me and Chris and the wonderful life beneath the surface.
I had never been snorkelling before, and I will never forget putting my face under for the first time and the amazement I felt. It really is hard to describe the difference between what is above and below.
We spent hours following fish, checking out coral, and just being together. It was an absolutely magical thing to do as a couple.
Our trip cost $195 per person and included a great lunch.
4. Get high, then take a trip… on a train
Taking the Skyway Rainforest Cableway up to Kuranda is an absolute must but you have to do it in style so it is a little bit romantic. We booked early and directly with the company and were able to upgrade to Diamond tickets. According to the website these upgrades can only be booked directly with the operator, not with any other tour company.
Was it worth the extra money? YES!
There were hundreds of people lining up to get on board and some cable cars were quite cramped. However we were ushered through the lines, and got to sit in a cabin with a glass bottom. They sell limited Diamond tickets so we only had to share with another couple during one leg of the trip.
There are several stations along the way where you can jump off to explore the surrounding areas and then jump back on to continue your trip up to Kuranda.
After you’ve seen the vastness of the area from above, you will arrive in Kuranda where you can enjoy a lovely lunch with your love and enjoy the outlook over a quaint country town. From there, you can stroll through town, perhaps with an ice cream, while exploring the lovely shops and markets in the main street.
After your visit in town head back to the train station ready for your return to Cairns via the incredible feat of engineering known as the Kuranda Scenic Railway. The journey takes you through 37 kilometres of incredible scenery including cliff edges, waterfalls, tunnels, bridges and rainforest.
You definitely will not regret the time it takes.
There is also intermittent commentary giving details of the railway and how it was built.
We spent $240 for the both of us which included pick up from the marina where we were staying, our Diamond tickets for the Skyway Rainforest Cableway that took us to Kuranda, and our return trip back to Cairns on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.
5. Enjoy the foreshore in the evening
The actual beach in Cairns is not all that pretty, when there tide goes out there is just mud flats and the threat of being eaten by a crocodile. However, the city has overcome this with an incredible waterfront area that stretches for kilometres.
There are walkways, and bikeways, restaurants, BBQs, sculptures and the crowning glory of the swimming lagoon.
The views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest are amazing, and the whole area is alive with people enjoying it. People walking their dogs, kids swimming, fitness groups, families playing football and having BBQs… it really has a special feel about it.
With as many people as there were, we were able to find a nice little quiet spot to enjoy the pizza we picked up from a cute little Italian place (and it was cheap because it was Monday night!) and talk about our wonderful, romantic Cairns weekend.
Cairns is an easy city to make your way around especially if you are staying close to the action on the waterfront. The airport is not far from the centre of town, some people even walk it! But we chose to use Uber to and from the airport and it was about $10 each time, and the wait was between 5-10minutes
All up our Cairns trip cost just under $1300. Some people would say that is not a budget weekend. And of course that’s true. We could have gone real bare bones and spent less than half that amount. But we wanted to enjoy ourselves and enjoy what Cairns has to offer in the short time we were there. We could have spent our entire budget on one night’s accommodation very easily!
So get on it! Keep an eye out for flight deals. Check out Airbnb. Look for food and attraction deals for your desired location. And start booking!
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