Day 1: Departure from Cairns! Flying Foxes Everywhere!
I traveled from Chicago, Illinois to Hong Kong to Cairns, Australia. The flight was very long and had a few delays along the way, fortunately I arrived a day ahead of the actual trip just in case I missed any flights. I think I was in the air for 21 hours, which was not bad! When I did arrive in Cairns, Australia, I was greeted with warm, tropical air! Night was approaching and I grabbed a taxi to my hotel in downtown Cairns.
Cairns was like a city surrounded by a tropical rainforest on one side and an ocean on the other side. There was plenty of tourist activities to do in the area and many food and souvenir shops to look for gifts for friends and family. When I got to my hotel, I noticed a huge amount of squeaking and chirping in the trees and sky. These were not birds, but they were giant flying foxes!! I did not expect to see so many flying around Cairns! These massive flying fox bats filled the sky and were the entertainment for the night. The town was very busy, but not too crowded. I managed to get a good night sleep in the hotel and got ready for the next day. Here is a video of them: https://youtu.be/8uromNyrgSM
In the morning, I looked on the morning news and found out that four women rowed across the Pacific Ocean and were about to land in Cairns in one hour!! I decided to gather all my items and go to the wharf where they were supposed to arrive. I managed to grab breakfast, buy some souvenirs, and bird watch before the women rowed into harbor. When they did arrive, there were two helicopters in the air and a massive crowd gathered! There were camera people everywhere! It was an interesting site to see! The women sure looked happy to see land and human civilization again. My trip was going to leave in about a few hours and I decided to look for birds around in the area. There was a large public pool for anyone that was interested. There was a zoo, casino, and park in the downtown area for anyone who was interested in finding unique experiences before the actual trip.
(Some birds I have seen in Cairns, Australia. Pied Imperial Pigeon, Masked Lapwing, and Pacific Reef Heron) Banyan Trees were really common around the park areas. Great for shade!
I arrived at the tour ship, Coral Expeditions II, an hour early and I was able to board and find my room. The crew was very nice and offered water to myself and fellow tourists! When everyone boarded, we departed for Cooktown for our first adventure. During the departure, we were given the rundown of what to expect on the trip. You could even sign up for scuba lessons too. The actual certification was free for scuba diving, but each dive would cost $90.00 Australian dollars. A bit steep in price for me, but the people who did take that experience loved every second about the scuba experience.
Usually in the evenings, there was a lecture or movie for people to watch. There was an open bar that provided all kinds of drinks ranging from water to tea to soda to a variety of alcoholic beverages. The lookout area on the top deck provided a 360 degree view of the area. This would be a great area to relax and watch sunsets to view people snorkeling along the coral reef areas. You might be lucky to find some butterflies or birds that use the top deck of the ship for resting.
(The view leaving Cairns! A thunderstorm was seen over the mainland.)
The voyage to Cooktown went smoothly and the sea was almost dead calm. I did not have to worry about keeping my balance on the ship. The first evening meal was a huge seafood buffet where you could eat lobster, prawns, oysters, and red snapper. They were all very excellent meals. I made sure to get a little bit of each food item, so I would have room for dessert!!