Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Great Barrier Reef: 5 Child-Free Days in Port Douglas, Australia

" You don't have to die to be in Heaven." That was the tagline of the resort we stayed in on our recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

I should have know it was going to be a good trip when I was crying tears of joy before we even left the Auckland Airport. That's apparently what happens when you send me on my first child-free vacation ever, well you know since having a child. Man I love that girl, but whew the time had come to have more then a few hours of adult time. Like I might want to get crazy and shower and use the bathroom alone in the same day. I became overwhelmed with joy after we checked our bags that I didn't physically have to carry anything. That combined with wearing white jeans without fear was enough to bring a tear to my eye. Despite being pregnant I had never felt lighter.

Here's the thing about having a kid, your standards for what can bring you happiness drop immensely, in a really good way. All the sudden that boring cup of coffee pre kids is elevated to a magical moment when you actually get to sit down and enjoy it. We were in the Koru Club before our flight and I order a flat white and well it wasn't that great. No problem! I ordered another one and happily stood there for another five minutes waiting for perfection, because I could. Because I was only responsible for myself and it was amazing!!

The Great Barrier Reef was on our bucket list and it did not disappoint. The Mai Tai Resort in Port Douglas was a indeed a little slice of heaven. Since we weren't bringing Hazel I certainly didn't want to be subject to any other little rug rats on our precious grown ups trip, which is why we chose a place that didn't allow children. When I was telling my father-in-law about our adults only retreat I quickly realized it sounded more like ADULTS only and the vacation version of the back room in the video store. Glad we cleared that one up.

We were served breakfast every morning outside and the view was incredible.

The pool was not too shabby either.

Port Douglas in a resort town an hour away from Cairns, Australia, the main hub for the region and the place you fly in to. It's a beautiful, easy drive along the coast.

The main beach in town is 4 Mile Beach. As far as beaches go it is pretty sweet. Wide and beautiful, and a great place to spend the day.

We got a tip from a local to go the opposite end of beach from where the tourists go and that made for a truly relaxing experience. The view from the Lookout:

One of the best things about Port Douglas is Shakes Gelati. I should know as I went there every single day. And one time twice in one day. De-lish. Ice cream on vacation just taste better, doesn't it?

Gelato aside, the main reason we were there was to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.

 It was truly spectacular. The reef was unlike anything I've ever seen. I didn't know what to expect, but a boat takes you about an hour and a half out and on the surface it looks like you are just being dropped in a random spot in the middle of the ocean.

Once you are in the water, though, you look down and see the magical world below. It is one of the coolest things I've ever seen or done.

For me it's the most unbelievable peace combined with an element of terror of what could be around the next corner. What everyone looks for in a holiday I know.  And yes, we saw a freaking shark. I was assured if we did see one it would just be a reef shark and it would not be interested in us. That sounded reasonable and reassuring when I was on the boat, but when I was actually in the water and saw one I was less convinced. I swam away from it and Adam swam towards it. The fish and the colors are just spectacular. We went to three different snorkel spots, all really great.

We also did a day exploring the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world. I had high hopes as what doesn't sound amazing about the oldest rainforest in the world, but ehh to me it just felt like a forest. Perhaps if you had just gotten out of prison it would be awe inspiring, as fresh air and green trees can be quite exhilarating. We did this tour and the guide kept telling us to keep a lookout for the elusive cassowary, a flightless bird that looks like this:

I've never looked so hard for a bird I'd never heard of or cared about. Our tour also included a "crocodile cruise" down the Daintree River in which we saw not a single croc. HA! We did get to go to a secret spot with some pretty waterfalls and gigantic eels. Adam and I apparently are the only two out of 538 people on TripAdvisor who didn't think the whole Daintree stuff was amazing. Well, may a cassowary cross our paths when we least expect it.

Overall it was such a relaxing, fun trip. Hazel was a superstar and I was so excited to see her when we got back. It wouldn't have been possible though without the help of the grandparents. Adam's Dad and stepmom, Lois, came to visit us in September and Lois was kind enough to stay on an extra week and take care of Hazel while we went away. Thanks Grandma Lolo!

 To many more child-free holidays....

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