Now that Singapore and Hong Kong have officially introduced an air travel bubble arrangement, travellers are hoping the scheme will potentially be rolled out to other countries. One country that is eyeing a similar air travel bubble is Australia. In late October, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that discussions are underway to expand Australia’s travel bubble – which currently allows travellers from New Zealand to travel to several states without quarantine – to several Asian countries, including Singapore and Japan, in the coming months.
While we wait with cautious optimism, we scope out four novel experiences to try the next time you’re in Cairns. Widely considered to be the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is enticing travellers with a slew of new offerings from hotels and tour operators. Here are our top picks:
1. Venture out into the Great Barrier Reef
After months of being in lockdown, what better way to celebrate your freedom than being out in the wide expanse of the sea? Spread along the coast of eastern Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, comprising over 2,900 individual reefs and more than 900 islands. From Cairns, hop onboard the Coral Discoverer and set sail on a seven-night adventure that takes you to the pristine outer reefs and the less-known but no less beautiful islands of the Great Barrier Reef. With a maximum of 72 passengers and a three-tiered medical screening protocol onboard each ship, you can be assured your health and safety is always priority.
2. Enjoy the world’s oldest rainforest from a new perspective
Located in the middle of the Daintree Rainforest – which dates back over 180 million years – the Daintree Ecolodge is a popular retreat for nature lovers and travellers looking to get away from the busyness of urban life. The resort has recently undergone a facelift, with the Lagoon Bayans (treehouses) now featuring a private screened balcony that overlooks the rainforest and the Rainforest Bayans now comprising a private outdoor bathtub where you can soak in the sights and sounds of the world’s oldest rainforest.
If you prefer to get in the thick of the fauna action, head over to Wildlife Habitat on Port Douglas. In commemoration of their 30th anniversary this year, the wildlife park has opened its newly renovated Rainforest Habitat, which give guests the feeling of being in the rainforest while they spot birds and native animals from the newly constructed Licuala Tower and Birdseye Bridge.
3. Embark on a foodie adventure
From gelato to microgreens, barramundi to breadfruit, and chocolate to chorizo, the Daintree is home to a diverse range of small farms, orchards, fisheries and micro-manufacturers. Launched in June this year, the Daintree Food Trail takes you on a gourmet road trip from Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation, stopping at farms, restaurants, cellars and markets along the way. You can book the tour with a chef as your guide or do it at your own pace with a downloadable map. Alternatively, hop on a tag-a-long tasting journey with Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventures, which takes you from Cairns, the Northern Beaches and Port Douglas to the Atherton Tablelands, nicknamed the food bowl of Far North Queensland. Along the way, you’ll get to sample locally grown coffee, nuts, tropical fruits, cheese, wines and spirits while listening to guided commentary via CB radio.
4. Discover an alternative nightlife scene
Nope, we are not talking about a pub crawl. The spectacular Cairns Aquarium, which is the only aquarium in the world to exclusively showcase the aquatic creatures from the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest, has launched a new “Aquarium by Twilight” programme. Taking place after hours, this ecologist-guided tour takes you through 10 tropical ecosystems – from rivers to reef – to observe fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles adapting to the shift from day to night. The tour includes a scrumptious three-course dinner at the onsite restaurant, Dundee’s.
For a more traditional nightcap, head over to Flynn, the latest property in the Crystalbrook Collection’s portfolio of hotels. Opened since 10 November, the stylish bolthole is conveniently located along the Esplanade and offers lovely views of the Coral Sea. Pop into their on-site restaurant Boardwalk Social to enjoy their expansive menu of 36 beers on tap.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
The information is accurate as of press time. For updated information, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
To learn more about Singapore Airlines flights, visit singaporeair.com.