Myself and a mate from New Zealand are moving to Northern Queensland soon to live and instruct diving for a year or so and would love some advice on the best spot up there? We're thinking Cairns, Airlie Beach or somewhere similar. We Both need to be able to get work in the diving industry and love a good party. Any tips would be much appreciated.
I'd recommend Cairns. It's bigger than Airlie and has much more going on and is more easily accessible than Airlie Beach with good transport. Although you can see/do the GBR from/around Airlie, the majority of tour boats depart from Cairns. there are also a number from Port Douglas. Many of the pubs do backpacker meals. The YHA - Cairns Central in McLeod Street, have vouchers for meals (some $5, some $10). The $10 voucher for the Woolshed offers a 2 course meal plus a free drink. Not a bad hostel, very clean, good location, but not a party hostel. If you're after a party hostel, try Gilligans in Grafton Street. The Woolshed (their website is being updated). is the place, downstairs is alright - quite nice actually, but upstairs is where all the..... action is. And whatever you may have heard about the Woolshed - it's all true. Wet Tshirt contests and all.
Rusty's Markets is legendary and is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you don't have wheels, Country Road Coaches a local company, go from Cairns to Cooktown and offer two routes, inland and coastal. Coastal's best as they travel along the Bloomfield Track.
i concur with the above post... however i'm going to go one step further and push port douglas, i've been here for almost 9 months now... originally with the intention of a fly by route stopover and got a little 'stuck', well not stuck but purposely stayed because i fell in love with it.
the marina here is stricken with diving boats where its easy enough to find work year round. and its a better launch point than cairns (in my opinion anyway ) its a relatively small town so you become quick to know everyone in the town where all is welcoming and will offer you a beer straight up. there's not much to do here besides the beach, diving, sailing, journeys to the rainforest and partying but because its a diving/hospitality town everyone is in the same mindset. not sure what kind of partying ur into but the raves/doofs that are constantly taking place in the rainforest are second to none i've ever experienced in the world, otherwise the pubs here can get pretty messy most nights (more so during the 'busy season' may-nov)
dougies is the best backpackers with a great community like camp-ground with tee-pees, a wicked entertainment area and great, cheap bar. i'd go so far to say the best in oz (followed closely by the art house, byron bay), port dee is close enough to cairns so if u need anything you can pop down, theres no fast food joints here and nothing is built higher than a palm tree (its the 'law'),
yeah yeah i'm gushing a little about this place, nothing like it anwhere else, westernised with S.E.A influences and the landscape of indonesia.
get in mon ami!