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Reef Report for Sunday, October 1, 2006

Cape Tribulation: A gem of a place to visit and dive

We just this week returned from a week-long visit to Cape Tribulation, a secluded and beautiful bit of coastline about 2 hours drive north of Cairns. We had such a great time we had to write a bit about it, and encourage you to consider spending a few days of your holiday there.

The Cape Tribulation area is mostly National Parkland; Daintree and Cape Tribulation National parks protect most of the mountain and coastal regions here. © Joel Groberg These parks protect some of the most unique ecosystems on the earth; tropical rainforests that have been that way for over 150 million years, whose forests include plant species that trace their ancestry back to that time.

This is also an incredibly beautiful area, with lush green rain forest on the mountains and lowlands, so healthy that they extend over and shade the sandy beaches. Offshore there are fringing reefs that beckon snorkellers, and just 10 miles out lies the Great Barrier Reef.

Itís easy to dive here. There are two day dive operations, Odyssey H20 and Rumrunner. Both offer scuba diving and snorkeling as well as introductory scuba dives to their guests. Itís an easy short trip out to the reef, as itís closer to shore here compared to Cairns and Port Douglas. This part of the coastline is well away from the larger coastal rivers and floodplains, so visibility is very good nearly all the time.

Cape Tribulation Village is very small; we enjoyed the fact that pretty much everything was within easy walking distance, but still separated by tracts of rainforest. There are a variety of lodgings in the area; our two favorites are Cape Trib Beach House and Cape Trib Farmstay. There are also two four-star eco resorts, several budget backpackersí hostels, a variety of small unique cabins, Bed/Breakfasts and a campground. (Drop us an email and we can give you further details.)

Itís easy to get to Cape Tribulation from Cairns and Port Douglas. Most folks rent a car, but there are several excellent small and economical coach services that will take you from your doorstep in Cairns right to your lodging in Cape Tribulation, and some even stop at some of the sites of interest that lie along the way. We took a short detour on our way up, stopping at Daintree Village to take a scenic cruise along this tropical river in a small electric boat, where we saw some of the huge saltwater crocodiles that call this river their home.

When we were not diving we enjoyed several great day hikes, relaxing on the beach, and riding bicycles (available for rent at several locations). Somehow all our daily travels took us by the Daintree Ice Cream Company, where they make the most delicious ice cream, most of it from tropical fruits from their own orchard. We never got around to going horseback riding, sea kayaking, or taking any of the guided treks, 4wd tours of the area, those we will have to save for our next visit.

At night we relaxed at home most nights, but also enjoyed eating out at several restaurants. There are also nighttime tours of the rainforest here, which are excellent. Much of the wildlife here is nocturnal, so getting into the forest at night is a must for fans of wildlife.

If you want to combine a diving vacation with a quiet laid-back stay in a tropical rainforest, or if you are a nature lover as well as a diver, you ought to consider visiting this area. The area is worth a three- or four-day visit and is a great contrast from the busier towns of Cairns and Port Douglas. We can help you with all the arrangements, and can book your travel to and from Cape Trib, as well as your lodging, diving, and any additional tours you wish to take.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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