Sunshine, beautiful corals and fish, learning how to throw a boomerang and spear, and walking amongst castle ruins– this is what I think of when I think of Cairns!

To be honest, though it may seem touristy, Cairns is such a fun little place in northern Australia that boasts subtropical weather year-round and is filled with tons of cultural activities! A perfect destination to catch some vitamin D (especially during the winter months (June-August)!), here are some quick stats before we get to the recommends!

  • It is only a two-hour plane ride from the Gold Coast Airport (I must mention that we flew JetStar and, though it was the first time I used them, it was quite possibly the nicest budget airline I have ever been on; so, if you find a sale with them down around here, go on and grab that fare!)
  • Cairns is part of the The Tropical North in Northern Queensland, which boasts subtropical weather year-round (with an average temperature of 84°F/29°C)– yes, please! (I learn more and more each day that I am so much more of a warm-weather kind of gal).

We spent about a week taking in the sun’s rays, fulfilling our need of relaxation, while injecting some fun activities, too. I’ve listed out our little excursions and what I would totally recommend; take a gander and let your travels lead way to memorable treasures! :).

Cairns City Center & Surroundings:

The Esplanade: is great if you’re looking for a nice walk/run early in the morning as the sun rises (or sets, but remember: the sun sets in the west). You’re right on the coast and the length is 2.5km. They also offer free fitness classes daily (check here for what’s happening today!)

The Night Market: if you’re looking for some good ol’ Australian souvenirs, unique gifts for yourself or someone you know, a bite to eat, affordable massages, fish doctors (you know, the ones that are in little aquariums that help get your feet supple and soft), and other things, then this is the place for you to be. It’s open seven days a week between the hours of 4:30PM and 10:30PM. I recommend, if you have the time, going in to check it out and then coming back another day after letting it all soak in! (It also helps with impulsive shopping— that’s my trick!)

Dundees: as in, Crocodile Dundee. Now, I’m not too sure if they sell crocodile or not, but what I *do* one is that food at this restaurant is certainly delicious. Grab a seat right on the boardwalk by the water for a cool little seabreeze to help cool you off, or sit inside for a little cozier option (though this place is pretty big, it still gives you the feeling of cozy).

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park: this was an absolutely amazing experience and I highly recommend it when in Cairns! I believe in getting a country’s cultural experience whenever possible, and understanding the Aboriginal culture is very important. The center does a beautiful job of explaining the story of creation, taking you to a music performance, teaching of medicinal and poisonous plants, and learning how to throw spears and boomerangs! For an additional cost, you can either paint your own boomerang and make your own jewelry or go on a private bush walk to learn how to identify plants for medicinal and culinary purposes, ending with a little traditional tea party. The family that works here are very proud, knowledgeable and excited to share their culture with the world. If you’re feeling curious, may we suggest the chef’s tasting platter at the café that allows you to try: crocodile, ham, emu and kangaroo.

The Great Barrier Reef: an absolute must do when you’re up here! As you may have heard, the reef is dying (GOSH!), so catch it in all its beauty while you still can (I remain hopeful that we can reverse this). There are many operators that can take you out to different reefs, but we went with SilverSwift after a high recommendation from a pro diver and photographer. I think SilverSwift is the most expensive ones out there, but they are so worth it. What we loved was that the ship was newer and smaller, compared to others, fitting only about 85 people; as uncrowded we could be at the reefs was very important to us. The price includes morning tea, a hot & cold buffet lunch, afternoon tea, sailing to three different reefs for exploring, snorkeling at all the reefs visited (gear (even prescription goggles!) included!) and educational talks while you travel from one reef to another that explains to you the different fish you may see while you’re out exploring. You can add diving to your excursion for an additional cost. Not sure if you want to do it in the first place? No worries, while on-board you can select to dive then (or, if you already dove, to add another dive into the mix!). It was one of the best things I have done in my life and highly recommend it! (ps: they have gopros for hire/ a scubadiving photographer to capture some photos of you under the water, too!)

Take a trip south of Cairns and you’ll find…

Paronella Park: José Paronella came to Australia from Spain with a dream and, after recalling the countless stories about castles that his mother used to tell him when he was young, Mr. Paronella decided to build some castles of his own. Not only did he raise his kids on this beautiful property, but he built little movie theatre pavilions, ice cream shops, diving grounds and many more things, all for the community to come in and, for a simple, low cost, have somewhere that brought them to another place. Unfortunately, it has suffered natural disasters such as floods. In turn, the place turned into ruins and the walk into the park is still beautiful. Your admission lets you in for two years (yes, two years) and gives you access to both the day-time tours, as well as the night time tour; we did both!

Treetop Walk: we didn’t quite make it here, but heard great reviews of the walk. You climb stairs and walk on suspended bridges through the treetops, sighting birds and getting a great view of the lush, green mountains and forests around! If you’re looking to get an eagle-eye’s view, this is your place to go and get it.

Central Cairns doesn’t have a real “beach” per se…

it’s more like a wonderful Esplanade with a lagoon that provides a free swimming pool for you during its opening hours. But, head up north and you will find:

Palm Cove: I really enjoyed this little beachside town that we visited it twice. Grab your beach towel and nestle yourself under a palm tree, soaking in the suns rays (remember your sunscreen!) and taking a dip into the cool waters (remember to swim between the flags!). You can rent/hire bicycles and go for a stroll or, as we always do, rely on your own two feel to walk along the many restaurants and shops. We are at Ocean Palms*** and had a delightful lunch. Walk it off with a walk to the pier for some great post-food scenic views.

Port Douglas: About an hour and a half up north you will find this charming little nautical town. If you love to shop, Macrossan Street will be your new best friend. While you’re there, stop at Wicked Ice Cream Co. for some amazing ice cream. Take it with you as you walk down to Four Mile Beach. You can also bring a book and/or your togs (bathing suit) and enjoy a beach loved by many Australians. Make sure to make your way to one of the most beautiful harbours I’ve seen, filled with shops, dinging options and, of course, sailing: The Reef Marina.

We didn’t get to make it all the way up due to scheduling, but do check out…

The Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation: It’s a bit further up, but if you have the time, do go! Regular, private cars won’t be able to access much of the rainforest, so it’s best to book a tour and make the most of your day! My friend Kadi mentioned that she did a waterfall tour where they took her all around the rainforest, stopping at different swimming holes– sounds so cool!! I’ve also seen ziplining available. Overall, check out the site and do let me know if you make it— I’ll add your recommendations to my list for when we make it back there! :).

xx,

Previous ArticleNext Article
Brooklyn native, Latina, and founder of Enlightened by Bravery, an adventure/travel and wellness blog that focuses on drawing inspiration from adventures around the world back into your life // iPhoneographer // Francophile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5.

5 Best Places to Eat in Ubud

Let me tell you, there is no shortage of places to eat in Ubud; it is both absolutely fascinating and exciting!! With that said, whenever we go anywhere to eat, I always rank them and keep record of it so that I can (1) remember them for next time and (2) share them (because nothing makes me happier than being able to share some reccos with you!!). Below you will find 5 of the best places we ate at during our time in Ubud, so you can kickstart your yummy eating! And I’m sure you’ll find more as you explore around, so please comment below on any others you absolutely found to love!! Enjoy the recommendations!!!

The Clear Café

I love this place so much that I came here three times. Vegetarian, vegan, and raw-diet friendly, this place has all the healthy, delicious goodness and charm one could hope many restaurants everywhere could offer. For starters, you are welcomed by this beautiful hand-carved circular door where you “shoe check” your footwear, are given a number, and then are seated either on the first or second floor. As you descend up the stairs, where on each step lays fresh flowers at your feet, you come to a daily motivational quote sure to pick your day up even more (written entirely out of flowers, I should add). The food is absolutely healthy and delicious (did I say that already?!). It may be a little pricier than most regular joints in Ubud (meaning your meal may be $10 USD), but it is absolutely worth it. You will fall in love with the menu as there is a diverse offering in cuisine. I highly recommend the Bali Berry, Tropical Twister, Chai Iced Dream, Twilight Tonic, Fish Fillet, Dragon Bowl (my fave — I live for that mango chutney), and the Chocolate Platinum!


Warung Città Ovest Pizza & Pasta

This pizza and pasta joint is LEGIT. Not only is it crazy affordable, it is even crazier delicious. You don’t have to jetset to Italy for a pizza craving because this place ‘got you.’ The only caveat is that the seating is very limited, so get there before the lunch or dinner rush to score a seat — and a scooter parking spot right in front. For pizzas, the Basil Basil and Vegetariana were legit. Pastas? Can’t go wrong with Pomodoro and Pesto. ps: they also do take away, just keep your grip tight on your pizza box as you’re scooting on back to your place like we did :). pps: yes, they have WiFi!


Café Pomegranate

Located a little ways away from central Ubud, this place will require you to take your little scooter on up to narrow paths, but leave you highly rewarded with a feeling of freedom as you drive past the beautiful rice fields. Café Pomegranate itself is located in front of a rice field and boasts some wonderful al fresco dining. Park your scooter up front, remove your shoes at the entryway, be welcomed by your server (and probably one of the friendly cats just strolling around), and be seated to your place of preference. I highly recommend taking a seat at the perimeter of the restaurant where you’ll be seated on a cushioned chair on the floor, overlooking the beautiful green fields in front of you. The menu isn’t too extensive, but still boasts some very delicious foods. We highly recommend the curry and their fresh fruit juices. It is the perfect spot for anytime during the day, but I think going for sunset would be even lovelier, too.


Gaya Gelato

The heat is certainly going to be up while you’re in Bali, so why not cool off with some of the most delicious, artisanal gelato in the area?! With two locations to choose from in Ubud (or, why choose? go to both ;)), Gaya Gelato will certainly hit that sweet spot without feeling like you’re about to go on a sugar high– plus, they also serve sorbets for all of my dairy-sensitive friends out there :). They have classic flavors like vanilla, pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate, but also boast some local and artisanal flavors such as: durian, chocolate + orange, and mangosteen. Speaking of local, all of their ingredients are locally sourced and only the freshest of them all are used. So, how will you choose? Well, here’s a little hint: even if you get just one scoop, you can choose to do two flavors. Not too shabby, huh?


Toro Sushi

If you have a hankering for some sushi, Toro Sushi has you covered. We actually stumbled upon this place and were pleasantly surprised with the sushi as it was super tasty! It was also a nice break from trying all of the local Balinese food non-stop in the two towns we were at before hitting up Ubud: Uluwatu and Sanur. I will admit, the service could have been a little bit quicker, but maybe it was just the New Yorker in me, and maybe it’s just the Bali way ;). I’m more of a sweet potato, yellowtail and rainbow roll kind of girl, but can tell you that my rolls were all delicious and fresh. // bonus: if you’re feeling like a refreshing treat afterwards and don’t want to venture too far, right across the way from Toro Sushi is a place right across the way called “Açai Queen,” it’s great for a little something sweet (both for the palette and the eyes) if you’re craving a finishing touch to your meal ;).

xx,

D.

Dealing with Post-Travel Depression

travel, depression, mental health, blogger

Editor’s note: I always want my posts to come with a learning rather than be a vent session, so I laid low for a while to be a student to life, learn some of the lessons in private and come back with advice – I hope this helps anyone out there who may be dealing with the same.

After living abroad for a year where we: drove THOUSANDS of miles in our van, rental cars and busses, boarded 12 different flights and visited 6 insanely different (and beautiful) countries, I came back to New York a totally changed person. My mentality changed. My pace of life changed. But New York? It was the same. And that was the start of it.

To be honest, these have been some of the most confusing and difficult two months in quite a while for me. Coming from a state of mind of constantly being stimulated with “new” to having pretty much nothing stimulate me back home, well, I really didn’t have much motivation to do anything— truthfully.

I soon found that all of the things that used to bring me joy and happiness here (before I left) no longer did that for me. Instead, I felt stuck, lost and was going through the motions. I’ll be the first to tell you that I was lazily waking up at 10/11am every day and never really left the house. I wasn’t active on social media much, nor did I really want to be social– not online and not in person. If I wasn’t sitting on the bed playing Matchington (iPhone game similar to Candy Crush), I was in the kitchen just cooking all the time so I could release my frustrations in a more creative way.

There really wasn’t much will for anything, just enough to get through the day.

I wasn’t feeling like myself and it really made me frustrated. I LOVE being outdoors. I LOVE exploring. I LOVE being social and active. I LOVE seeking the new, the different — but none of that was jiving with me. It also didn’t help that it’s the dead of winter and if I wanted to go out NYC would give me the gift of hyperthermia. Thanks, but no thanks.

I started looking at my life and started questioning everything. Who am I? What’s my purpose? I felt absolutely useless and purposeless (and that’s such a sucky feeling to have). What did I want to do? I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know. I just wanted it to be night time so I can sleep and not have to think about anything.

travel, depression, mental health, blogger

I came across a handful of post-travel depression articles in my research BEFORE we left for life abroad, but I really didn’t pay much attention to them. “Nah, that won’t happen to me; I’ve traveled a lot before and never felt that way,” is what I’d always say.

The Aha Moment:

But you know what I learned? That you need to, 100%, admit it to yourself, in the mirror, that this is real, happening to you, 100% normal, and that you will get through it. And it was at that pivotal moment that I started to recover. You no longer are in denial. You accept. And as simple as it sounds, it was extremely hard to come to that conclusion and admit it to the one person who needs to hear it the most: you.

Forget the taboo. Years ago, seeing a therapist was seemed as if something was wrong with you. With the increase in mental health awareness, the fact that you get to see a therapist is amazing. It shows strength. Power. Will for a better tomorrow and thereafter. The same with admitting that you have depression. Admit it to yourself and keep moving forward for your better tomorrow and thereafter.

Proof is in the Pudding:

That kickass person that saved money, was finding the best deals on travel/experiences, went away, communicated (even if BARELY) with strangers in a foreign language in order to survive, adapted, took chances on the craziest ideas, was extraordinarily nimble, was curious about life and beyond — that kickass person is STILL in there!! The skills, perspectives and everything else you learned will forever be a part of you. Just because your environment changed doesn’t mean that you suddenly became (sorry for the harshness) stupid/worthless/less valuable than a piece of chopped liver. I once had a marketing executive give me an example at my previous job once where he woke up one day and his wife, all concerned, was like, “omg what if you lose your job today?” and his response was “so then I get another one? I move on and figure it out. Just because I lose my job doesn’t instantly make me stupid and forget all that I know and have learned.” And that’s a good mentality to have, because though your environment has changed, you are still A FREAKING BADASS AND FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH!

You see, when you travel (and especially live) abroad, you notice different values, patterns, customs and people. The beautiful thing about traveling is that exposure to ‘different’ makes you think past the superficial and into the depths of your soul. And oftentimes, changes you — for the better. That’s why we bring back souvenirs and have a whole story to tell along with them; experiences from afar strung such a chord with us that we just needed to have a way to remember them back home. Even if it isn’t physical, the memories are just as sweet. It’s a beautiful moment in time, really.

Getting back to New York, I was picking apart all the things that I saw was ‘wrong’ with it. And by ‘wrong’ I meant ‘what was not normal to me anymore.” AND THAT’S OKAY. What else would you expect after you come home to the ‘ordinary’ after living the ‘extraordinary?’

MOVING FORWARD WITH LIFE:

Initially, when I searched the web frantically for some consolation to my woes, a lot of the advice I saw out there was “leave again ASAP” and, personally, that didn’t jive with me. To me, that was escaping. And I SO BAD wanted to do it. SO BAD. But, the average American gets two weeks of vacation a year; are you expected to burn through that in one fell swoop?

After admitting that I had post-travel depression, my mentality shifted to this:

if I was able to adjust in other parts of the world on a different mentality than those of the locals, then I am capable of getting stronger with my mentality here back home, getting my sh*t together, and putting myself on a more sensible track to doing what I love and getting to where I want to be.

I don’t think NYC will be our forever and ever home (or only home), but it is my home right now, and until I figure out the rest of my life’s plans, I’m going to make the best of it. Let all of the amazing experiences away catch up with you. You’ll soon start to see yourself getting creative again, motivated. And the universe will continue to guide you to where you’re meant to be. You ran a marathon. This is your recovery period. Recover, because the kicking of a** will continue!!!

Summary

  • When you get home and are back from your trip, chill. Take it easy on yourself. This is normal. This process takes time.
  • Stay afloat. Don’t spiral too downwards in your woes. I mean, hey, we all have our days, but know when to come back and just… float. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Have honest conversations in the mirror about your frustrations, concerns, and be open about how sad you are. Consult a therapist or, as I did, a loved one. And journal. Journal as often as possible.
  • Start working out. I KNOW. You have no will or motivation. But after month one, start moving that body around. I promise, it will help. Even if just a bit. AND KEEP MOVING.
  • Find just one thing you find pleasure in doing and keep doing that one thing. For me it was cooking. What’s your one thing?
  • Admit you’re not only depressed but that you’re a freaking BADASS. Sign up for a class. Watch some GaryVee or Tony Robbins. Get pumped. These guys believe in you.
  • Create a mini plan for what you want for yourself in the near future and start planning for that. Small goals, moving to bigger ones down the line. I want to drink more water, start up French lessons again, and eventually go to South America to visit family at some point before the year’s end. Even if I get just one checked off, it’s one in the right direction.

It’s not such a fun story that I’m sharing, but it’s something super important, super real and is a mental state that definitely needs to have some more light shed on it. We all go through our own post-travel depression levels and it’s important to do what works best for you. But remain honest. Stay positive. And just know that, like all of your bad days that are now behind you, this, too, will be something you will overcome. It will be something we will overcome. And you know why? Because we’re beautiful, global citizens that need a little reset before we go back out there again, learning more, sharing more, and doing more life-changing things.

xx,