Solo adventure: Five days in Australia

I’m planning a last-minute vacation to the #1 top place on my bucket list! And I kind of wish I had a travel buddy, but I’m going to Australia solo…

Holiday Travel Video Guide for Cairns, Queensland Australia

7 days. Scuba. Scuba!

I couldn’t quite decide where to go during my week off of work in December.

I almost picked Costa Rica, because roundtrip flights were under $400 USD, but the rainy weather, Spanish language, and cool temperatures gave me pause.


My friend Mettabel reminded me that when it’s winter in North America, it’s actually summer in Australia. And I’ve literally been wanting to explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef since I was a child. Plus my fellow scuba diver friend (hey Suzanne!) even recently warned me to get on it ASAP — because of coral bleaching.

Mettabel: Treat yourself!
Me: Immediately secures a 3-month travel visa to Australia
Also me: Googles ‘best dive sites in the Great Barrier Reef’

Travel booked: Tuesday, Dec. 4 — Tuesday, Dec. 11

Somehow I failed to consider that direct flights to Sydney are super hella long. So while I’m leaving California next Tuesday night, I won’t even arrive in Australia until Thursday morning, Dec. 6. Like. I don’t get to have a Dec. 5 this year.

I will get back in time for a day of rest before I start my new job on Wednesday, Dec. 12! But this leaves me with only five full days to explore Australia.

Cairns, Queensland Australia

Day 01 — Sky’s the limit

Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018

From Sydney, I’ll get right on a flight to Cairns (pronounced ‘cans’).

When I get there (around 2 p.m.) I’ll try to squeeze in some scuba immediately. Diving right after flying is perfectly fine, but you should never fly within 24 hours of diving. I’d benefit from a little scuba refresher before the epic overnight boat trip where I may or may not end up bunking with a random stranger. (In a tiny cabin. On a freaking boat.)

But If I can’t dive on Thursday, I could check out city center or the piers and look out for beachy landscapes.

Cairns is supposedly heavily invested in tourism, which can be both a blessing and a curse. There will be lots of international visitors on holiday from their cold cold winters. I could go on a sunset dinner cruise, ride in a hot air balloon or helicopter, or be an equestrian or bicycle tourist for a few hours.

The accommodations I booked for my first night are pretty slick.

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Day 02 — Diving the Outer Great Barrier Reef

Friday, Dec. 7, 2018

Adventure boat! Source:

Early on Friday morning, I’ll hop aboard a mini cruise ship for the adventure of a lifetime!

We’ll tour around the Outer Great Barrier Reef and scuba dive a total of six different locations, including my first-ever night dive. In between dives I’ll be eating, sleeping, reading, and lounging.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. I can’t wait for some quality R&R.
Great Barrier Reef Photo: Wise Hok Wai Lum

Day 03 — Scuba or bust!

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018

On Saturday morning, I get to wake up on a boat. With an up-close surface view of the world’s largest coral reef system. And then I’ll get to dive in it.

Given that my vacation is super short plus I’ve never slept overnight on a boat… I decided to book just a single night out to sea.

I normally would’ve set aside at least two weeks for an intercontinental vacation, but I had no wiggle room for this trip!

The climate will be tropical — super hot, humid, and sunny — perfect for scuba diving. Due to the 24 hour rule, I want to basically be diving all day on Saturday — my flight back to Sydney is on Monday.

Day 04 — Decompression

Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018

Maybe instead of diving on Sunday, I can take a day trip, hike the rainforest, snorkel, read a book by the pool, peep the wildlife, holler at Mother Nature, or check out the Cairns Aquarium.

Whatever ends up happening this Dec. 6 to 9 in Cairns, I definitely want to scuba dive as much as I can before Sunday. And soak up the max amount of hot Australian summer as possible.

Sydney, New South Wales Australia

Day 05 — A day and night in Sydney

Monday, Dec. 10, 2018

The weather should be significantly cooler and less humid in Sydney than it was in Cairns.

Maybe I will find Sydney’s art scene, its queer scene, and/or the city’s queer arts scene. Maybe I’ll go kayaking. Or perhaps I’ll find a kangaroo or two.

My flight out on Tuesday isn’t until 1 p.m. so I might end up staying out late on Monday — hotel bar drinks or clubbing? (Wish me luck with that on a weeknight, LOL.) I’ll set several alarms.

I’ll have a whole 15-hour direct flight home to sleep it off, after all.

I’ll try to keep you posted on my blog. Stay tuned!