Getting to the Great Barrier Reef

Flights and Transportation
Looking at 10 to 15 hours in the air can make even the most seasoned traveler a bit squeamish, but the aircraft and crew of Air New Zealand (800-262-2468) made it an enjoyable trip. I recommend the often less-crowded 11 p.m. flight from Los Angeles. Enjoy a fine dinner with complimentary drinks, snooze through the night, wake up to a champagne breakfast while you watch a movie - and you're there.
Qantas (800-227-4500) and United (800-538-2929) also offer service to Australia from LAX.
Once in Sydney, you'll likely connect with ANSET for the last leg to Cairns. There's an ANSET counter at the international terminal where you can check your bags and take a shuttle to the domestic side. From there you might make a short stop into Brisbane or go directly to Cairns.

Charters
Cairns Reef Charter Services (011-617-40-314742, e-mail: crcs@ausfish.com) books charters for most of the fleet and specializes in complete fishing/transportation/accommodation packages. Several top-quality charter boats fish Cairns' small black marlin season. Almost all are first-rate boats, and here are several we can recommend from experience:

  • New Moon II - Capt. Kim Andersen, Cairns Fishing Adventures; 011-617-40-453240; fax: 011-617-40-453250; e-mail: cfa@north.net.au

  • Sea Baby IV - Captains Laurie Woodbridge and Ross Finlayson, Boardwalk Travel; 011-617-40-314692; fax: 011-617-40-314610

  • Azura - Capt. Barry Cross, Downunder Sportfishing; 011-617-40-545497; fax: 011-617-40-543757

  • Power Play - Capt. John Gill; 011-617-40-552725 (phone/fax)

For information on the International Black Marlin Fly Fishing Classic, contact Peter Flower at 011-614-18-767704 or fax 011-617-74-045406. For information on the Australian Black Marlin Flyfishing Masters tourney to be held at Cape Bowling Green, contact Carol North at 011-617-40-453240 or fax 453250.

Accommodations
There are many options for accommodations within walking distance to Cairns Marina, ranging from college dorm-style rooms to four-star hotels. The Bellview (011-617-40-314377) offers dorm-style rooms with shared bathrooms and showers for US$24 per night, and double-occupancy rooms with private bathrooms, fridge and air conditioning for $36 per night. The three-star Pacific International (011-617-40-517888) offers rooms for $105 per night, and the four-star Reef Hotel & Casino (011-617-40-308888) runs $160 per night. A short taxi ride from the marina, the Hotel Coral Towers (011-617-40-519611) presents another option.
At press time, the exchange rate was $1 Australian to 62 cents U.S. For more general information on Cairns, contact the Queensland Tourist & Travel Corporation's "Aussie Helpline" at 805-775-2000, or log on to australia.com.