As promised, here is our guide to eating Cruelty Free in Cairns! There were so many options which made it incredibly easy to eat vegan in tropical North QLD!
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL!
We left on the 27th December as Francis’s surprise 30th birthday present. At the airport, we snacked on dates, fruit, juices and on board we were thrilled to see that Tiger Air offered a Gluten Free & Vegan ‘Cheese’ toasted sandwich which was surprisingly tasty!
The second we touched down in the sunny tropics, we set off for Rusty’s Market on Grafton Street which is filled with fresh fruit, sugar cane juice, vegan waffles, vegan ice-cream and more! I picked up a kilo bag of Lychees which were incredibly juicy and sweet along with some Japanese Pears. In this heat, all you feel like is hydrating, fresh fruit!
At 2pm, we were allowed to check into our hotel and relax. In the evening, we walked along the beautiful Esplanade to grab some Thai. Cafe Thailand is a lovely restaurant with cheap vegan options. We both ordered the Tofu Massaman Potato Curry with Jasmine Rice.
DAY 2 – THE DAINTREE RAINFOREST
The next day, our tour guide picked us up at 7am for our all day Daintree Rainforest Tour. As mentioned in my Travel Tips Blog, when you have a really early departure and no time for breakfast – eat some Clif Bars!
The Daintree Rainforest was honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and it was even more special to share it with Francis. Being an avid scientist and Marine Biology Major, he provided lots of interesting facts along the way. We saw row after row of Jackfruit trees, hidden creeks, waterfalls, special creatures and spectacular views!
I would highly recommend doing this tour and make sure you list that you’re vegan. We ate outside in this beautiful private property high up in the forest. We were given falafel burgers, salads and lots of fruit. Unfortunately, the Mossman Gorge was closed due to flooding so we didn’t get to see it but I believe the Daintree more than made up for it!
In the evening, we were dropped off at Royal India on the Esplanade for a vegan veggie curry with basmati rice.
If you’re a High Carb, Low Fat Vegan, Cairns really has all of the options. Fruit all day and low sodium, low fat carbs at night! Make sure you also check out the Night Markets in town which has adorable shops and vegan goodies!
DAY 3 – REST DAY!
The first thing I did this morning was go to The Healthy Hub which was literally across the street from our hotel! I highly recommend all vegans check out this place. It is an organic produce store and essentially a plant-based supermarket! All the staff are vegan and I was able to pick up lots of goodies while I was there that I couldn’t get back home. I was highly surprised to find it wasn’t on Happy Cow so I added it on there with a review. I picked up some Medjool Dates, Bananas, Mango Chunks, Carob Syrup and Coconut Chips. If you’re not a fan of hotel food (which I’m not), the Healthy Hub is perfect for purchasing and putting together your own breakfasts!
For lunch, we ate at the most recommended vegan friendly restaurant on Happy Cow – Lilypad Cafe. Found on Grafton Street, the entire cafe is filled colourful artwork, yoga posters and a rich menu. I ordered the Anahata Juice (Sanskrit for Heart Centre) which is watermelon, mint and ginger – an excellent combo! The table names are goddesses (see below) and they serve breakfast all day! I ordered the Eggplant Babushka and Francis ordered the Vegan Lasagna. Definitely one of the best places to eat in town!
The rest of the day was spent exploring and relaxing. In the evening, we went to Montezuma’s (another highly recommended hot spot on Happy Cow!) because who doesn’t crave Mexican? All of the vegetarian options on the menu can be made vegan. I ordered the Montezuma’s delight which was so healthy and light!
DAY 4 – THE REEF!
Things don’t always go so well and that is okay. It’s important to be real about our experiences. To put it mildly, today was incredibly traumatic for us. We boarded the Seastar Cruise at 8am and it was already pouring with torrential rain. As the boat started to leave, we were told it was going to be a very choppy ride for 1.5 hours and that we all needed to take seasick tablets. I have never been able to swallow tablets but luckily I don’t suffer motion sickness. What bothers me is seeing everybody else being sick and that is exactly what happened for the entire day. When we finally reached Michaelmas Cay, it was still pouring, grey and we were unable to see much. I felt trapped the entire time while the rest of the people were violently ill around me. Francis and I refused to eat at all so by the time we got off the boat at 4pm (and kissed the ground!) we were starving. It was still a cool experience to see the reef but the journey was costly and draining.
I felt like something light after the boat ride so I stopped at FryDays. They sell delicious, fruity Acai Bowls. Just make sure you omit the granola as it has honey and ask for extra fruit.
Of course that wasn’t enough so I also picked up some purple sushi on Shields Street (entrance to Cairns Square Shopping Centre) which was yummy!
We spent the evening trying to recover from such an intense day!
DAY 5 – KURANDA!
Today was our last full day in Cairns and we were determined to make up for yesterday. We boarded the Scenic Railway at 10am and had the best time climbing up the mountain, taking photos and standing outside on the train. I highly recommend seeing Kuranda and taking the Scenic Railway. We stopped at Baron Falls and captured lots of incredible pictures along the way!
When we arrived at Kuranda, we had 3 and a half hours to look around before our bus driver came back. We wandered through the enchanting Rainforest Markets and had an incredible lunch. If you venture down to the Lower Markets, you will find a place called Jungle Juice. It sells a Raw Vegan Almond Falafel Plate with Garlic and Tahini Sauce. This was beyond good and really refreshing!
I also really felt like a raw dessert so I tried the Chai Pie which was so tasty and not at all dense! If you travel up to Kuranda, you can get raw desserts from Jungle Juice or Sweet Leaf. Both have a great range of options!
After lunch we embarked on the River and Jungle Walk which takes approximately an hour to do but so so worth it! There was absolutely no one around and we saw some of the most incredible wildlife and nature. I highly recommend doing this if you go to Kuranda.
That evening I was struck with a horrible fever and couldn’t stop shaking in bed. I believe it had to do with the traumatic experience on the boat. At midnight, Francis was applying wet cloths to my forehead and that is how we rang in the New Year.
DAY 6 – HOME TIME!
We left early on the last day and I was still riddled with my fever which made the plane trip a bit unpleasant. We arrived home and Mum made us some veggie pasta. Despite a lot of things not working out, we still had a wonderful time and the food was honestly a highlight! It truly is very simple to be vegan in Cairns and I hope all of my recommendations helped!
On January 14th, I will be flying to Taiwan with my Mum to visit my sister for 10 days. Taiwan was voted one of the most vegan friendly countries in the world so I’m super excited to blog my experience! Stay tuned!
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