Cool, eco-friendly villas just north of Cairns
I am currently backpacking for six to eight months through Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia. I am writing because I have been particularly impressed with a unique, lovely, and quirky local property that has gone above and beyond my expectations and reminded me of what slow, conscious travel is all about. My partner and I are staying in a tranquil little villa at Villa Marine Holiday Rentals for our first week in Australia. The apartment is more like a well-appointed vacation rental than a hotel room as it is equipped with a full kitchen, pool with BBQ, washer, dryer, and clothes line, and front and back balconies from which the lush green of the rainforest beckons. The owner of the property, Peter, has gone completely out of his way to welcome us and make us feel at home, even taking us to see a great salsa band in Cairns at the casino (great dance moves too!) and bringing us to the home of a friend to pick mangos another evening. We've been impressed with his approach to eco-friendly tourism, utilizing both solar-powered hot water heaters and a catchment system of rainwater tanks as well as minimizing waste, avoiding cleaning products with chemicals harmful to the environment, and recycling just about everything possible. The atmosphere at the villas is friendly and convivial, and we have been fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a fellow guest, a harp player from Kuranda named Debbie Robinson. We had the pleasure of her Cranberries/Dylan-inspired folk music Sunday morning at Cafe BUZZaroma, also in Yorkey's Knob. Floating in the pool surrounded on all sides by the exotic trees of the tropical rainforest with the gentle melody of Deb's harp and a voice that calls Joni Mitchell to mind; it's easy to spend an afternoon in such an idyllic setting with no pressing need to reach for a phone, computer, or any connection with the outside world. For us that is one of the joys of slow travel, finding little jewels like Villa Marine that entice us to sleep in, move slow, have another cup of coffee, read books instead of emails, pick mangos and coconuts, open a bottle of local wine around sunset, and settle in for another peaceful evening on Australia's stunning East coast.