Everybody needs a break to relax and recharge. When winter sets in I love escaping to Greece, as the Mediterranean is in my blood - literally. This can get expensive however as holidaying on the Greek Islands isn't cheap. What if I told you, there's a Mediterranean hideaway that makes you feel like you're on the island of Santorini Greece right here in Australia at a fraction of the cost?
One frustrating thing for me when it comes to finding escapes, is that most places are targeted towards families and couples. What about two friends who want to travel together, relax and have some time out from their busy hectic lives? This property is perfect for that, as it would be for a couple, even an individual.
The motivation behind my stay at this B&B was its striking resemblance to a villa on a Greek island. I was curious to see what inspired owner Gail to create such a Mediterranean haven.
The moment you enter the property you feel like you're on a Greek island. Check out the bougainvillia, as you would see on Greek islands
Arriving at the property perched high on a cliff, the Grecian fountain at the entrance created an instant European ambience complete with a warm welcome from Gail. Looking into her deep blue eyes I wondered whether in a previous life her soul travelled around Europe, considering her love of the country's architecture and style.
Climbing down several flights of stone steps, memories of a similar trek on Santorini flashed through my mind. No donkeys here to take your luggage up and down, so I strongly recommend travelling light! With each step I took taking in the breathtaking view and surroundings, I arrived at the two storey apartment thinking every one was worth it.
You can't go past the location of this apartment complete with views nestled into a rainforest. It felt like a cosy cabin in the woods, yet looking out towards a glorious ocean. I spotted wind surfers, boats and a cruise ship similar to ones I'd seen at Santorini port, while down below I could hear the thunderous crashing of waves onto rocks.
Lounge area and kitchen are upstairs, two bedrooms downstairs, with private balconies and ocean views out to the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding islands
The first thing I noticed was how clean the apartment was. Although not modern or refurbished, it had an energy about it. The wooden décor, style and furnishings reminding me of my childhood family holidays. In the corner a rocking chair with a crochet throw over, and hanging from the roof a candle inside an elegant old fashioned style lantern adding touch to the rustic style.
The kitchen was equipped with more than enough necessities needed. The first I've seen in an apartment - stocked condiments - oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, coffee, tea just to name a few. In the fridge a delicious platter of local seasonal fruit, juice, multigrain bread, butter, jams, milk and an added surprise - dark Lindt chocolate. A flat screen TV, stereo system, board games and free WiFi adding to the comforts of my stay.
The bathroom is still original in style - but there's nothing wrong with that. Strong water pressure with lots of room to move and lay out your toiletries is rare these days, as these old style bathrooms tend to be renovated and refurbished by their owners. Shower gel is supplied, as is washing powder for the laundry, meant all I needed to bring to this apartment was food and I was ready settle in.
The two bedrooms downstairs are comfortable, and both have balconies taking in views of the Coral Sea and surrounding islands.
Experience waking up to the sound of birds singing in the rainforest, coupled with the sound of fierce loud crashing waves. This is ocean and nature as one. Watching the sunrise with its glistening rays reflecting on the water and beaming into the apartment, felt as if mother nature was letting me know how beautiful mornings really are if I just took notice. On this morning, it was hard not to.
Breakfast with fresh seasonal local produce. Photo: Management
After witnessing the best sunrise in the world and enjoying breakfast on the outdoor patio, I walked to the beach just down the hill from the villa. Yorkeys Knob is not as touristy as some of the other beaches in Cairns, however there's a lovely mix of locals and tourists who don't hold back wishing you a good morning.
This villa was the first built on the hill in the 1970's, a dream Gail and her late husband Don shared extending and adding rooms over many years. Gail has been welcoming people for over 20 years, having made her start hosting Aussie BBQ's for Americans before deciding to open her home and turn it into a B&B. Her hard work rewarded by winning a Cairns Tourism and Hospitality Award in 2009. Her motto is "treat people as you'd like to be treated, and make a home for others as comfortable as yours."
Relax by the pool area while taking in the ocean views
Gail would drop in every afternoon with a large tray overflowing with the next morning's breakfast. Her beaming smile radiating after walking down so many stairs, reminiscent of something similar I'd experience in Europe. Don't be surprised if you're out for the day to find your washing taken off the line and folded for you.
Enjoy the view out to the Coral Sea, Cairns Ranges and surrounding islands from the huge patio area
There are no strict check in and check out times either, Gail works around you. On the last day I couldn't help but feel a little sad I was leaving this hidden gem - my piece of Greek paradise in the tropics.
The place does need a little work done even though the villa has retained it's original old charm. At this stage, it's real value for money. A perfect weekend escape.
A peaceful place to paint, read a book by the pool, write, collate your thoughts, or even photograph nature.
Will I be back again? Definitely. I may even see the dolphins Gail tells me sometimes frolic in the ocean next time round.
It's not just a break, it's an experience.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Qantas, Tigerair fly into Cairns as do a few international carriers. From Cairns Airport Gail can pick you up, or hire a car and make your own way there.