Matt and I spent most of last November trying to come up with a rough itinerary of the things we wanted to do and places we needed to see in Australia. There were a few obvious stops, including Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay and Cairns.
As we began researching vans, activities, travel companies and hostels, we came across Mad Monkey Backpackers, and their special Black Friday contest. The company had just opened a new hostel in Cairns, and was offering two nights free accommodation to the winner. All we had to do was follow them and comment on the contest photo, on both Facebook and Instagram. Simple, easy and very exciting. You could imagine how thrilled we were when Mad Monkey contacted us to say I had won the contest a few days later. We booked in advance for February, as that’s when we planned to arrive in Cairns. Our weekend quickly turned into a week though, and we were happy to extend out stay, as this hostel blew away all expectations!
Arrival At Mad Monkey Cairns:
We arrived on Saturday 24 February, and were quickly greeted by Liza, the general manager of Mad Monkey Cairns. Our room wasn’t ready just yet as we had arrived before check in, but we were able to store our bags in a locked luggage room free of charge! Liza then took us for a tour around the hostel, showing us where we could find everything and introducing us to various members of staff. We were given the password for the hostel-wide free WiFi and shown all the facilities and amenities Mad Monkey Cairns had to offer!
I could have spent all weekend on the floating bean bags, but the hostel also has an assortment of pool toys, from water guns to inflatable crocodiles and unicorns, to keep everyone entertained. Matt and I quickly got into a water gun fight Saturday morning, and even the staff joined in! We had so much fun, chasing one another around the pool, jumping in and playing for the water gun, I simply couldn’t stop laughing.
When we were ready to dry off, there were tons of lounge chairs to sunbathe on, and a few four-poster sunbeds in the shade (a perfect spot to sit and read a book). As it was the weekend, the pool was pretty busy, but we were more than happy to share. It’s a great place to meet people. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and listening to the country music play from the bar while I soaked up the sun in the pool!
At 1pm, we checked into our room. The contest offered a private double for two people, and it was beautiful! Mad Monkey Cairns has been open for a year and recently underwent some renovations, so everything was new. The bed had a lovely soft duvet, a runner and two fresh towels! In addition to this, there was a mirror, hooks to hang our clothes on, a bedside table and two large lockers. This is the first time I’ve ever been in a private room with lockers, and when I say large… I could easily fit into it! There was also air conditioning, which was a relief after being outside in the warm, humid air in Cairns. If it was too cold though, we could easily turn it off and open the windows at night.
The room was so lovely, Matt and I really appreciated the space to ourselves and loved not sharing a dorm for a few nights.
The room was up on the second floor, next to the bar, but it wasn’t loud. Within walking distance were showers and toilets, below was the kitchen and walk-in fridge. A perfect location within the hostel!
The Monkey Bar and Lush Pizza:
After taking the time to explore around the hostel and get settled in, the atmosphere at the bar was too good to ignore any longer, and we quickly went back down to join in the activities. The Monkey Bar is decorated with colourful event posters, international money and flamingo fairy lights (did anyone else spot the Canadian Tire money??).
Happy Hour is on every day from 4pm-6pm, offering a drink and meal for $10. As the name suggests, Lush Pizza, the restaurant next door, makes the most delicious pizzas in Cairns, and they serve to the Mad Monkey customers, directly in the bar. Don’t just take my word for it, check out the Lush Pizza Instagram and it will leave your mouth watering too!
While placing our Happy Hour order, Matt quickly noticed all the draught beer comes from a local Cairns brewery, called Coral Sea. We spent all weekend trying out all the different types of Coral Sea beer they hostel offered (Tropic Lager, Tropic Ale, Tropic Wheat, Tropic IPA and even their new Tropic Cider).
As part of the contest, Mad Monkey Cairns treated us to a free meal and drink. Matt had the Supreme Pizza with Tropic Lager, while I had the Chicken Pesto Pasta with a schooner of Tropic Wheat (it was soooo good, we’ve had the pasta twice). The pasta also had fresh pumpkin in it, which took this meal to the next level. Seriously, have you looked at their menu yet?
Later in the evening, there was also a free BBQ, which takes place every Saturday! Many of the other hostel guests were playing drinking games and getting ready to go out for the evening, so we had the opportunity to join in and meet tons of people (some were from Canada and knew of my hometown – Caledon). Matt and I ended up as Mad Monkey Beer Pong Champions for the night, winning a total of 5 games!
When the bar closed at midnight, as it does every night of the week, we followed everyone to one of the local bars for a few more drinks. Why not?
A Backpackers Dream Come True… Free Breakfast:
The best part of waking up late on Sunday morning was free breakfast, which runs until 11am! Tea, coffee, cereal, toast, beans, yogurt, fruit, juice and even freshly made pancakes… it was delicious. Breakfast wasn’t just for us, it’s actually offered by the hostel daily, and always stays open until 11am. There are 3 types of cereal and a porridge to choose from, several yogurts, freshly cut apples and oranges, and two types of fruit juice. There’s even an option between full-fat and low-fat milk! It seriously could not get any better than this.
Breakfast is made by a few members of staff who are always welcoming and up for a chat, when they aren’t too busy flipping pancakes. This is by far the best hostel breakfast we have ever come across, and it’s served like this at all Mad Monkey hostels.
Mad Monkey Events:
We were able to take part in the Sunday SESH Pool Party! What I loved about this event, is that there are four Mad Monkey hostels in Cairns, and the party runs across 3 of the different locations (depending on the weather), so everyone is welcome to join. It starts at Mad Monkey Cairns on Sheridan Street at 12pm every Sunday, heads up the road to Mad Monkey NJoy at 2pm and stays at Mad Monkey Tropics from 4pm until the end of the night. It was a great way to meet new people and explore the other hostels, playing games in the pool with everyone. Each pool had inflatables, a net for volleyball, noodles and water guns.
Once we arrived at Mad Monkey Tropics, the bar was full of people getting drinks for the beer pong tournament, and yet there were still tons of action going on in the pool. The music was upbeat and the DJ had us dancing, singing and laughing with everyone. You could imagine why we chose to extend our stay!
Watch the Sunday SESH Pool Party Video and see if you can spot Matt!
Each night of the week hosts a different event at Mad Monkey Cairns:
Tuesday: Wildlife Party (and Open Mic Night at Mad Monkey Tropics)
Wednesday: Pub Crawl
Thursday: Quiz Night
Friday: Beer Pong Tournament
Saturday: Free BBQ
Sunday: SESH Pool Party
In addition to Sunday’s pool party, we went to the Wildlife Party on Tuesday night (as we extended our stay). Zoo To You came to the hostel and let us hold a black-headed python and a 2-year old fresh water crocodile!
We spent a few hours talking with the staff about the animals, getting to know their backgrounds and discussing all the wildlife we’ve encountered in our time in Australia (so far). When the party ended at 8pm, we took the next shuttle bus to Mad Monkey Tropics and enjoyed their Open Mic night. They had tons of great local acts, and I was tempted to get up and sing…maybe next time!
It’s Not Just About The Party:
I loved the social aspect at night, but you would not believe what else this hostel offers….
- Gym Membership – Available to both staff and guests staying at any of the Mad Monkey hostels, you can access the local gym for up to an hour and a half, every day, for free. Unfortunately, we have yet to take them up on this incredible offer, but were blown away that they could provide this perk for guests!
- Cinema Room – Complete with comfy sofas, Netflix and FIFA, you know where to find me on a rainy afternoon.
- Board Games – Take your pick and challenge me to a board game anytime, any day. Located next to the bar, you’ll find a mixture of classics, cards and dice for your choosing. In addition to board games, don’t forget, beer pong is set up every night in front of the bar and it’s there for everyone to play.
- Shared Bookshelf – We all know how much I like to read, and they have a really great bookshelf right in reception! I’ve already got my eye on Dan Brown and Jojo Moyes novels. The rule is simply ‘leave a book, take a book’ so the hostel always has new books available (I check every time we walk past reception).
- Free Bike Hire – Mad Monkey Cairns offers these super cute, turquoise coloured bikes that are free to use for the day. The hostel asks for a small deposit, which is returned when the bike is brought back to the hostel. We’ve been taking the hourly shuttle bus to town most days, but look forward to taking the bikes out this week.
- A Hidden Balcony – Around the corner from our room on the second floor, is a hidden balcony, overlooking Sheridan Street. It was covered in a soft grass turf with an assortment of large beanbags, making it the perfect location to chill and watch a passing storm!
If that’s not enough to convince you to stay here, I don’t know what is. Don’t forget to check out the Mad Monkey Cairns Video, put together by the team to showcase everything the hostel has to offer.
Easily the best part of our stay here was meeting the staff. Everyone has been kind, friendly and helpful. There are tons of Canadians (some who even know of my hometown) and Brits, and we’d like to shout out to Liza and Jeremy for making us feel so welcome, and ensuring we enjoyed ourselves at all time. Also a big thanks to Val, who chose us as the contest winners and helped us book in our stay at Mad Monkey Cairns!
As you can see, we had a really great time at Mad Monkey Cairns, and this hostel has a whole lot more to offer than you can imagine. We got a taste of the Mad Monkey world during our two nights free accommodation from the contest, but we liked it so much, we’ve decided to stay. We’ve officially joined the Mad Monkey family as employees, working for accommodation and will be in Cairns for the next few months! We hope you’ll come join us soon, I promise you won’t regret it.
–Ally and Matt!