Cairns is a great starting point if you’re keen on exploring the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and the unmissable, lush rainforests and beaches that the state of Queensland has to offer.Although Cairns itself is tiny and can easily be explored in a day, it’s a good place to base yourself if you want to venture further afield. The weather is distinctly tropical (hot and humid) in comparison to other cities on the East coast so be prepared and bring lots of bug spray!
Here are my top suggestions:
There is no beach in Cairns but the esplanade hosts a large saltwater swimming pool and a 3km long broadwalk where you can take leisurely walks. There is also a harbour nearby where most of the GBR tours depart from and where cruise ship passengers alight.Flecker Botanic Gardens
These gardens are full of greenery and rainforest plants. There are also free guided walks on offer on a daily basis.The Night Market and Rusty’s market
The Night Market has lots of Asian food options and is a good place for souvenir shopping.
For fresh food and a quick snack, head to Rusty’s Market. You have to try the Vietnamese coffee at Annee’s Cafe – it was so good!Cairns Aquarium
Worth seeing, especially if you are with kids. Lots of really beautiful sea life to see and learn about. It’s a tad pricey though with a ticket for an adult costing $42 (AUD).Cairns Art Gallery
This free gallery is worth a visit – it’s quite small but hosts artwork from local artists.Palm Cove
Palm cove is a small town by the beach, with hotels and restaurants lining the esplanade. You can get here by taking the 110 bus from the centre of Cairns which takes around 45 mins-1 hour.
There is a distinct ‘sleepy’ vibe to this place so great for some R&R! The beach is beautiful and, as the name suggests, is lined with tall palm trees that provide some much needed shade. Just beware of the crocodiles!Other
Although I didn’t have time to visit, other attractions include the Cairns Museum and the Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome, the world’s first challenge ropes course in a wildlife park. You can enjoy interactive Australian wildlife presentations here too. The Dome is at the top of the Reef Hotel Casino.
Day trips from Cairns
In my opinion, the day/extended trips from Cairns are the main reason to visit the city. These include trips to see the GBR (snorkelling or diving!), Kuranda, Port Douglas, the Atherton tablelands, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest. More on the day trips I took in my next post!
Thanks for reading!