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Cairns

Overview

Cairns is, indeed, at the heart of a 'paradise found'. To the north, magnificent beaches are signal points on the way to the vacation centres of Palm Cove, Port Douglas and the rainforest of the Daintree – World Heritage-listed and boasting the oldest rainforest on Earth.

To the west, as a backdrop to the vibrant, cosmopolitan, visitor-orientated city, the Barron Gorge National Park gives way to the agriculture-rich Atherton Tablelands. To the east, enjoy a plethora of experiences on the Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. On any given day, you'll find a flock of cruise ships setting sail from Cairns' harbour, bound for the largest coral reef system in the world or secluded outlying islands. Those who stay back on land, however, can be equally inspired and entertained. Whatever you do just make sure, in true Cairns' style, that you do it at a laidback pace.

Attractions:

Cairns is home to many of Australia's best known tourist attractions and the premier regional city in Australia and the gateway to Australia’s Tropical Rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. At the top of your to–do list should be the Great Barrier Reef, found just a cruise ride away. The Daintree Rainforest is another of Cairns' tourist attractions beloved for its abundant fauna and ancient flora, with parts of the forest dating back to over 135 million years ago.

South of the Daintree and only a short drive from Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands is another region worth exploring for its expansive country and farming scenery. See the area from above with a hot air balloon ride or scale even greater heights with a sky diving adventure.The natural surroundings of the glistening waters of the Coral Sea and the rainforest-clad mountain ranges combine to make Cairns a truly stunning location.

Things to Do:

Visit Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef, but don't miss the great things to do around this Far North Queensland town. Stunning beaches, spectacular hinterland, local and organic produce, brilliant cafés and bars, bustling markets and laid-back friendly people make Cairns a favourite destination. Relax by a resort pool or spend your days exploring.

Some of the major things to do in Cairns:

  • Snorkel, Scuba or see the Great Barrier Reef From the Air
  • Find Great Food and Nightlife in Cairns at Red Beret or at beautiful restaurants in Palm Cove.
  • Day Trip from Cairns to See Platypus in the Wild
  • Trek the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest
  • Ride Through the Rainforest on the Kuranda Train and Skyrail
  • Ride a Ferry to Fitzroy Island National Park
  • Catch Barramundi in One of Cairns’ Top Fishing Spots

Places to Stay:

Whatever your budget you will find something to suit with a huge choice of places to stay both in the city itself and at the beaches north of the city like Clifton, Kewarra and Palm Cove, and in the Atherton Tablelands.

Cairns is home to a swag of 5-star hotels, most of which embrace the city's coastal position. From the Pullman to the Shangri-La, Mantra, Hilton and Rydges, there are several big-name chains with strong reputations and competitive prices. For something easier on the hip pocket and higher up on the party scale, check out Gilligans Backpackers. Cairns has some of the city's best resorts, like the Shangri–la, congregating near the Esplanade and overlooking the ocean. Wonderful, up-market and spotless Vision Cairns is a must stay location. You don't need a car here; it is located on the esplanade, a short stroll to restaurants, the marina and the centre of town. Other hotels in Cairns can be found a few streets back from the Esplanade in the city centre as well as near the airport.

Best Time to visit:

If you want to visit Cairns, the best time to do so is from April through September. Why? Because the weather is brilliant, the water activities are plenty and the floor is all set for popular festivals and events to envelop you in their celebratory spirit. The clear and luminous skies combined with pleasant ocean air currents and dry weather allows travellers to give in to their adventurous side. Water and beach activities can be enjoyed to the fullest, including scuba-diving in the Great Barrier Reef during the winter months.

You’ll find many interesting events in the months of May, August and especially September. While August brings out the brilliance of the seas through the Underwater Film Festival, May pays a lyrical tribute to ‘blues’ music in the form of the Cairns Blues festival. September, on the other hand, treats its tourists to Festival Cairns, Cairns Buskers and Comedy Festival and Reggaeton Festival, which must be attended while you are there.

November through March are the months that you must avoid if you really want to appreciate all that Cairns has to offer. The weather is soggy and gloomy because of the onset of tropical monsoons in the region, which in turn, also becomes the cause for disruption of rail and road access to the city.