Cairns at night from the air

Where to go

Cairns & Northern Beaches

Cairns is the Bustling Heart of Tropical North Queensland

Hop on a boat for the Great Barrier Reef, venture inland in search of lush rainforest or just kick back and embrace the laid-back tropical lifestyle.

One of the things that defines this part of the world for me is the cloud that rests gently on the tips of the mountains as dawn comes up over Cairns

Andy Ridley – CEO, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

Salt house people eating


Cairns has grown from ramshackle port town to stylish modern city – the erstwhile capital of Tropical North Queensland, with a year-round outdoor lifestyle. You’ll feel like you’re on holiday from the minute you arrive. The sun is shining, the air is steamy and palm trees line the streets. Throw out the schedule, throw on your swimsuit and settle in for a seriously good time.

cairns botanical gardens


The Tanks Art Centre hosts live music, comedy, contemporary art exhibitions, workshops and children’s theatre in an intimate venue. Walk through the leafy Botanic Gardens, along the shore of Lake Morris or tackle the winding steps of the Red Arrow track through the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.

prawn star cairns



But don’t let that small-town vibe fool you. With its distinctive multicultural mix, Cairns buzzes with innovative eateries, on-trend bars, stylish boutiques and galleries. Visit laneway bar Three Wolves to taste one of the 50 types of whiskey on the menu, or check out Prawn Star, a prawn trawler turned floating restaurant that serves up some of the freshest local prawns and seafood in the city – with a cold brew, of course!

Great Barrier Reef aerial


The city is tucked between two of Tropical North Queensland’s greatest natural treasures – the marine playground of the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics Rainforest, which means adventure is never far away. Almost 30 boats leave Cairns every day for the reef and in less than an hour you can be snorkelling or diving in Australia’s most spectacular underwater environment. Inland, hike through sun-dappled forest on the Douglas Track to Glacier Rock, swim in the cascading pools of nearby Crystal Cascades or glide just metres over the canopy of tropical rainforest on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Swimming in Cairns lagoon



There’s no beach in Cairns, so locals and visitors alike cool off in the sparkling Esplanade Lagoon. This 4800 sq m saltwater pool is lined with parks, shady banyan trees, boardwalks and barbecues.

Holloways Beach


If you need a beach fix, head for Cairns’ Northern Beaches, a string of sleepy seaside villages about 15 minutes from the city. They are a favourite with locals and each has its own unique character, like the family-friendly Trinity, the kite-surfing hub of Yorkeys Knob or the relaxed Holloways.

Guide to Cairns beaches


  • Burn off some of the holiday calories with one of the free outdoor exercise classes held six mornings a week along the Esplanade. Choose from aqua aerobics in the lagoon, Zumba, yoga, pilates, boxing, beach volleyball and more.

  • Rusty’s Market has been supplying Cairns with its fresh fruit and vegetables for more than 40 years. Juicy mangoes, native bush fruits, excellent coffee and pop-up food trucks are just some of the temptations. Open Friday and Saturday, 5am-6pm; Sunday, 5am-3pm.

  • Cairns is a very welcoming city and you’ll feel at home right away. It’s also easy to get around and everything in the CBD is within walking distance.

  • Each November sees the annual coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef. This is a great time to visit for snorkelling or diving.

Discover More

There’s so much to do in Cairns. Check out the bustling markets and vibrant nightlife, or use the city as a jumping-off point to explore the Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics Rainforest or the Atherton Tablelands.

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Getting here

  • Runway at Cairns airport

    By air

    Air travel is a popular choice of transport for many tourists traveling to Tropical North Queensland, with direct flights from all major cities and also from a number of Australia’s regional centres.

  • By boat

    Cairns Ports North hosts numerous large cruise ships and private boats regularly throughout the calendar year. Board from one of many Queensland coastal towns.

  • View of Walshs Pyramid

    By car

    Why not turn your holiday to Tropical North Queensland into an “epic road trip”? If along the way you feel peckish, stop at some of the farmers markets or roadside fruit stalls and savour gorgeous local tropical fruits.

  • Greyhound bus in Cairns

    By coach

    Coaches depart multiple times daily from Brisbane and travel up the east coast to Tropical North Queensland. The direct journey can take approximately 30 hours, so you can relax and experience the ever-changing scenery as you travel through almost 2000km of Queensland countryside.


From five-star to budget-friendly, you will find an abundance of accommodation in Cairns.

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

Around here, palm trees are your frond 🌴😉 If ever the statement “so much to do, so little time” rang true of a destination, #Cairns would be the place 🙌 With the @gbrmarinepark in our front yard & the @wettropicsworldheritage rainforest out the back, the best thing you could bring to your @tropicalnorthqueensland holiday is time ⏰🐠

Click the bio link to find out how you can spend your time in Cairns 👆
​📸 @kate_duffy #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #explorecairnsGBR
Discover the drive from Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands 🌿. It may come as a surprise that one area can encompass @wettropicsworldheritage rainforest, volcanic crater lakes & historic villages, but you can see all of this and more in the @athertontablelands 🌿✨ Discover the drive that dreams are made of as you travel from #Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands 🚘🦋

🎥 @_letsescapetogether_ #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Who needs teeth anyway? 🦷

Much like other iconic animals in @tropicalnorthqueensland, the crocodile is special to many Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people 🐊 Known to a number of Indigenous language groups near Cairns as Ganyarra, the crocodile is portrayed in stories, dance, music & is a totem to some Traditional Owner groups. 

If you’re interested in learning about some of the traditional stories of these incredible creatures, join one of the many Indigenous tours around Tropical North Queensland & ask your friendly guide 🌴💚 

📸 @solar_whisper #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
If this isn’t the cutest creature you’ve ever seen, you’ve got to be echidding yourself 😉🦔 Spotted strolling along the waterfront in Yarrabah, this echidna might be heading into town to explore some of the incredible cultural events & exhibitions 🌺

If there’s one stop you want to make while you’re here, it’s the Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct! The precinct showcases Aboriginal culture, art, identity and history through authentic handmade pottery, painting, woven baskets, placemats and textiles 🖌 

Planning a trip for later in the year? Get involved in the festivities of the Yarrabah Music & Cultural Festival. Harking back to 1901 when people gathered to hear the Yarrabah Brass Band, the festival now plays host to a full day of music, arts and food to celebrate local talent, who perform alongside national music acts. You can expect hands-on demonstrations like spear making, shield making & weaving 🪕🎶

📸 FB/myPolice Greater Cairns #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland
Raising the bar with IRONMAN Cairns in 2021 🏃‍♂️✨. Raising the bar with @ironmanoceania 👟☀️

From the moment he touched down in Cairns, to the moment he crossed the finish line, there was no doubt that @reidy__ would go sub 10 🏃‍♂️

Stay tuned for more highlights from the 2021 IRONMAN in Cairns 📣

🎥 @seven8digital #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Looking for adventure? Try the almighty Kahlpahlim Rock 🌄 Standing at an incredible 1300m above sea level, this landmark is the highest point of the Lamb Range in Dinden National Park ⛰ The 12.6km hike will take you around 6 hours to complete. While the view from the top might be spectacular, it's all about the journey on this hike 🥾 You'll cross crystal clear creeks, breathtaking rock formations & diverse plant life before finding yourself looking out over some epic views of Cairns 😍

📸 @jacintapink #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia
The view of #EmeraldCreek that you might not have seen ✨🌌 This stunning @athertontablelands gem (get it? 😉) is one of the most photogenic spots around 💦 With breathtaking walking trails & awe-inspiring views of the valley, plus the unmissable #EmeraldCreekFalls 🙌 To get here from Cairns, head off along the Kennedy Highway towards Mareeba for about an hour 🚙

📸 @evjocks #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland  #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia

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