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

ALFRESCO ALLURE

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

TAKE A DEEP BREATH

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

 

A TASTE OF THE TROPICS

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

AT THE DOORSTEP OF THE REEF

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

 

INTO THE BLUE

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

ON THE BEACHES

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

Tips

  • 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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8 Road Trips From Cairns

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Guide to the Red Arrow walking trail in Cairns

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Cairns Esplanade aerial

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.

Stay

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

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

Did you know that the fish sculptures at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, by Torres Strait Islander artist Brian Robinson, are modelled on smaller fish usually woven with palm leaves in traditional Indigenous artwork 🐠🌴 #Cairns is the perfect place to spend the day on your next tropical holiday - quirky markets, incredible food & luxury stays, this is where your holiday begins ☀️🌊 
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​📸 @danandmoore #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia  #thisisqueensland
There’s nothing that stays with you quite like the moment you leap off @australia’s only bungy tower 🪂🤙

At @skyparkcairns, there’s a level of adrenaline suitable for every member of the family, from plunging head first into the natural lagoon below, to swinging amongst the rainforest canopy, or even a simple adventure to the top of the tower for incredible views over #Cairns 🌿✨ If you fancy a little bit of adrenaline with your feet still firmly planted on the ground, the new Walk the Plank experience sees you stepping out onto a plank 140m above sea level 🙌

If you’re not so keen on the adrenaline pumping action, Skypark Cairns is also a great place for lunch and drinks 🍻

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #bungyjump #bungy #adrenaline
There’s more to do on your visit to @kurandavillage than shop up a storm at the markets 🛍 This rainforest village is where you'll find the largest butterfly aviary in @australia, home to 12 different native species & over 1500 fluttering butterflies 🦋 Add @australianbutterflysanctuary to your school holiday must do list now for a guaranteed magical experience with the region’s most famous winged creatures – the Ulysses & Cairns Birdwing 🐛🌱
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​📸 @sarahjanegriffiths #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland  #seeaustralia #explorecairnsGBR
It's beginning to look like Christmas on the #CairnsEsplanade 🎄☀️ Palm trees are swaying, lights are twinkling & the decorations have been dusted off for another year as we count down the days until Santa arrives 🎅Where better to get a view of this magnificent tree than from atop Oaks Cairns Hotel at @oakandvinerestaurant? 🍹
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Did you see the Christmas tree light up last week? ✨​

​📸 @albuquerquedelma  #thisisqueensland #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia
There’s something sow amazing about gardens, right? 😉

If you’re a little bit of a green thumb, you might want to spend a little time exploring this beauty in Cairns 🍃 The Flecker Botanic Gardens are home to an incredible array of plants & wildlife (mainly birds, but we could watch them all day! 🦜) Try a tour of the garden, check out the visitor information centre & let the kids explore their inner nature fanatic with the fortnightly activity program for children under five - there’s crafts, stories, sing alongs & garden discovery walks! 🌿

If you’re looking for a little more action, just a short walk or drive down the road you’ll find the Tanks Arts Centre & the many arrow walking trails 🥾🎭

📸 @taegs_takes_photos #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia  #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 👆
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​📸 @kate_duffy #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #explorecairnsGBR
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

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