Cairns has come a long way from struggling cane town to international resort city. It may not have a beach, but the mudflats and mangroves along the Esplanade foreshore have been replaced with a multimillion-dollar development of parks and the dazzling saltwater lagoon, with top-quality restaurants overlooking the marina. And if you do want some sand, it’s a short local bus ride or easy drive to the Cairns’ Northern Beaches.
Old salts claim Cairns has sold its soul, but it has an infectious holiday vibe. The CBD (central business district) is more board shorts than briefcases – a mini-urban jungle of tour shops, booking agents, car-hire agents and internet cafes.
For many visitors, this is the end of the line on the East Coast jaunt (or the start for those flying into Cairns’ international airport), and the city is awash with bars and nightclubs, as well as accommodation and eateries in all price ranges. It’s a perfect place to meet other travellers, and to kick off your Far North experience.
Best places to stay in Cairns
Australia - Queensland & The Great Barrier Reef (Chapter)
From the surf-soaked Gold Coast beaches to the tropical Daintree rainforest, Queensland offers an array of distractions, including the submarine kingdom of the Great Barrier Reef, and islands - photogenic coral-fringed beauties or rugged sand isles ripe for adventure.
How to explore the Great Barrier Reef
Stretching over 2000km along the eastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier is a mind-blowing natural wonder. This marine wonderland and Unesco World Heritage Site harbours one of richest ecosystems on the planet.
Queensland & the Great Barrier Reef - Cairns, Islands & Highlands (Chapter)
This is the Cairns, Islands & Highlands chapter from Lonely Planet’s Queensland & the Great Barrier Reef guidebook. Coverage includes: Cairns, Babinda, Bramston Beach, Wooroonooran National Park, Cairns’ Northern Beaches, Machans Beach, Holloways Beach, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach & Around, Clifton Beach, Palm Cove, Ellis Beach, Islands off Cairns, Green Island, Fitzroy Island, Frankland Islands, Atherton Tableland, Kuranda, Mareeba, Chillagoe, Atherton & around, Herberton, Mt Hypipamee National Park, Ravenshoe, Millaa Millaa, Innot Hot Springs, Malanda & around, Yungaburra, Lake Tinaroo and Crater Lakes National Park.
Cairns destination guides
What to do in November in Australia
Ah, November, that strange month before the Christmas holiday madness really begins. Before the silly season gets into full swing, here are some quick holiday breaks around the country.
Tully River Full-Day White Water Rafting from Cairns including BBQ Lunch
Want to go white water rafting on your vacation to Tropical North Queensland? Go rafting on the the Tully River on this action packed full-day white water rafting adventure from Cairns! The Tully River rafting adventure, one of Australia's most popular rafting excursions, winds through World Heritage Rainforest and offers rapids up to grade 4.
Cairns Arrival Transfer: Airport to Hotel
Welcome to Cairns Airport. Don't arrive and wonder what to do next and how to get to your hotel - book now and let a pre scheduled airport transfer take all that worry away for you! Operated with regular transfers from Cairns Airport to most Cairns city hotels, Northern Beaches hotels, Port Douglas hotels and Silky Oaks Lodge.
Australia’s alternative East Coast road trip
Australia is enormous, and there's no sharper way to realise that than embarking on a classic Australian road trip. So come with us on a journey along the east coast of this massive continent - a journey from Sydney to Cairns that dodges the tourist crowds in favour of some alternative treasures.