People by the pool at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon with the fish sculptures in the background in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

Joseph Trentacosti/Getty

Cairns Esplanade, Boardwalk & Lagoon

Top choice in Cairns

Sunseekers and fun-lovers flock to Cairns Esplanade's spectacular swimming lagoon on the city’s reclaimed foreshore. The artificial, sandy-edged, 4800-sq-metre saltwater pool with its Woven Fish sculptures, is lifeguard patrolled and illuminated nightly. The adjacent 3km foreshore boardwalk has picnic areas, birdwatching vantage points, sculptures, free barbecues and fitness equipment. Follow the signposts for the excellent Muddy's, which has playgrounds and water fun for little kids, and the skate ramp, beach volleyball courts, bouldering park and Fun Ship playground.

Markets, concerts, festivals and free fitness classes are regular occurrences on the Esplanade; check the website for happenings.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cairns attractions

1. Reef Eye

0.07 MILES

Soak up stunning views of the Coral Sea and Cairns city aboard this 35m-high Ferris wheel. The fully enclosed gondolas rotate 360 degrees (passengers…

2. Cairns Art Gallery

0.14 MILES

The permanent collection of this acclaimed gallery has an emphasis on local and Indigenous work. It also hosts prominent visiting exhibitions and…

3. Samurai Gallery

0.22 MILES

This unusual gallery and museum displays genuine armour, swords and arts from the Japanese samurai. Owner John Grasso has been collecting swords and…

4. KickArts Contemporary Arts

0.24 MILES

These galleries showcase cutting-edge local and regional artworks, plus touring exhibitions. KickArts has moved to the School of the Arts while the Centre…

5. Cairns Museum

0.25 MILES

This contemporary museum features four well-curated galleries covering the history of Cairns and Far North Queensland in pictures, exhibits and local…

6. Reef Teach

0.26 MILES

Take your knowledge to new depths at this fun, informative centre, where marine experts explain how to identify specific species of fish and coral, and…

7. Cairns Aquarium

0.29 MILES

Cairns' multi-million-dollar aquarium is well worth a visit for its vast and gorgeously presented range of marine life, the Great Barrier Reef in…

8. St Monica's Cathedral


Cairns' main Catholic church is famous for its themed stained-glass windows, the largest of their type in the world. There are 24 windows depicting the…