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Cairns
Travel Guide

Cairns showing coral, tropical scenes and landscape views

This tropical city is relaxed and friendly, and a step away from unspoilt beaches, pristine rain forest and the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

Cairns is a small city in tropical North Queensland. It’s bordered by two World Heritage-listed sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the 135-million-year-old rain forests of the Daintree and Cape Tribulation. The city itself has more than 150,000 residents and features parks and museums. Restaurants and cafés line white sand beaches, and a steady stream of backpackers brings a lively nightlife. Rent a car or book a tour and head out of town to explore the surrounding natural wonders. Buses also run between towns and major attractions.

Many visitors come to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef, which lies in the Coral Sea just off the city’s coast. It takes about two hours to get there by boat. Enjoy the marine life, colorful coral and year-round warm water through a snorkel or a glass-bottomed boat.

The Daintree Rainforest covers about 1,00 square miles (2,600 square kilometers) north of Cairns. Walk through untouched tropical rain forest that’s teeming with wildlife. Get a bird’s-eye view from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a 4.6-mile (7.5-kilometer) journey above the canopy. During your Skyrail journey you can stop at Barron Gorge National Park, with its deep gorge and waterfalls, and the arty village of Kuranda.

Cairns is surrounded by beaches. Clifton Beach is a 20-minute drive north of the city. The sleepy town features a long, unspoilt beach that’s lined with palm trees and bordered by forest. Cairns Tropical Zoo is here, and features a range of native Australian animals.

The creeks and rivers around Cairns are home to crocodiles. Go to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, a reptile park 40 minutes north of Cairns, where you can get close enough to feed them.

Learn about local Aboriginal history and culture at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, a 20-minute drive from Cairns.

Much of the community activity in Cairns happens along the Esplanade. Locals gather in this waterfront parkland to make the most of year-round warm weather with outdoor barbecues and a lagoon for swimming. Finish the day with dinner and a drink at the bars and restaurants that line the boardwalk and look out over the ocean.

Cairns Travel Guide Video

Where to stay in Cairns

Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
5 out of 5
Pierpoint Road, Cairns, QLD
The price is ¥19,127 per night from May 10 to May 11
This family-friendly Cairns hotel is located on the boardwalk, within a 10-minute walk of Reef Fleet Terminal and Cairns Esplanade. Cairns Convention Centre ...
4.4/5Excellent! (973 reviews)
"Excellent location close to the marina and so many of Cairns great restaurants only steps away Our room was large and comfortable with great amenities the walk in shower was huge Breakfast was good with lots of choices the staff have adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions well with still being able ..."

Reviewed on Apr 3, 2021

Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns
4.5 out of 5
121-123 The Esplanade & Florence St, Cairns, QLD
The price is ¥13,014 per night from Apr 22 to Apr 23
Located in Cairns Central Business District, this luxury hotel is steps from Center of Contemporary Arts and Cairns Esplanade. Cairns Marlin Marina and Reef ...
4.2/5Very Good! (1,000 reviews)
"Nice and close to shops and restaurants"

Reviewed on Apr 14, 2021

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns
Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns
Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns
4 out of 5
209-217 Abbott Street, Cairns North, QLD
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is ¥12,291 per night from Apr 27 to Apr 28
Located in Cairns North, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Cairns Private Hospital and Cairns Esplanade. Cairns Marlin Marina and Reef Fleet Terminal ...
4.1/5Very Good! (960 reviews)
"Close walking distance to everything, rooms are quiet"

Reviewed on Apr 14, 2021

Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Imagine Drift Palm Cove
Imagine Drift Palm Cove
4 out of 5
Cnr Veivers Rd Williams Esp, Palm Cove, QLD
The price is ¥15,064 per night from Apr 27 to Apr 28
Located in Palm Cove, this beachfront apartment building is in the entertainment district and within 1 mi (2 km) of Kuranda National Park and Palm Cove Beach. ...
4.3/5Excellent! (480 reviews)
"position position position getting a bit outdated but pool garden spa reception staff great"

Reviewed on Apr 13, 2021

Imagine Drift Palm Cove
Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore
Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore
5 out of 5
1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove, QLD
The price is ¥39,095 per night from Apr 29 to Apr 30
Nestled on the beach, this Palm Cove aparthotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kuranda National Park and Palm Cove Beach. Clifton Beach is 1.8 mi (2.9 km) away.
4.7/5Exceptional! (441 reviews)
"Friendly staff, perfect location, so clean. Restaurant based at the hotel was fantastic. The pools were awesome. Will be back"

Reviewed on Jan 17, 2021

Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore
Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort
Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort
3.5 out of 5
23-51 Anderson Road, Woree, QLD
The price is ¥9,869 per night from Apr 18 to Apr 19
This family-friendly Cairns campground is located in Woree, within 2 mi (3 km) of Cairns Golf Club, Wet Tropics of Queensland, and Dinden Conservation Park. ...
4.7/5Exceptional! (503 reviews)
"Very happy with our 2 night stay in a 2 bedroom villa, the water parks and play ground are fantastic, the gaming room could use a upgrade but is not really necessary due to the other activities around the park. Villa was very clean and spacious the only negative would be the shower head was terrible. ..."

Reviewed on Feb 19, 2021

Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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