Family at Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

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

Rocco by Crystalbrook

THE REAL URBAN JUNGLE

Cairns has grown from ramshackle port town to stylish modern city – the erstwhile capital of Tropical North Queensland, with a year-round outdoor lifestyle. Here you can bar-hop, rock-hop or island-hop on the same day.

Welcome to Cairns, the real urban jungle

Leafy rainforest garden at the Cairns Botanic 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.

Rainforest near Cairns

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!

Eat local

 

Vlasoff Cay aerial Great Barrier Reef

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

The Great Barrier Reef

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.

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.

Emerald Creek Falls
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20 waterfalls near Cairns

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How to explore the rainforest near Cairns

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8 Road Trips From Cairns

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14 Cairns lookouts to soak up the scenery

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11 Best markets near 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.

What’s On

In Cairns, you can see a world-famous artist perform at the Tanks Art Centre, visit one of the monthly markets or cheer with the crowd at a local sporting match.

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

Hello Cairns Show 2022 👋

Don’t forget to head down to the @cairns_showgrounds this week and get involved in the festivities this year! 🎡🍹 13 - 15 July 2022 🎉

📸 @brophys_nq #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia 

[ID: Hand holding a pink unicorn drink bottle at the Cairns Show in front of a Ferris wheel]
If there’s one place in @tropicalnorthqueensland where ancient culture shines every day, it’s the Torres Strait Islands 💙🌴

Now you can explore this amazing place for yourself on a day trip with Strait Experience! 🙌

Starting with a scenic flight from Cairns, you’ll get the chance to see a myriad of incredible places, with traditional performances by local dance crews 💃🏻🪃 

To round up one amazing NAIDOC Week, check out some of the highlights from @queensland’s trip this year! 🌺

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland
Here’s just a few of the @cairnsindigenousartfair highlights from this year’s events 👣🪃

If you didn’t make it during the week, you can still visit the art fair and market stalls over the weekend! 

Make your way down to the Cairns Convention Centre and check out an incredible array of Indigenous arts, crafts and more all available for purchase 🌺🙌

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #ciaf #ciaf2022 #cairnsindigenousartfair
There’s a new bird on the block 🪺

Hey @purenewzealand, did you know that you can now fly direct from Auckland to Cairns with @airnz? 🌴 Today we said welcome back to our friends across the ditch for the first time in a year, and it looks like they're settling in with the locals already 😉

Prepare the pavlova…the Kiwis are coming 🥝 

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Fancy a ferris wheel ride overlooking the Cairns Esplanade? It’s time to check out @thereefeye 🎡🙌

#exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Did you know that @fitzroyisland was once connected to the mainland over 10,000 years ago? 🤯🌊

The island was originally called Koba (sometimes spelled Gabar, meaning the fist) by the Gunggandji people, who often spent time on the island 🌴 Their main territory was spread around the mountainous hillsides near Cairns & their dreamtime stories depict when the island became isolated some 8000 years ago 🏝

Today the island is a favourite among locals and visitors alike – and it’s not hard to see why! 🍹🪸

📸 @fitzroyisland #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Today, on ANZAC Day, we take some time to commemorate the brave men & women who have served our nation in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. 

Have you ever wondered about the history of Cairns & Tropical North Queensland during the World Wars? 🌿

Soldiers from all around the region joined the army to help protect Australia, including many Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people. 

For many, it may now be hard to imagine Cairns as the war zone it once was.  You will find a number of historical sites around the Cairns region that you can visit along the ANZAC trail as you learn the history of this incredible place ✨ 

Lest we forget ❤️
SPOTTED: new sand cay on the reef, but this one looks a little familiar to us 🤔🇦🇺

The @gbrmarinepark certainly is a wondrous place & it just got even better! ⛵️ Following aerial surveys of the reef over the last few weeks, this sand cay was spotted for the first time off the coast of Cairns 🏝 

Chief Marine Scientist Dr. Ray Ireland says, “Since sand cays are formed from a build up of sediment on the reef, they come in all shapes and sizes. We’re really interested in doing more research into the marine life around this cay.”

It’s not unusual for new sand cays to pop up or change shape over time, but it’s not every day you end up with a sand cay that looks like Australia! 🐠 

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland

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