Beginners Guide to Cairns

Cairns is the gateway to the a Great Barrier Reef and popular all year around with visitors and local Queenslanders alike. While international travel is still a fair way off, Australians are taking the opportunity to explore their own country. While in Cairns it is best to get out of the city during the day and explore up and down the coast from the coast through to the rainforests.

Getting There

Cairns is serviced by Australia’s three main airlines; Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia. Each fly to Cairns from all capital cities. However, check on travel restrictions with each airline before you book.


Cairns has many hotels centrally located to suit all budgets. Many hotels are located centrally with easy access to the reef tour terminal. Popular with travellers are The Mantra, The Baileys or The Ramada.

Eating Out

The Esplanade along the coast had a diverse range of restaurants, cafes and bars to satisfy all appetites and diets. Popular choices are Villa Romana and The Courtyard.

Venture onto the waterfront for dining with a view at The Backyard or Ochre. .

Things To Do

Day trip to the Daintree Rainforest

Tropical North Queensland is known for its rainforests and Cairns is one of the gateways from which you can explore them. It is recommended that you book a tour of the Daintree rainforest as there are many hidden surprises awaiting you which an experienced guide can advise you on.

Day Trip to Moore Reef

Take a 90 minute cruise out to a purpose built pontoon on Moore Reef for a day water activities. Once on the pontoon you can snorkel, dive or sea walk your way through the day viewing the beautiful sea and marine life beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Day trip to Green Island

Depart Cairns in a purpose built catamaran for the one hour and 15 minute trip to Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Once there you can explore the island at your leisure. The island is popular for snorkelling, diving and swimming. If you are not a strong swimmer you can take a glass bottom boat tour which leaves regularly from the pier.

Cairns Art Gallery

Take a welcome air conditioning break while exploring three floors of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Cairns Aquarium

View sea and marine life up close in the comfort of air conditioning. You can choose to take a guided tour to learn more about the fish, coral, turtles and crocodiles. Then stop for lunch in the on site restaurant Dundee’s where fish will swim around you in their tanks.

The Lagoon

An outdoor public swim mining pool located on the Esplanade. It is the largest man made saltwater lagoon in Australia. Swim in the safe watchful eye of a lifeguard and stay cool on a humid Cairns summer day. The lagoon is popular with locals and visitors. There are not many swimming beaches in Cairns and the lagoon is a convenient alternative.

Cairns Night Markets

Take a stroll through the markets which start at the Esplanade and go through to Abbott Street. Inside you will find a variety of small stalls selling gifts, clothes, trinkets and an assortment of goods. There is even a good court to satisfy your appetite afterwards.

Cape Tribulation

Walk in the footsteps of Captain Cook at Cape Tribulation. Named after the trials and tribulations the English navigator encountered on his way along Australia’s east coast. Although the beach looks calm and peaceful, danger lurks in the water. A sign warns you not to go in the water as crocodiles inhabit this stretch of beach. It is a beautiful, peaceful stretch of beach but be vigilant for crocodiles lurking nearby – especially at night.

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