Visit Cairns Australia, considered the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, located in the tropical Far North Queensland. Its Learn stories of indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with music and dance at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Visit the Cairns Esplanade, lined with bars and restaurants, and a swimming lagoon. Or head northwest of the city to Daintree National Park where you will find a mountainous rain forest, gorges and beaches. Don’t miss the great things to do in and around town. You’ll find wonderful cafés, bustling markets and plenty of beaches nearby. Relax by a resort pool or spend your days exploring this tropical oasis.
Cairns Weather (When to Visit)
Cairns experiences hot and humid summers and mild, dry winters. The average annual maximum temperature is 84.2°F, with 62% humidity. During summer (December – February) average temperatures range from 74.5 to 88.5°F. The wet season begins building up around December, and most of the region’s annual rainfall occurs in the summer months. In March thru May, temperatures averaging between 70.7 to 84.2°F. During the winter (June – August) brings slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity, making it the peak tourist season. Average temperatures range from 63.5 to 78.8°F and there is low rainfall. During spring (September – November) average temperatures range from 68.9 to 84.2°F. This is the end of the dry season when humidity starts to build with the onset of the wet season from December. In November the reef comes alive with the annual coral spawning.
Stinger season or jellyfish season is generally between November and May in Cairns and Port Douglas. From November it is sensible to wear stinger suits in the water, as box jellyfish and Irukandji (the smallest of the box jellyfish family) can be deadly. Beaches are also lined with stinger nets. Out on the Great Barrier Reef the risk of marine stingers is low, however stinger suits are recommended and available for hire on tour boats.
Best Cairns Area Beaches
Trinity Beach is about a 20 minute drive north of Cairns and is a favourite with the locals. It is a relaxed family friendly beach with a chilled out vibe. It is sheltered between two large headlands giving you the feeling of being sheltered away from the rest of the world. Trinity Beach is a laid back residential beach so you will have the opportunity to mingle with the locals at one of the many bars, cafes or restaurants, along with free BBQ’s on the beachfront.
Palm cove is just further north from Trinity Beach and a 30 minute drive from Cairns. As the name suggests this stunning beach is fringed with swaying palm trees. Palm Cove is also a residential beach but is more of a boutique beach town with 5 star resorts and array of classy bars and restaurants along the esplanade.
Nudey Beach was ranked No. 1 in Australia’s Best Beaches Award for 2018 and is a small stretch of pristine, white sand that slopes gently into the calm, clear Coral Sea and surrounded by rainforest and granite boulders. The beach is relaxed and friendly and you can easily let time slip away as you laze on the sand and soak up the sun or snorkel amongst the coral straight from the beach.
Ellis Beach is a quiet, relaxed beach compare to its bustling neighbor, giving you plenty of space to enjoy a peaceful walk along the 6 kilometre stretch of soft, squeaky sand. It is totally undeveloped with the only accommodation available being the Ellis Beach Caravan Park which sits in a prime location right on the beach front.
Four Mile Beach
Four Mile Beach is the premier beach of Port Douglas and just a short 5 min stroll from the sophisticated and upmarket village center. It begins at the northern rocky headland and continues for 4 miles, stretching as far as the eye can see with no buildings or developments interrupting the breathtaking surroundings.
Best Cairns Tours & Activities
Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns
Spend six hours on the Great Barrier Reef at two different snorkel and dive sites on this luxury catamaran cruise from Cairns. Travel in style aboard a comfortable catamaran to a mooring off of Upolu Cay. Take a glass–bottom boat to Upolu Cay, then have time to snorkel or scuba dive. Refuel with a buffet lunch on board the catamaran before heading to your next destination, Upolu Reef, for more water time, including a guided snorkeling tour. Learn more about the Great Barrier Reef Tour.
Kuranda Scenic Railway Day Trip from Cairns
Explore the lush beauty, amazing wildlife and rich heritage of Tropical North Queensland on this customizable full-day trip to Kuranda from Cairns. Travel to this enchanting rain forest village aboard the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway, and choose from a variety of activities including visits to the Tjupakai Aboriginal Cultural Park and Rainforestation Nature Park. Hang out with koalas and exotic birds, browse local markets and opt to include a delicious buffet lunch. At the end of the day, glide through the treetops back to Cairns on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Learn more about the Kuranda Scenic Railway Trip.
Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns
If snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, don’t miss this day trip from Cairns. You’ll visit two different locations on the barrier reef for the chance to see tropical marine life in the clear waters. Lunch is included on board the boat, and you have the option to upgrade to include additional adventures such as introductory or certified scuba diving or a helicopter flight over this UNESCO World Heritage site. Both water sports enthusiasts and novices are welcome. Learn more about this Great Barrier Reef Activity.
Green Island Day Trip from Cairns
Explore the Great Barrier Reef and a lush island rain forest on this full-day catamaran tour to Green Island from Cairns. Create your own perfect day on this protected coral cay with a variety of activities including snorkeling, scuba diving, Seawalking, nature walks, and tours on a glass-bottom boat. Upgrade to include a delicious buffet lunch on board the catamaran and/or a ride in a semi-submarine. It’s a fantastic way to discover the underwater wonders of the world’s most famous reef! Learn more about the Green Island Day Trip.
Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls Tour from Cairns
Experience the natural wonders of Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands to visit different parts of the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest on this outdoorsy day trip from Cairns. With a guide, you’ll take easy walks to three waterfalls—Josephine Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls and Dinner Falls—and take a refreshing swim in Lake Eacham. See the Cathedral Fig Tree, take in views of the volcanic crater in Mt Hypipamee National Park, and enjoy lots of time for swimming and photo ops. Morning and afternoon snacks are picnic lunch provided. Learn more about the Atherton Tablelands Waterfall Tour.
Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns by Luxury Catamaran
Go snorkeling or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day cruise from Cairns. Relax on board your 80-foot (25-meter) luxury catamaran as your captain sails to two exclusive locations on the Great Barrier Reef. Choose to snorkel or dive, with full instruction provided by guides, and see an array of colorful fish, sea turtles, and corals. Your tour includes morning and afternoon tea, and a buffet lunch, with additional beverages available for purchase. Learn more about the Passions of Paradise Cruise.
Best Cairns Restaurants
Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse $11 – 30
For the best steak in town, head to Waterbar & Grill. Located on Cairns Marlin Marina, guests will love both the waterfront views and menu. The grain-fed and aged organic beef is sourced locally from Morganbury Meat Company on the Atherton Tablelands. Many of the Waterbar & Grill’s dishes boast African and Portuguese flavours. Telephone: 07 4031 1199 Web: Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse.
Salt House $11 – 30
With dreamy mountain and ocean views, Salt House is a must-visit restaurant, bar, and pizzeria in Cairns. The restaurant is fitted with an Argentine-style wood-fired grill, which produces perfectly cooked steaks sourced from across Australia’s east coast. The menu also includes many seafood dishes and daily lunch specials. Next is the pizzeria, which serves breakfast in the morning and pizzas all afternoon and evening. Finally, the bar at Salt House is known for its cocktails, relaxing day beds, tapas bar menu, and occasional DJ and live music sets. Telephone: 07 4041 7733 Web: Salt House.
C’est Bon $31 – 60
C’est Bon is the only truly French restaurant in Cairns. They’re a “marriage of French sophistication and down-to-earth local charm,” which fits in perfectly with Cairns’ laid-back tropical setting. C’est Bon has an a la carte menu, as well as seasonal lunch and dinner menus. The seasonal menus include special two- and three-course menu options. Dishes on offer at C’est Bon include snails, baked barramundi, black angus beef eye fillet, and confit duck leg. Telephone: 4051 4488 Web: C’est Bon.
Apex Milk Bar Under $10
“The greatest burgers, fish and chips, hotdogs, and milkshakes ever.” This is what Apex Milk Bar claims to serve daily to Cairns locals and visitors. Opened since 1960, the casual eatery is proud to use predominantly local produce in their indulgent menu. There are 12 burgers on the menu, which include beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetarian options. Don’t miss trying the best burgers in Cairns (and the world) at Apex Milk Bar. Telephone: 07 4051 1749 Web: Apex Milk Bar.
Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum Under $10
Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum is consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in Cairns, and it’s definitely the best place for ramen. Guests can sit at the bar and watch the chefs cooking up a storm in the kitchen, while they sip on a cup of cold, sweet tea from their bottomless jug. Telephone: 07 4031 2522 Web: Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum.
Best Cairns Bars & Pubs
The Woolshed has been a hot spot for adventurous travelers for nearly 20 years, being voted best backpacker “Night Out” several times. Have a drink and a laugh on any of the many themed nights, compete or judge in wet t-shirt competitions, bikini competitions and dance the night away on the tables. Telephone: 07 4031 6304 Web: The Woolshed.
P J O’Briens
Situated in the heart of the City Mall, P.J.O’Brien’s is where you’ll find tourists and locals alike getting up to all sorts of shenanigans over a pint or two. There are plenty of live party bands on the weekends, Coyote Ugly girls on Wednesdays and happy hours every night. Stop in for a drink and find yourself staying the whole night. Telephone: 07 4031 5333 Web: P J O’Briens.
Cock and Bull
The Cock & Bull is an iconic Cairns pub where you can get a big, hearty meal and a cold beer in the charm and style of a traditional English tavern. Popular with families there’s a traditional pub fare menu and a new Carnivore Grill, for those whole want some of the famous Queensland beef. The pub boasts two bars, a tropical beer garden, pokies, pool tables, big screen TVs, a piano and great value. Telephone: 07 4031 1160 Web: Cock and Bull.
Situated at Marina Point next to the Yacht Club, the Salt House is a unique dining bar that thrives at night with live bands and cocktails galore with wonderful views of the Marina aglow with light. Catch up with your friends or meet new ones out on the deck surrounded by stone ponds, fire features and large Poinciana trees in an oasis of style, glamour and comfort. Telephone: 07 4041 7733 Web: Salt House.
The Reef Hotel Casino
You can’t miss the Casino in Cairns; it’s a large, glass domed building with coloured lights that gradually change throughout the night. There are 4 different bars inside among the excitement of the pokies and gaming tables. Each bar has an impressive selection of international and local beers, wines and spirits, as well as hand crafted cocktails. Telephone: 07 4030 8888 Web: The Reef Hotel Casino.
Best Cairns Hotels
Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
This unique 5 Star Hotel in Cairns boasts a spa bath in each of their Luxury Hotel Rooms and a private garden balcony overlooking Cairns city or the iconic Trinity Inlet water views. This complex is home to one of Australia’s finest boutique casinos, a multitude of dining experiences and bars, cairns conference venues, banqueting facilities, free live entertainment in BAR36 Live Lounge, the Casino Sports Arena and the luxurious five star Pullman Reef Hotel Casino.
Escape to your stylishly furnished, self-contained apartment that fulfills all of your Cairns holiday accommodation needs. Nothing beats the waterfront view from your self-contained Cairns Aquarius holiday apartment’s spacious, private balcony. Dine alfresco overlooking the Cairns Esplanade or simply relax in your Cairns holiday accommodation and watch the boats bob calmly in the sea. Enjoy the open-plan design of your fully equipped, self-contained Cairns holiday apartment.
Waters Edge Cairns Apartments
5 star luxury & flexibility when staying in your very own apartment at Waters Edge Cairns Luxury Apartments. Whether your idea of a perfect holiday is to laze around in a resort soaking up the sunshine, partaking in some leisurely shopping and experiencing the multicultural cuisine available from the many restaurants, or your preference is a more action-packed holiday, including snorkeling, scuba diving, white water rafting or bungee jumping, our flexible Cairns accommodation can cater to any needs!
Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns
Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina, Cairns, offers 255 spacious and inviting guestrooms and suites. All rooms have private balconies along with memorable views of the city, the hotel’s tropical gardens, Trinity Bay or Marlin Marina. The rooms are decorated with local artworks that express the natural beauty of the tropical north.
Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort
This 5-star property is set a short distance from attractions such as The Center of Contemporary Arts, The Cairns Civic Theater, and Cairns Base Hospital. Riley features over 300 stylish rooms and suites, most with spacious balconies. Each room features its own Apple iPad control center, a 55-inch Smart TV, Staycast by Google for video streaming, access to hundreds of complimentary movies and box sets, blackout blinds, a rain forest shower head and Nespresso machine. Enjoy the lagoon swimming pool with a private man-made beach, Eléme Day Spa fitness center, English/Irish breakfast, or dining at Paper Crane restaurant and bar.