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Cairns

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, colourful coral and year-round warm water through a snorkel or a glass-bottomed boat.

The Daintree Rainforest covers about 2,600 square kilometres (1,000 square miles) 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 7.5-kilometre (4.6-mile) 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.


Guide to Exploring Cairns


Top Hotel Deals

See all 248 Hotels in Cairns
Koala Beach Resort

Koala Beach Resort

137 To 139 Lake Street, Cairns
2.1
of 5, from 10 reviews
2.0 out of 5.0

Located in Cairns Central Business District, this hotel is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) from The Cultural Place and within 3 mi (5 km) of Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens and Mount Whitfield Conservation Park. Cairns Night Markets and Jute Theatre are also within 10 minutes.

P8,149
Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina

Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina

Pierpoint Road, Cairns
4.2
of 5, from 511 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

With its location directly on Marlin Marina, above Pier Shopping Complex, and next to the Esplanade, this hotel is within 1 km of Cairns's city center, convention venue, and watercraft tour terminals.

P6,770
Hilton Cairns

Hilton Cairns

34 Esplanade, Cairns
4.1
of 5, from 504 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Overlooking Trinity Inlet in the heart of Cairns, this hotel is a few minutes' walk to city center shopping. Cairns Airport is 8 km (5 mi) away.

P5,629
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns

121-123 The Esplanade & Florence St, Cairns
4.1
of 5, from 568 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Cairns Central Business District, this luxury hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Cairns Esplanade and within 3 mi (5 km) of Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens and Mount Whitfield Conservation Park. Center of Contemporary Arts and Jute Theatre are also within 5 minutes.

P5,554
Cairns Plaza Hotel

Cairns Plaza Hotel

145 The Esplanade, Cairns
4.1
of 5, from 168 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Cairns, this hotel is 0 mi (0.1 km) from Muddy's Playground and within 3 mi (5 km) of Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens and Mount Whitfield Conservation Park. St Monica's Cathedral and Cairns Esplanade are also within 10 minutes.

P6,644
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

122 Lake St, Cairns
3.8
of 5, from 413 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Cairns hotel is located near the beach, steps from Center of Contemporary Arts, Jute Theatre, and Kick Contemporary Arts. Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens and Mount Whitfield Conservation Park are also within 3 mi (5 km).

P5,870
Rydges Plaza Cairns

Rydges Plaza Cairns

Corner Grafton And Spence Streets, Cairns
3.1
of 5, from 102 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Cairns Central Business District, this hotel is 0.3 mi (0.4 km) from The Cultural Place and 2.6 mi (4.2 km) from Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens. Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome and Cairns Harbour Cruises are also within 10 minutes.

P7,069
Mantra Esplanade

Mantra Esplanade

53-57 The Esplanade, Cairns
4.1
of 5, from 363 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Cairns Central Business District, this hotel is 0.1 mi (0.2 km) from Cairns Regional Gallery and 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens. Esplanade Lagoon and Cairns Harbour Cruises are also within 5 minutes.

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