Cairns is located 1713km north of Brisbane
and is the tourism capital of Far North Queensland. This tropical mecca is incredibly scenic and has everything from magnificent beaches to lush rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef all within close vicinity.
The Esplanade and City centre
are always full of action. Like any big city there are shops, eateries and pubs galore. The Esplanade itself has a fabulous walkway along the foreshore with impressive children’s playgrounds, water park, skate park and holiday entertainment.
A popular attraction on the Esplanade is the free swimming lagoon
. Located at the end of Shields Street, the patrolled lagoon is a fantastic place to enjoy the warm tropical weather, swim, picnic and barbeque on the immaculate lawns amongst the palm trees. A café/kiosk and amenities with showers are provided here for your convenience.
There are a good selection of markets scheduled throughout each week. City Esplanade Markets by the Lagoon are held every Saturday from 8am-5pm, selling handmade art and craft products. Rusty’s Markets on Grafton St operate each Friday 5am-6pm, Saturday 6am-3pm and Sunday 6am-2pm, selling a huge variety of fresh produce and serving food and beverages. Cairns Night Markets on the Esplanade are open daily 4.30pm-11pm featuring a diverse food court and selling anything and everything you can imagine.
Cairns appeal certainly reaches the Botanic Gardens. These magnificent gardens hold an array of beautiful plants, orchid house, fresh and salt water lakes, rainforest boardwalk and many easy walking paths throughout the display. The Botanic Gardens are located on Collins Ave and are open daily from 7.30am-5.30pm with a licensed café and free entry.
The local beaches are simply irresistible. Stretching about 26km north of the city is a tropical coastline of smooth sands and towering coconut palms. Follow the Captain Cook Highway and explore the striking shores.
Yorkeys Knob is a safe swimming beach with a protective netting enclosure and lifeguard station. This lovely beach offers a scenic mountain backdrop and has excellent barbeque and picnic facilities on the foreshore. Fishing from the rock groyne is also popular and dogs are permitted in designated areas. Close by is the local boat club and marina with bar, restaurant and public boat ramp.
Trinity Beach is just gorgeous and lies across the road from a café/restaurant strip. The esplanade has plenty of shade, picnic facilities and children’s playground. Dogs are permitted in the specified exercise area.
Palm Cove is a stunning palm-fringed beach in a classy area. The facilities on the foreshore are fantastic, there are many cafes and restaurants, lifeguards patrol here, fishing is popular from the jetty and dogs are prohibited.
Buchans Point Beach is north of Palm Cove and part of the scenic coastal drive towards Port Douglas. This less popular beach practically guarantees some peace and quiet and personal space and dogs are permitted.
Further north of Buchans Point is Rex Lookout, presenting marvellous views of Trinity Bay and excellent photo opportunities. Certified Hang Gliding and Para Gliding Pilots also offer flights from this lookout however prior arrangement must be made. There is plenty of parking for tourists travelling either way on the highway.
Exploring the Great Barrier Reef is definitely one of the highlights here. There are an abundance of local tour companies offering all sorts of snorkelling, scuba diving and glass bottom boat tours to help you enjoy this magnificent experience. The diversity and spectacular colours of the sea creatures and corals beneath the surface in this marine wilderness is utterly amazing.
Cairns also offers the ultimate wildlife experience with a number of parks including Cairns Wildlife Dome, Cairns Tropical Zoo, Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. A 25km drive into the highlands to Kuranda will find the Kuranda Koala Gardens, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Bird World, Rainforestation Nature Park and Spider and Venom World.
The Cairns Highlands or Atherton Tablelands are also an integral part of the Cairns experience. There is much to see and do in the area taking the Kennedy Highway via Kuranda, Mareeba, Atherton and Ravenshoe. The region has waterfalls galore and coffee plantations and we suggest allowing more than a day to explore the entire area.
Lake Placid is a quiet, tranquil escape only 14km north of the city at the base of Barron National Park. This lovely lake is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, picnicking and bushwalking. A caravan park is located here and makes a good base from which to explore the national park and surrounding area.
Another popular waterhole is Crystal Cascades. A clear sparkling plunge pool sits beneath a series of rapids. A pleasant walk takes you to the top of the falls through the surrounding rainforest. Swimming is permitted in the lower plunge pool and there is a lovely picnic and barbeque area. The cascades are located at the end of the Redlynch Intake Road.
Self drive travellers seeking caravan park accommodation will find there are plenty around, however many do not allow pets. Pet owners please note pet friendly parks include Cool Waters Holiday Park, Barrier Reef Tourist Park and Lake Placid Tourist Park.
A good free camp is also located 25km south of the city at the Gordonvale Rest Area by the Mulgrave River. This spacious flat area is suitable for all set ups and has mountain views, toilets and water and dogs are permitted. This camp is perfect for travelling pet owners who can’t get into a caravan park during busy periods.
Cairns is a spectacular holiday destination with plenty of attractions within easy reach. The warm climate, varying scenery and exciting atmosphere complement each other perfectly.
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Destinations in Queensland
Daintree National Park
Tin Can Bay
Undara Volcanic National Park
Return from Cairns to Queensland