Best holiday rental offers in Cairns
Welcome to Cairns
The thriving Queensland city of Cairns is a mecca for tourists in Australia. With the Great Barrier Reef on its doorstep, the town is popularly used as a base to explore one of Australia’s most visited natural attractions. Cairns is the most northerly port with access to the reef and is said to be the safest and most pure way to experience it.
The diving industry has transformed Cairns from a small rural town to a bustling and prosperous spot, ideal for a holiday
- It’s the fourth most popular tourist destination in Australia after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
- About two million people visit the Reef annually.
Where to Stay
The prime location to stay in Cairns is on the Esplanade, by the water’s edge and the lagoon. Most apartments are in high-rise buildings with good security and amenities. If you are going to set aside time in Cairns to party and meet people, find an apartment in the centre of town. There are several clubs nearby and it’s an easy walk to the Esplanade and port. The waterfront at Cairns is actually a man-made lagoon, so if you’re looking for beach frontage, head to Palm Cove. It’s about 25 km north of Cairns, but it’s easily accessible by road and has a stunning beach. It’s not too sleepy either - there are plenty of good restaurants and spots for a cocktail. The Hinterland is another beautiful option - for a relaxing few nights, find a guesthouse or villa in the rolling hills or lush forests.
Things to Do
Diving and snorkelling the reef are two of the most popular activities in Cairns. There are hundreds of operators, offering varying levels of service and amenities. Most people find a smaller operator is best, as they can get to parts of the reef bigger boats can’t and usually offer a more personalised tour. To see the hinterland and the reef from above, book a hot air balloon flight, or if you’re daring, try skydiving or hang-gliding. If you have time, take a day to visit the Daintree Rainforest. It’s 90 minutes north of Cairns by road but is well worth it - there is nowhere else like the Daintree. Dense, ancient rainforests reach all the way to white sandy beaches and colourful coral reefs, and much of it has been barely touched by humans. If you’re lucky, you might see wild cassowaries, goannas and flying foxes.
Eating and Drinking
The Esplanade area is jammed with cafes, bars and restaurants. There are dozens of pub-style places serving up hearty Aussie steaks and burgers alongside locals beers. Healthier options can also be found at juice bars, organic cafes and higher end eateries. This is a tourist town, and it’s very well prepared to serve cuisine from all over the world. It’s easy to find great Japanese, Chinese and Mediterranean style food especially. A barbecue with friends by the shore is another great way to spend an evening - the local council has made it easy by providing plenty of free barbecues and there are good supermarkets nearby for picking up supplies. As Cairns is the major port of North Queensland, it also sees some of the freshest seafood in the Pacific. The best things to try are Moreton Bay Bugs, Prawns and the famous North Queensland Mud Crabs.
Cairns is reachable by plane, train or road. The Cairns International Airport is conveniently located close to the main town and is easily accessible by shuttle bus or taxi. The train station is also nice and central - it’s in the middle of town near the esplanade and runs several services to Brisbane every week. Cairns itself is fairly small so it’s easy to walk around, although the tropical climate can make it a challenge to be in the sun for too long. There are also bus services if your accommodation is just outside town. As with many parts of Australia, it’s useful to have a car. There are several car rental services and it makes it much easier to explore the countryside and coastline independently. If driving isn’t an option, there are plenty of tour operators who can get you to the major attractions and parks.
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