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Cairns Tourism And Travel Guide
21.9° C / 71.3° F
May to October
2 to 4 Days
Cairns International Airport (7 kms)
The city of Cairns is a tourist delight. Beautiful parks and galleries, beaches and rainforests, adventure experiences and great shopping opportunities, Cairns has it all. This city is renowned, more than anything, as the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. May to October make for a great time to visit Cairns, as the weather is perfectly balanced, while there are so many things to do here at this time. Tourism in Cairns will not be complete without a scenic ride on the Kuranda Railway and spotting turtle hatchlings on the nearby Green Island and Port Douglas. Here’s your travel guide to Cairns, detailing how you can reach this beautiful city and make the most of your trip.
How to Reach Cairns
The gateway to the Barrier Reef is easily accessible by air and road. However, a connection by rail or sea is more cumbersome and infrequent.
Your point of entry into Cairns would be the Cairns International Airport. Some major international carriers and most of the domestic carriers have regular flights to Cairns. Situated approximately 7 km from the city centre, pre-booked shuttles, taxis or buses can be taken from here.
Not particularly well connected by rail because of its location, Cairns has railway connection with Brisbane and Kuranda. The train from Brisbane plies twice a week, while the Kuranda Scenic Rail plies daily; however, this is more of a rainforest tour train journey.
The coastal city of Cairns can be reached from Brisbane in about 22 hours via the Bruce Highway. It is advised to make this a two-night journey with overnight stops in small towns on the way, thereby exploring these areas as well. Other major cities are farther away and we suggest flying in.
Of the many cruises that pass through Cairns, you can opt to terminate your journey on one of them on this coastal city. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to arrive by yacht.
Weather and Best Time to Visit Cairns
Cairns is characterised by a tropical rainforest type of climate, having a dry season and a wet season. Being a coastal city, it has a pleasant weather all year round. The days are warm and the evenings become pleasant.
Wet Season (November to April):
November through April marks the wet season in Cairns and is characterised by warm days. This season also sees the greens and blooms take over the entire city, multiplying its beauty manifold. The rivers gush in full force and the rainforests teem with new life. Temperatures reach the 30°C mark, and the Great Barrier Reef is a sublime beauty at this time, which also happens to be the coral spawning season.
Dry Season (May to October):
The weather is much more pleasant in the dry season with temperatures ranging from 17°C to 26°C. The skies are clear and humidity is minimum. This happens to be the ideal time for water sports and other outdoor activities. Hence we recommend you plan your trip during these months.
An August Paradise:
Cairns is best when visited in the month of August. This happens to be the time of peak winter with pleasant weather, clear skies and cool nights. With almost no rainfall, your trip will never come to a standstill because of rains. Being the shoulder season, the month of August will also have some unbelievable deals on offer.
While the sea is beautiful all year round, you must be careful in the waters around the breeding season of jellyfish, which lasts from November to May. These beautiful looking creatures can have a deadly sting. Wearing protective stinger suits are advised if you're here during this period. Alternatively, swim in stinger enclosers and swimming holes that abound in this region.
Things to Do in Cairns
From beaches to adventure sports, from markets to eateries, you name it, Cairns has it. With so much on offer, we suggest you plan your trip on the basis of the activities you want to indulge in.
Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef:
Your trip to the Great Barrier Reef’s Gateway will definitely be incomplete without taking a dive in the ocean and getting up close with the inexplicable beauty of the marine world. Diving Gear is available on rent. You can take a dive even if you do not know how to swim. Dives are done in small groups along with a trained professional diver.
Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail:
Exploring the rainforests has never been as much fun as it is on your journey aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Sky Rail. The onward journey is generally done by rail, where you also get to learn the history of the world heritage rainforests and the return journey is by the sky rail which gives you an aerial view of the same forest area.
Visit Aboriginal Cairns:
Home to a number of Aboriginal tribes, your trip to Cairns will not be complete until you do not learn of its cultural heritage. A number of Aboriginal tours are available which will tell you about the people and their culture and also show you their art and handicraft work.
The Northern Beaches:
Beaches are a must visit on your trips to coastal cities. There are some wonderful beaches to explore the northern outskirts of Cairns. You could take a walk along the shore or just laze on the sand. The popular beaches include Clifton Beach and Palm Cove.
Places to Eat in Cairns
Cairns has a multicultural approach to its food. You can find almost all the well-loved cuisines and even some that are yet unexplored in this vibrant city. For local food, we suggest the Jaffle Head which is also light on the pocket. Splurge at C’est Bon Restaurant Francais which arguably serves the best French cuisine in the entire city. For trying out unique dishes, we suggest Fusion Art, Bar & Tapas. It has exceptional food with many vegan options as well.
Shopping in Cairns
For shopping, Cairns has a variety of options. There is the DFO store where you get merchandise directly at factory rates. For branded shopping, there is Cairns Central. The Pier in Cairns allows you to club your shopping and dining experience with a number of wonderful restaurants located along the pier. The Cairns night market is also a must visit with over a hundred stalls to entice you.