Discover the perfect time to embark on your Cairns adventure! Explore the stunning beauty of this tropical paradise at its prime. In this guide, you will find the information on the best time to travel to Cairns. This guide will ensure you make the most of your tropical getaway. From vibrant coral reefs to lush rainforests, find out when Cairns shines brightest and plan your journey for an unforgettable experience.
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Situated on the east coast of Australia, Cairns is the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). It is a laid back city in the state of Queensland and is best enjoyed outdoors. Cairns is one of the must-visit places in Australia and it must be on your Australian bucket list.
Experiencing a tropical climate, the city is loved and adored by the locals and tourists. The city plays a huge role in Australia’s tourism economy and is one of the most popular destinations for all tourists.
How to Get to Cairns?
- There are frequent flights between Cairns and Sydney. The flight duration between the two airports is around 3 hours. The providers are Jetstar,
Tigerair, Virgin Australia, and Qantas.
and Tigerairprovide the budgeted option for flights.
- Cairns international airport is about 7 kilometres from Cairns Central Business District (CBD).
Cairns is very well connected by highways, making it easily accessible from major cities and towns in Australia. You will need to get onto Bruce Highway to reach Cairns.
By Public Transport
You have trains, operated by Spirit of Queensland, from Brisbane to Cairns. The trains run only on certain days and takes around 25 hours as the distance between Brisbane and Cairns is about 1680 kilometres.
Where to Stay in Cairns?
- Cairns has variety of options catering for backpackers to the luxury travelers, ranging from AUD 25 to AUD 850.
- If you love luxurious accommodations, then you can consider staying at these 5-star hotels – Shangri-La Hotel, Hilton Cairns, Pullman Reef Casino Hotel, Crystalbrook Riley.
- But if you are a backpacker and budgeted traveler, then consider staying at Cairns Central Youth Hostels Association (YHA), which cost about AUD 25 per person in a dorm.
Best Time to Travel to Cairns
With its tropical allure and natural wonders, Cairns attracts travelers and tourists all year around but choosing the best time to travel enhances your experience.
The best time to travel to Cairns is during autumn (March to May) and winter (June to August) seasons as the weather is pleasant and not humid.
November to May is the wet season where rainfall is more prevalent. During this time the landscapes burst with life as the Daintree Rainforest thrives in the tropical showers. Note that this time also has a rise in humidity level.
June to October offers as a dry season and is ideal for diving and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). It is the ideal time when outdoor activities flourish, and the skies boast clear, sunny days, providing the perfect backdrop for memorable adventures.
How Many Days are Required for Cairns?
The ideal duration for a visit to Cairns can vary based on your personal preferences and interests. The activities you plan to engage in and how much of the surrounding attractions you want to explore dictates the number of days you need for Cairns.
More the number of days, the better it is. However, if you do not have too much of time, then try to spend at least 3 to 4 days to explore the city. Even with 3 to 4 days, you just get the glimpse of this beautiful city.
Local transportation in Cairns
Cairns have local public buses operated by TransLink and these are the best way to travel around if you are on a budget. Apart from the local buses, you can also take taxis, including Uber, that are easily available.
If you are into driving and road trips, you can rent out self-driven cars in Australia, including Cairns. These cars are available at airports and the city centres. All you need is a valid international drivers licence (in English) and a credit card.
While renting out a car in Australia, ensure to take full insurance coverage with zero excess, to avoid paying any damage amount in case something happens to the car.
Things To Do in Cairns
Cairns boasts plenty of activities and things to do, catering to diverse preferences. While the city’s outdoor attractions are particularly captivating, there are also noteworthy indoor activities to explore. As I highlighted earlier, Cairns truly comes alive when experienced outdoors, yet there are enticing indoor destinations that offer unique and enjoyable experiences.
Cairns Performing Arts Centre
With more than 900 seats, the Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC) is a leading performance arts theatre. The arts centre serves as a hub for various performing arts and cultural events, providing a platform for theatrical performances, concerts, dance shows, and more.
The Daintree rainforest is the largest tropical rain forest in Australia and is around 1200 square kilometres. Being one of the oldest rain forests in the world, the Daintree rainforest is an amazing place and I highly visiting this magical place. You can do many things at Daintree Rain forest, including visiting the Mossman Gorge and definitely taking the Ngadiku Dreamtime Gorge Walk. The walk is a great opportunity to learn about the indigenous culture and people.
Situated along the shores of Trinity Inlet, the Cairns Esplanade is a vibrant and iconic waterfront area in Cairns. The esplanade is home to a large saltwater swimming lagoon, well-maintained paths catering to both walkers and cyclists, and a range of cafes and restaurants.
Scuba Diving in Great Barrier Reef
Stretching over 2300 kilometres, Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the largest coral reef ecosystem in the world. Designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1981, the GBR is home to vast array of coral species, providing habitat for countless marine organisms, including fish, mollusks, starfish, turtles, sharks, and rays.
[Update as on July 2022 – CDC Dive Centre is no longer functioning. For updates on dive centre in Cairns, read my post on scuba diving in GBR]
I have also dived with Quicksilver Group and they were great as well. The tour and the trip was very well organised and I had an awesome time.
But if you have time, I recommend scuba diving in Port Douglas rather than Cairns as it is less crowded and the water is pristine. Even though diving in Port Douglas is more expensive than diving in Cairns, the experience is more enjoyable at Port Douglas due to less crowd.
If you are not into scuba diving but enjoy snorkeling, then even snorkeling at Cairns is a great experience as the water is very clear and you can see the fishes and corals very clearly.
Offering visitors a chance to witness the incredible marine life and vibrant coral formations without getting wet, these boat tours range from day trips to extended liveaboard experiences.
You can indulge in a range of activities on these tours, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and underwater observatory visits. Some tours also include additional experiences like helicopter rides or semi-submersible submarine adventures.
Providing a non-intrusive way to observe the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, Glass-bottom boats have sections with transparent flooring, allowing passengers to view the marine life beneath the surface. They offer a comfortable and dry option for those who may not want to get into the water but still wish to witness the stunning coral and fish.
Located about 25 kilometers from Cairns, Palm Cove is a popular destination for those seeking a relaxed tropical getaway. Boasting of a long and pristine beach lined with swaying palm trees, providing a picturesque setting for sunbathing, beach strolls, and water activities, Palm Cove offers a blend of natural beauty, luxury, and a laid-back atmosphere to its visitors.
One Day Trips from Cairns
Port Douglas, part of the Tropical North, is about 1-hour (70 kilometres) drive from Cairns. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural surroundings, Port Douglas is a popular resort town located in Far North Queensland. There are shuttles that operate between Cairns and Port Douglas.
Kuranda is a mountain village that is around 27 kilometres from Cairns. Known for its lush surroundings, vibrant arts scene, and unique attractions, Kuranda is a popular destination for both locals and tourists.
- The Kuranda Scenic Railway offers a picturesque train journey from Cairns, passing through dense rainforest and offering stunning views of waterfalls.
- The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway provides another scenic option, allowing visitors to glide above the treetops in gondolas. The return ticket cost around AUD 85 per adult.
- Birdworld Kuranda is a tropical rainforest aviary where visitors can interact with a variety of bird species, including colorful parrots and cockatoos.
Part of the Great Barrier Reef, Green Island is situated approximately 27 kilometers from Cairns. Various operators offering day trips from Cairns as the island is accessible only by boat and the boat ride is just about 45 minutes.
Apart from snorkeling, scuba diving, helicopter rides, you can see the Marineland Melanesia, home to “Cassius,” the Guinness World Record-holding largest captive crocodile.
Situated about 29 kilometers from Cairns, Fitzroy Island is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and its surroundings boast clear blue waters, coral reefs, and lush rainforest. Providing accommodation options for those looking to extend their stay with a range of facilities, including restaurants, bars, and a pool, Fitzroy Island is home to Fitzroy Island Resort.
You can indulge in many things on Fitzroy Island such as hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding.
The island also has Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, where injured or sick turtles are cared for and rehabilitated before being released back into the wild.
Safety for Solo Female Travelers
Cairns proves to be a secure haven for solo female travelers, drawing from my personal experiences of multiple solo visits without encountering any issues. The city radiates a welcoming atmosphere, and its popularity as a tourist destination contributes to a generally safe environment.
Nevertheless, exercising caution is essential, as with any urban area. Familiarity with your surroundings becomes paramount, particularly during nighttime outings. While the city’s vibrant and lively ambiance is part of its charm, ensuring personal safety by staying in well-lit and busy areas is a prudent practice. Trusting one’s instincts is fundamental, and if ever feeling uneasy, it’s advisable to err on the side of caution.
Whether exploring the waterfront, engaging in water activities, or experiencing the city’s nightlife, solo female travelers can enhance their safety by being mindful of local customs, choosing reputable accommodations, and staying connected. A sense of adventure, coupled with sensible precautions, ensures a rewarding and secure solo journey in Cairns.
Embark on your Cairns adventure with the confidence of choosing the best time to visit this tropical paradise. Whether you opt for the dry season’s clarity and outdoor vibrancy, or the wet season’s lush landscapes and unique underwater spectacles, each season unveils a distinct facet of Cairns’ allure.
Your journey to Cairns, carefully timed and thoughtfully planned, ensures that every moment is a celebration of the natural wonders and unique charm that make this corner of the world truly extraordinary. Whether seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Cairns welcomes you with open arms, promising an unforgettable escape in every season.
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