Cairns is the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). It is a laid back city in Queensland. And is best enjoyed outdoors. It is on the East Coast of Australia. It experiences a tropical climate. 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 there?
- 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.
- Jetstar and Tigerair provide the budgeted option for flights.
- Cairns international airport is about 7 kilometres from Cairns CBD.
Where to stay?
- Cairns has variety of options catering for backpackers to the luxury travellers, ranging from AUD 25 to AUD 850.
- The budgeted option is to stay at YHA Cairns, which costs about AUD 25 per person in a dorm.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Cairns is during autumn (March to May) and winter (June to August) seasons as it is less hot and humid. April to September are the ideal months for a visit to Cairns.
How many days are required?
The minimum number of days required to explore Cairns is definitely three to four days. Anything less than that is very less as the flights itself takes about 3 hours between Sydney and Cairns.
Cairns have local public buses to travel around in the city. TransLink is the provider that runs these buses within the city. However, I have found the best way to travel around is by hiring a car. I generally hire a car with Hertz Australia. Even though they are a bit expensive, their cars are very well maintained and neat.
Note: Ensure to take full insurance coverage to avoid paying any damage amount in case something happens to the car.
Things to do
There are plenty of things to do in Cairns. As I said earlier, Cairns is best enjoyed outdoors.
- Scuba Diving – Top of my list is definitely scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef. I booked my scuba diving tour with Visit Cairns who in turn booked it with CDC Dive centre. The dive tour cost me AUD 169. Read my full scuba diving experience in my post – The Big Blue World, Corals, Fishes and the Sharks. However, if you have time, I recommend scuba diving in Port Douglas rather than Cairns as it is less crowded and the water is pristine.
- Visiting one of the oldest rain forests in the World – The Daintree rainforest. It is the largest tropical rainforest in Australia.
- Visiting Port Douglas. It is the mecca for diving and snorkelling. Port Douglas is about 1-hour drive from Cairns. There are shuttles between Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Taking Reef cruises and glass-bottom boats – It is definitely worth taking the cruises to visit various reefs and enjoying the coloured corals through the glass bottom boats.
- Visiting Kuranda – Taking a Skyrail at Kurana is a must-do. The Skyrail cableway provides great views of the rain forest and the ocean.
- Day trips to either Green Island or Fitzroy Island – Both of these islands are great, but I loved the Fitzroy Island.
Also read my post that provides complete details for traveling to Tropical North.
Cairns is definitely a very popular destination among the tourists and backpackers. But given a choice, I would head to Port Douglas. Port Douglas is much better than Cairns and has better experiences.