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.
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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).
Where to stay?
- Cairns has variety of options catering for backpackers to the luxury travelers, ranging from AUD 25 to AUD 850.
- I would love to stay at Shangri-La Hotel or Riley. These are some of the luxurious 5 star stays in Cairns.
- The budgeted option is to stay at Youth Hostels Association (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. Other times Cairns get too hot.
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 for exploring Cairns 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 hiring the car from them are a bit expensive when compared to other car providers but 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 in Cairns
There are plenty of things to do in Cairns and it does have a lot to offer. As I said earlier, Cairns is best enjoyed outdoors even though it does have a butterfly park and an aquarium.
- Snorkeling and Scuba Diving – Top of my list is definitely scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef. The corals and the variety of fishes are amazing to look at in their natural habitat. I had booked my scuba diving tour with Visit Cairns who in turn booked it with CDC Dive centre. The dive tour cost me AUD 169. It was a nice dive considering I was a beginner back then. 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.
- Daintree Rain Forest – The Daintree Rain Forest is the largest tropical rain forest in Australia and is around 1200 square kilometres. Visiting one of the oldest rain forests in the World is an amazing experience and I would definitely recommend visiting this magical place. There are a few things to do at Daintree Rain forest.
- Visiting the Mossman Gorge and definitely doing the Ngadiku Dreamtime Gorge Walk. It is a great way to learn about the Indigenous culture and people.
- The best way to get to Daintree Rain Forest from Cairns is to drive.
- Port Douglas – Port Douglas is about 1-hour drive from Cairns and for scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef, I would definitely consider Port Douglas rather than Cairns.
- There are shuttles that run between Cairns and Port Douglas.
- 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. This is for people who love to stay out of water and still want to see the spectacular reefs.
- Kuranda – Kuranada is a mountain village that is around 27 kilometres from Cairns. It is an awesome cold place that makes a perfect get away from the hot Cairns.
- Taking a Skyrail at Kuranda is a must-do. The Skyrail cable way provides great views of the rain forest and the ocean.
- The return ticket cost around AUD 85 per adult.
- One can also take a train to Kuranda.
- Green or Fitzroy Island – There are daily day trips that run to both Green and Fitzroy Islands. Spending a day at these islands are an awesome way to get a taste of some more of Great Barrier Reef. I have been to both these islands but I loved visiting Fitzroy Island.
- One can also spend at the resort in Green Island where there are massages and nice restaurants to eat in.
- There is also parasailing that one can do at Green Island.
- Fitzroy Island also has a resort which are open to public and there are some hikes on the island that one can do.
- Palm Cove Beach – The Palm Cove Beach is a beautiful beach with pretty palm trees and cafes. It is a popular spot for fishing.
Also read my post that provides complete details for traveling to Tropical North.
Safety for solo female travelers
Cairns is absolutely safe for solo female travelers. I have traveled to the place solo multiple times and I have never had any issues what-so-ever. However, like any other city be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at nights.
Cairns is definitely a very popular destination among the tourists and backpackers. But given a choice, I would head straight to Port Douglas. Port Douglas is much better than Cairns and has better experiences. Both these places are warm and nice and are great places to have relaxed vacation.