Cairns holds a special place in my heart and in a way is home away from home. It’s beauty and serenity will have you wanting to stay there forever. Think tropical beaches, lush rainforest, palm trees and out door BBQ’s.
Where is it?
Cairns is located in Far North Queensland (FNQ) on the east coast.
What’s the weather like?
Cairns is generally warm all year round. They have two seasons, wet and dry. Dry season is between May – November and wet season between December – April. As far as the best time to go I’d say June – July. It’s warm, sunny, little chance of rain. Months to avoid are December – January it’s tropically wet and from my experience extremely humid and uncomfortable.
How long should I go for?
I would say you could explore what Cairns has to offer in a week if you are short for time BUT if you can allow a few extra days it will be really worth it. If you have a working holiday Visa then I would stay for a couple of months. There are plenty of jobs available. I went round the town one day with my CV and within an hour had the pick of at least 8 jobs.
Where should I stay?
Luckily, you are spoilt for choice IF you are comfortable with staying in hostels. Having said that there are plenty of hotels as well. Cairns caters to every type of traveller. I have stayed in a lot of the hostels so the below are my recommendations;
Globetrotters International – For the chilled backpacker
Approx 30 AUD (14EUR) per night. Great place to meet new people. Relaxed atmosphere and opportunity to work for accommodation i.e help with cleaning for 2 hours in the day. Nice pool and relaxation area. 5 Min walk to the City centre.
Gilligans Backpackers Hostel – For the social backpacker
Approx 40 AUD (18EUR) per night. If you are a bit more into the party scene this place is for you. It’s located right in the centre and has an in house nightclub with epic DJ’s even a pizza vendor just outside. It has a big pool and a chilled vibe in the day. Perfect for relaxing after one too many the night before.
Pullman Reef Hotel & Casino – For the flashpacker
Approx 200 AUD (92EUR) per night. Ok, so a little bit more than most backpackers are willing to spend, but if you are looking for a little bit of luxury then this is the place. Marble floors, soft cosy décor and the comfiest beds possibly ever. The roof top pool is a definite highlight and there is a nice restaurant called Tamarind which has a romantic ambiance. Very centrally located.
Where’s good to eat?
Cairns has an abundance of diverse restaurants and cafes all the way along the esplanade. They are all lined up quite nicely which makes it easy to peruse your options. If you are just wanting to grab something from the shops and cook at home there are a few supermarkets. There’s Woolworths which is right in the middle of town – (mid priced) and there’s Coles which is in Cairns Mall (Cairns Central) – 5 minute walk from centre – (low prices). The night market is also a great place to choose a delicious fresh crepe or Asian cuisine. See below for my top 3 Favourite restaurants;
Salt House – Modern Cuisine
Location is what makes this place epic. I liked to come here, order a cocktail and some tapas then perch myself on a comfy couch over looking the ocean. The food is delicious and tasty. 100% worth a visit.
Mr Soy Boy – Asian Cuisine
Made with love. You will just keep coming back for more. A whole load of options and each dish more amazing than the last.
P.J O’Briens – Pub grub
Cheap and cheerful. Hearty portions and you get what you order. This pub is very central and most hostels give out vouchers for 5AUD Dinner and a drink. Good way of socialising as a lot of backpackers do this.
What activities are must do’s?
Visit the Great Barrier Reef – whilst you can. It’s getting serious guys – global warming is taking it’s toll on this wonderful landmark! They reckon the reef will die out in the next 20 years which makes me incredibly sad. This was something I had to tick off my list as soon as I arrived in Cairns. I have to admit I was underwhelmed the first time I went out. I went with a large boat that takes between 100 – 300 people. Yuck. It was like a scene from Titanic with people splashing around all over the place, no fish to be seen, dead coral, massive platoon with a canteen inside. Awful. It didn’t put me off and I went with a smaller boat and the second I jumped in, put on my mask and threw my face into the water I could feel happy tears welling. I have never seen anything so beautiful. Stunning multicoloured corals, plants thriving and a million different fish to observe. This is a must. If you can’t or don’t want to dive then either try to get a snorkel in or you can join a glass bottom boat tour.
TIP: Choose a company that take fewer guests, might cost a tiny bit more but 100% worth it.
Take a swim in the Esplanade Pool – Large pool with dome fountains. Perfect on a hot day to cool off. Stunning view of the ocean and seconds walk from the shops. Instagramer’s dream.
Drive to the Daintree – Dense rainforest full of beautiful flora. It’s a must. There are plenty of tours that will take you here but if you have the means to drive then it’s better to go by yourself so you can take your time to explore. You might even see turtles! There’s some fantastic ice cream parlours there too. You’ll certainly come across a few secret swimming holes as well.
TIP: Visit the Crystal Cascades on the same day to cool off. A beautiful waterfall with some exciting cliff jumps if you are feeling adventurous.
Take a day trip to Fitzroy Island – If you’ve always dreamed of escaping to a paradise island this would be your chance. Imagine the clearest water you have ever seen, the most beautiful and healthy palm trees and lush greenery all around. Oh, how could I forget the SEA TRAMPOLINE!!! Yes! That’s right, and oh boy – it’s fun. You can get a boat from cairns and be there in and hour. You can return the same day or stay a night or two. There’s only one hotel on the island and it’s stunning. When I was there I caught a fish and they cooked it up for me – winning!
TIP: Take the time to walk to the very top of the small mountain for sunset. There’s also a secret beach with is even more secluded, amazing for snorkelling.
Kuranda Skyrail and Train – a beautiful and unforgettable day out. You’ll ride across the treetops of the jungle and cruise into Kuranda Village. You’ll be greeted with a huge market selling everything from handmade boomerangs to kangaroo balls which double as a bottle opener. Hmm, moving on, one thing to try is the Mango wine they sell – truly scrumptious. Also any ice cream shop – they are kinda famous for it. You can take the gondola back down again or ride the rail which takes you on a scenic tour back to Cairns. Little scary at points where you feel like you are on the edge of a cliff – but i’s perfectly safe!
TIP: Bring a water bottle, drinks are expensive up there.
Aren’t there a lot of deadly animals?
I always have a chuckle when people say this. Well, yes there are. BUT you are extremely unlikely to encounter any unless you actively go looking for them or are in an environment where they are being kept i.e a zoo! In my years in Australia I saw one wild deadly snake. People have it in mind they WILL die if they come up to Cairns but that is because they have read about people being eaten by crocs. As awful as that is, there are clear signs of places you should NOT swim which is where these tragedies occur. The wildest creature you’ll most likely come across is fruit bat or a kangaroo!!