Blog Post

Budget-Friendly Cairns: Affordable Adventures

Avatar photo

TNQ Writer

Attention, wanderlust seekers! Are you itching to explore but find your pockets lacking in funds? Don’t despair! We’ve got your back. Prepare yourself for a whirlwind of budget-friendly escapades that’ll satisfy your thirst for adventure without draining your bank account.

Need Wheels? Let's Roll!

When it comes to conquering Cairns in style, there’s no better way than rolling with your own set of wheels. With so many visitors wanting soak in our breathtaking landscape, it’s no wonder you’re showered with a smorgasbord of car and campervan rental options.

Fear not, we’ve your back (and your wheels) covered! Jucy has a fleet of fantastic vehicles, you’ll be cruising the roads like a true tropical aficionado. Whether you fancy a comfy sedan or a rugged camper van to unleash your inner adventurer, Jucy has the wheels to match your wildest dreams. Looking for a wider range of campervans? Apollo has a massive range that will suit your needs and budget, with convenient pick-up spots at the airport and downtown you’ll be cruising as soon as you arrive.

But hey, if renting your own set of wheels isn’t your cup of tea, fret not! Keep reading, because we’ve got some fantastic tour options lined up just for you, complete with hassle-free transfers included

Tip: No wheels? No worries! Beam Scooters have you covered, zipping you around town with effortless style.

Freebies in Cairns

Beat the heat at the Lagoon

Stroll through the Botanic Gardens

Immerse yourself in art

Check out tanks

Stroll along Cairns Esplanade and enjoy stunning views and refreshing ocean breezes. With shady trees, exercise equipment, a skate park, and tennis courts nearby, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. You can also experience the ultimate swimming oasis, offering year-round swimming, free entry, BBQ facilities, and fitness classes, without worries of stingers or crocs.

Explore lush greenery, vibrant blooms, and peaceful pathways at Cairns Botanic Gardens. With five unique sections to explore this botanical wonderland showcases over 4,000 tropical plant species from around the world.

Nestled in the Cairns CBD, the Cairns Art Gallery. With a gift shop and café on-site, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the vibrant art and culture of Tropical North Queensland.

Discover the awe-inspiring Tanks Arts Centre, a local institution like no other. This innovative venue in the Cairns Botanic Gardens hosts a dazzling array of live music, comedy, theatre, workshops, markets, and visual arts.


Taking the Plunge into Freshwater Pools

Dive into Stoney Creek

Reset at Crystal Cascades

Slide into fun at Josephine Falls

What better way to jumpstart your adventure than by plunging into the natural pools that dot this captivating region? We’ve selected just a few to get you started.

Located only 20 minutes from the city is Stoney Creek. This serene oasis promises a refreshing dip. Be an early bird and seize the opportunity to have this swimming hole all to yourself!

Only 15 minutes from away from Stoney Creek is the captivating Crystal Cascades. It boasts a series of sparkling turquoise pools and cascading waterfalls that are straight out of a dream. Follow the 1.5-kilometre trail that leads to swimming holes and a stunning waterfall. Enjoy a barbecue, picnic, and convenient toilet facilities in the nearby area.

Fancy heading a little further afield? Head an hour south of Cairns to Wooroonooran National Park where you’ll find Josephine Falls. Fancy experiencing the falls on a tour? Join Waterfall Wanderers where you can also spot native wildlife and indulge in a tropical picnic lunch at Babinda Boulders. Or, hop on “Gus the Wonder Bus” with Uncle Brians – you’ll have an incredible day exploring waterfalls, rainforests, and wildlife. Swim in Josephine Falls, snap a pic at Millaa Millaa Falls and dive into ancient Lake Eacham.

Unleash Your Inner Adrenaline Junkie

Cairns is bursting at the seams with adrenaline-fuelled escapades! We’ve handpicked a few of thrilling adventures for you to hook your teeth into.

Join Cairns Adventure Group for an epic and affordable experience with their Cairns Tubing Tours. For under $100 per person you’ll get return transfers, training, equipment, professional guide and up to 2 hours of Tubing. Brace yourself for thrilling rapids and unforgettable moments.

Experience the thrill of Bad Fishy Jet Boat Ride for just $79 per person! Get ready for a heart-pounding extravaganza as the boat dances to the beat, showcasing spins, slides, power-brakes, and jaw-dropping 360-degree stunts.

Unleash your inner superhero as the Giant Swing at Skypark catapults you 45 metres high, soaring above the rainforest canopy with unbeatable views of the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns City.

Lose yourself in the Daintree

Embrace your inner adventurer and explore at your own pace by self-guiding yourself through the Daintree. However, if you want to join a tour, you can get the best bang for your buck with Cairns Adventure Group’s budget-friendly option to explore the Daintree! Brace yourself for an action-packed Cape Tribulation Day Tour that includes scenic drives, invigorating dips at Mossman Gorge, a mouthwatering rainforest lunch, guided walks through lush greenery, picture-perfect moments at every turn, and a sweet treat to top it all off at Daintree Ice Cream Co.

You can also experience it all at Active Tropics Explorer, their budget-friendly version of the epic Daintree Rainforest, Mossman Gorge, and Cape Tribulation day tour, sans the wildlife cruise.

Want to combine Cape Tribulation with chasing waterfalls? Uncle Brian’s has the tour for you! Choose their “Best of Both Worlds” tour. Chase waterfalls, swim in pristine crater lakes, stargaze during Australia’s only night canoeing tour, and explore Cape Tribulation. Spot crocodiles on a Daintree river cruise and enjoy relaxing beach walks.

Plunge into an Aquatic Wonderland


Embark on a budget-friendly reef adventure with a visit to Fitzroy Island with Sunlover or Reef Unlimited. Rather head over to Green Island? Hop on Big Cat Reef Cruises  or Great Adventures. Both islands have the option to snorkel, explore fringing reefs, and enjoy a rainforest walks. While it can get crowded with day cruisers, it’s a great introduction to the reef’s beauty.

Fancy a full day on the outer reef? Join Passions of Paradise for an unforgettable adventure exploring the vibrant Great Barrier Reef, where passion meets preservation for an awe-inspiring experience. Enjoy free guided snorkelling, chef-prepared tropical buffet, delightful tea breaks, and captivating presentations by our Eco accredited marine naturalists.

Savour and Save

Savour seafood at Prawn Star

Have yourself some fun at Rattle N Hum

Find your bite at Rustys Market

Grab some pub grub at P.J O'Briens

Prepare your taste buds for a thrifty feast, because Cairns has got a smorgasbord of fantastic dining options that won’t burn a hole in your wallet!

Round up your squad and rally around for a mouthwatering feast! Docked at Cairns Marlin Marina, Prawn Star is known for its quirky vibe, affordable prices, and on-the-go options.

At Rattle ‘n’ Hum you get bang for your buck! This place is a master of multitasking, serving up affordable scrumptious bites while delivering top-notch live entertainment and serving as the ultimate sports hub.

Dive into the vibrant world of Rustys Markets, a beloved Cairns icon buzzing every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This eclectic hotspot lures in locals and tourists alike with its freshest locally sourced produce. Join the multicultural fiesta and explore the treasure trove of flavours.

From happy hour specials to tantalising food and drink combos, P.J O’Briens Pub knows how to keep the good times rolling without breaking the bank. After enjoying your delicious meal, dive into a night of entertainment with weekly karaoke and trivia events.

Hit the town!

With lively bars, clubs, and budget-friendly venues, you can unleash your inner party animal without emptying your wallet.

Party like there’s no tomorrow at Gilligan’s, the ultimate backpacker haven with two incredible on-site nightclubs! Get ready to dance the night away and make unforgettable memories.

With different nightly themes and a lively dance floor, The Woolshed is a must do. Feeling the burn from all that grooving? There’s seating on the mezzanine, and a Balcony overlooking the city. Descend into The Cotton Club, where it tantalises taste buds in the evening then transforms into an intimate cocktail and dance venue later on.

Beer your thing? Head to Hemingways! This heritage-listed venue offers stunning views of the Trinity Inlet while brewing award-winning beer on-site. Indulge in locally crafted spirits and a delightful wine selection. Keep an eye out for happy hours!

Find the perfect digs

From cozy hostels to pocket-friendly hotels, our selection will have you resting in comfort without breaking the bank.

Situated right on the Esplanade waterfront, Global Backpackers Cairns is lively hostel puts you within a stone’s throw of the Lagoon, boardwalk, marina, restaurants, shops, and nightlife – making it a perfect base for your adventures.

You’ve probably heard about the wild parties at Gilligans, but did you know you can also crash there? That’s right, folks! Gilligans isn’t just a party paradise, it’s also a fantastic place to lay your head and catch some Z’s. Whether you’re seeking a comfy dorm bed or a private room, Gilligans has got you covered.

Welcome to the fabulous YHA resort-style property in the heart of town. Situated across from the main shopping hub and just a block from the train station, convenience is their middle name. Indulge in the local cafes, restaurants, and pubs surrounding them. With comfortable common areas, a swimming pool, and a social BBQ area, you’ll experience the ultimate tropical chill-out.

So grab your sense of adventure and prepare for the most unforgettable experience of your life!

Carry on the fun in TNQ!

Find out why our region reigns supreme!