Family at Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Where to go

Cairns & Northern Beaches

Cairns is the Bustling Heart of Tropical North Queensland

Hop on a boat for the Great Barrier Reef, venture inland in search of lush rainforest or just kick back and embrace the laid-back tropical lifestyle.

One of the things that defines this part of the world for me is the cloud that rests gently on the tips of the mountains as dawn comes up over Cairns

Andy Ridley – CEO, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

Rocco by Crystalbrook


Cairns has grown from ramshackle port town to stylish modern city – the erstwhile capital of Tropical North Queensland, with a year-round outdoor lifestyle. Here you can bar-hop, rock-hop or island-hop on the same day.

Welcome to Cairns, the real urban jungle

Leafy rainforest garden at the Cairns Botanic Gardens


The Tanks Art Centre hosts live music, comedy, contemporary art exhibitions, workshops and children’s theatre in an intimate venue. Walk through the leafy Botanic Gardens, along the shore of Lake Morris or tackle the winding steps of the Red Arrow track through the Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.

Rainforest near Cairns

prawn star cairns


But don’t let that small-town vibe fool you. With its distinctive multicultural mix, Cairns buzzes with innovative eateries, on-trend bars, stylish boutiques and galleries. Visit laneway bar Three Wolves to taste one of the 50 types of whiskey on the menu, or check out Prawn Star, a prawn trawler turned floating restaurant that serves up some of the freshest local prawns and seafood in the city – with a cold brew, of course!

Eat local


Vlasoff Cay aerial Great Barrier Reef


The city is tucked between two of Tropical North Queensland’s greatest natural treasures – the marine playground of the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics Rainforest, which means adventure is never far away. Almost 30 boats leave Cairns every day for the reef and in less than an hour you can be snorkelling or diving in Australia’s most spectacular underwater environment. Inland, hike through sun-dappled forest on the Douglas Track to Glacier Rock, swim in the cascading pools of nearby Crystal Cascades or glide just metres over the canopy of tropical rainforest on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

The Great Barrier Reef

Swimming in Cairns lagoon



There’s no beach in Cairns, so locals and visitors alike cool off in the sparkling Esplanade Lagoon. This 4800 sq m saltwater pool is lined with parks, shady banyan trees, boardwalks and barbecues.


If you need a beach fix, head for Cairns’ Northern Beaches, a string of sleepy seaside villages about 15 minutes from the city. They are a favourite with locals and each has its own unique character, like the family-friendly Trinity, the kite-surfing hub of Yorkeys Knob or the relaxed Holloways.

Guide to Cairns beaches


  • Burn off some of the holiday calories with one of the free outdoor exercise classes held six mornings a week along the Esplanade. Choose from aqua aerobics in the lagoon, Zumba, yoga, pilates, boxing, beach volleyball and more.

  • Rusty’s Market has been supplying Cairns with its fresh fruit and vegetables for more than 40 years. Juicy mangoes, native bush fruits, excellent coffee and pop-up food trucks are just some of the temptations. Open Friday and Saturday, 5am-6pm; Sunday, 5am-3pm.

  • Cairns is a very welcoming city and you’ll feel at home right away. It’s also easy to get around and everything in the CBD is within walking distance.

  • Each November sees the annual coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef. This is a great time to visit for snorkelling or diving.

Discover More

There’s so much to do in Cairns. Check out the bustling markets and vibrant nightlife, or use the city as a jumping-off point to explore the Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics Rainforest or the Atherton Tablelands.

Emerald Creek Falls
20 waterfalls near Cairns

Mighty mountain ranges and Wet Tropics Rainforest create the optimum environment for a myriad of extraordinary waterfalls. Fall in love with these 20 waterfall wonderlands only a short drive from Cairns.

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16 things to do on your first trip to Cairns

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Keep cool in Cairns: ways to beat the summer heat

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How to explore the rainforest near Cairns

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8 Road Trips From Cairns

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14 Cairns lookouts to soak up the scenery

If you like to start your holiday by getting a lay of the land, you’re in luck, because Cairns has an array of stunning lookouts. With a Coral Sea front garden and an ancient rainforest out the back, the views from these Cairns lookouts are nothing short of showstopping.

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Dog friendly travel in Cairns

Travelling with your four legged bestie doesn’t have to be ruff! From pooch friendly swimming holes to eateries with dog menus, this guide to dog friendly travel in Cairns ensures that your pooch enjoys their time in the sun.

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Guide to Cairns Beaches

A chain of relaxed seaside villages lay just north of Cairns, each boasting their own unique features. Find out more about each of Cairns’ beaches and which tickle your fancy.

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Accessible Travel in Cairns & Palm Cove

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10 Cafes in Cairns for great coffee

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Great places to go camping near Cairns

Are your campsites better described as camp palaces, or do you just roll with the bare essentials? Whether you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other, lace up your hiking shoes, load up your 4WD (or hatchback) and string your fairy lights around these camping sites near Cairns.

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A guide to Trinity Beach

Located just 30 minutes north of Cairns, Trinity Beach is a relaxed seaside village waiting to be explored.

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Things to do on a Sunday in Cairns

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Where to shop local in Cairns City

Step away from the mainstream chain stores and hit the city streets to browse an array of local Cairns shops.

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Leafy rainforest garden at the Cairns Botanic Gardens
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Nourish Your Soul in the Cairns Botanic Gardens

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11 Best markets near Cairns

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Seafood lovers’ guide to Cairns

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Bars & breweries to check out in Cairns CBD

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Mudcrab to mangoes: your guide to eating local in Cairns

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Cairns Esplanade aerial

Getting here

  • Runway at Cairns airport

    By air

    Air travel is a popular choice of transport for many tourists traveling to Tropical North Queensland, with direct flights from all major cities and also from a number of Australia’s regional centres.

  • By boat

    Cairns Ports North hosts numerous large cruise ships and private boats regularly throughout the calendar year. Board from one of many Queensland coastal towns.

  • View of Walshs Pyramid

    By car

    Why not turn your holiday to Tropical North Queensland into an “epic road trip”? If along the way you feel peckish, stop at some of the farmers markets or roadside fruit stalls and savour gorgeous local tropical fruits.

  • Greyhound bus in Cairns

    By coach

    Coaches depart multiple times daily from Brisbane and travel up the east coast to Tropical North Queensland. The direct journey can take approximately 30 hours, so you can relax and experience the ever-changing scenery as you travel through almost 2000km of Queensland countryside.


From five-star to budget-friendly, you will find an abundance of accommodation in Cairns.

What’s On

In Cairns, you can see a world-famous artist perform at the Tanks Art Centre, visit one of the monthly markets or cheer with the crowd at a local sporting match.

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

In case you didn’t already know, @queensland has some pretty epic locations right here on our own shores…especially in Tropical North Queensland 🌴⛵️

Did you know that all of this and more lies just a 2 hour drive from Cairns!? Say hello to the incredible @cassowarycoastaustralia ☀️🏝️

🎥 @_chelseacavo_ #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #cassowarycoast #missionbeach

[ID: clips of Mission Beach and Cassowary Coast including: Resort entry overlooking the pool with a pink and yellow sky in the background; boating experience showing snorkelling, blue ocean waters and golden sandy beaches]
Where better to get your party on this pride month than Tropical North Queensland? 🌈✨

Head to our bio link to join in the festivities and celebrate Cairns’ colourful LGBT+ community ☝️

🎥 thanks to @turtlecoveresort @cairnspridefestival @calypsoclubcairns for footage #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr #pride #lgbt
Don’t have time to visit the Great Barrier Reef while you’re in #Cairns? Or if you just want to learn a little more about the reef, there’s nowhere better to explore than the @cairns_aquarium 🩵🐠

🎥 @tabithalipkin #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia 

[ID: Clips of the Cairns Aquarium and marine life that is housed inside it. Text on screen reads: An aquarium that brings the Great Barrier Reef to you”
Today we take time to commemorate the brave men & women who have served our nation in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

Soldiers from Tropical North Queensland joined the defence force to help protect Australia, including many Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people. Thanks to these people, we now live in an incredible location that we’re very proud of 💙🌴

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the region, visit the Cairns Museum or check out some of the many historical sites around the region including the ANZAC trail ✨

Lest We Forget ❤️
Good morning #Cairns 👋👋 

🎥 @trendy.neo #explorecairnsgbr #exploretnq

[ID Warm orange and yellow sunrise over Cairns]
#Cairns like you've never seen it 🌸🩵

The nothern beaches of Cairns really do get some incredible views, like this one in breathtaking Yorkeys Knob 📍

🎥 @avillagail #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr
It might be raining, but that doesn't mean you can't splash about in the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon! (what are you scared of getting wet?) 😉

Did you know that the fish sculptures at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, by Torres Strait Islander artist Brian Robinson, are modelled on smaller fish usually woven with palm leaves in traditional Indigenous artwork 🐠🌴 

#Cairns is the perfect place to spend the day on your next tropical holiday - quirky markets, incredible food & luxury stays, this is where your holiday begins ☀️🌊 
​📸 @aquilina_nikki #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland 

[ID: person facing their back to the camera while swimming in the water at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon (swimming pool) in front of fish sculptures]
Wondering what to do on your next holiday in Cairns? We’ve got you covered! 🌴✈️

📍 Barron Falls, Josephine Falls & Millaa Millaa Falls
📍 @fitzroyisland 
📍 @cairnswaterfalls 
📍 Great Barrier Reef 
📍 @cairns_aquarium 

#exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr
Brb, busy falling for Nandroya Falls 🌴🩵

Found just a 1.5 hour drive from Cairns, this stunning waterfall is one of our favourites (and if you've been there, we're sure you can understand why!) 🙌

📍 To get here, head south from Cairns along the Palmerston Highway. The waterfall lies just a short hike through the rainforest 🤩🌿

📸 @rachelsholliday #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr

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