Things to do in Cairns
From swimming with the fishes to tramping through lush jungle, Cairns offers no end of memorable excursions, while the town itself presents more laid-back pleasures, plus plenty of opportunities to tuck into nourishing Aussie cuisine.
The great outdoors
For most visitors, Cairns is all about the Great Barrier Reef. One of the most extensive coral reef system in the world, spanning an area of 133,000 square miles, this is an underwater paradise teeming with aquatic life in all the colours of the rainbow. You can experience it up close and personal by going on a day cruise with stops for snorkelling and diving, or you can get a bird's eye view by booking a helicopter ride. But that's not the only showstopping feature of the local landscape.
You also won't want to miss Daintree Rainforest, the largest tract of tropical woodland in the whole of Australia, where you can see an array of exotic Aussie fauna such as the tree dwelling kangaroo. Day trips are available, or you can stay in an eco-lodge or take a boat up the Daintree River. Also well worth a visit is the the Atherton Tableland, with its waterfalls, nature parks and communities of artisans and farmers.
When it comes to high octane activities, visitors to *Cairns are spoilt for choice. There's white water rafting on the rapids of the River Tully and sky diving over the Great Barrier Reef, to name just two of the most spectacular options. You can also go bungee jumping, hang gliding, trail biking and big game fishing; or for a more peaceful time you can spend a quiet day angling on the shores of Lake Tinaro. It's a thrill seekers delight.
On Saturday mornings the Esplanade comes alive with stalls selling bangles, beauty products and local couture, a chance to grab a bargain while breathing in a refreshing sea breeze. Operating three days a week in the city centre, Rusty's Market is the place to go for local dairy, seafood and succulent mangoes and dragon fruit. Meanwhile on Friday nights there's a market at Palm Cove which has colourful aboriginal art for sale.
Food and drink
There is no shortage of friendly, relaxed pubs, bars and eateries both in the town centre and on the waterfront, from the Rattle n Hum pizza parlour on the Esplanade to the Cape York Hotel, an old family-run hostelry that's something of a local icon. For a glitzier experience, try the Reef Hotel Casino, which offers a mix of swanky bars, good food and live entertainment.