There is so much to explore and experience in Cairns. I have been a few times this year and my first piece of advice is to prepare for the heat but also embrace it. On my first trip to Cairns which was at the end of Summer (very humid and can be quite wet) I had an action packed adventure in the Atherton Tablelands. I went on a 4WD experience with a friend of mine who took me to an amazing waterfall called Windin Falls, unfortunately this is very hard to get to without someone who is experienced in 4WDing but if you can, do it. The Atherton Tablelands is a beautiful place to visit even if you can’t make it up to Windin falls, there is plenty of other waterfalls that can be accessed without a 4WD for example Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls.
Further north is the magical little town of Kuranda which they call “the village in the rainforest.” It is well worth checking out the markets and walking the Barron Falls track. I haven’t been on the Skyrail or the Scenic Railway but I can only imagine the view would be amazing from either of them.
On my second trip to Cairns I went in July and the weather was PERFECT. I went hot air ballooning in the Tablelands and although it was an early start and quite cold up in the mountains it was well worth it. The view from up above was unbelievable, the whole experience felt very safe even if you are a sook (like me). The amazing thing about hot air balloons is that there is this really peaceful silence when you are up in the air.
On this trip I also went snorkelling around Green Island (a tiny, beautiful island about 45 mins boat trip from Cairns). I got to swim along side two green sea turtles which was enough to make me happy. The best part about heading North during winter is that the temperature is perfect in and out of the water. Not to mention that there isn’t any stingers in winter so you don’t have to wear telly-tubby stinger suits.
The accommodation options are endless in Cairns which makes it a great place for any kind of traveller. I have stayed in hostels, caravan parks and hotels and have found them all to be an enjoyable experience. You can make any trip affordable if you are willing to spend a few nights in a hostel, (which I personally think is really fun) doing this means that you have more money to spend on fun stuff. If you want to spend a bit more to stay somewhere nice, I recommend booking ahead as Cairns (during the times I have been there) is always packed with travellers. The good thing about all the travellers is that Cairns is always buzzing and the night life is pretty fun most nights of the week. It is a great place to meet like-minded souls that also have the travel bug.
The next thing to do while you’re in Cairns is travel up to Port Douglas (about an hour drive), if you don’t have a car then take a bus. The road to Port Douglas hugs the shoreline, on one side of the road is rainforest and on the other is the ocean which is as beautiful as it sounds, especially on a clear day. It really is a worthwhile drive, Port Douglas is a chilled out little beach town that has some really nice lookouts, shops and places to eat.
I plan on checking out Fitzroy Island and the Low Islands next time I’m there. Around the Low Islands you can go sailing as the sun goes down and take your own drinks, which sounds nice to me. To sum it all up, Cairns is great. Take your swimmers and your sunscreen and don’t forget to drink water (easy to get dehydrated up North). Soak up the sunshine, embrace the beauty and if you love sea food (like I do) make sure you checkout some of the restaurants on the Esplanade or the pier. I really enjoyed Dundee’s (although it is a little bit pricey). Also, a reminder that Google maps is your friend.