Prepare to take a lungful of fresh sea air and dive into the outdoor adventure playground that is Cairns. This energetic, youthful city, in the state of Queensland on the east coast of Australia, is hugely popular with visitors for many reasons: beautiful gardens, cool clubs, rainforests, lush tropical vistas, and a diverse assortment of natural wonders. But the undeniable main draw of Cairns is one of the world's most astounding natural beauties: the Great Barrier Reef.
Amiable and welcoming, the city of Cairns is cherished by tourists for the fun times on offer and the tropical climate that keeps skin bronzed and life outdoors.
Hotels in Cairns are mostly located in the central area of the city, close to attractions and within easy reach of the dive centres that will whisk you off to an underwater reef paradise.
There is much to see and do in the city itself, so basing your holiday centrally is a good idea, especially if you like to be within walking distance of the charms of Cairns. International big-brand chains have hotels in this area, with many offering glorious sea views. Look for names such as Ibis, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Novotel, Pullman, Shangri-La, Best Western and Park Regis. There's also a plethora of budget Cairns hotels, thanks to the city's popularity with backpackers. Whatever your taste, whether it's a cheap bed for the night, or a luxury hotel with spa treats and top-notch facilities, you can find it in central Cairns.
There are also a number of surrounding areas that lure tourists. Palm Cove is a beach community located a few miles north of Cairns. If you want to immerse yourself in a world of palm trees and white sands, while still being close to the city, this is a great choice. Just south of Palm Cove is Trinity Beach, another popular beach-side holiday hotspot with a backdrop of lush tropical hills.
Top five attractions
Great Barrier Reef
The world's largest reef is mere minutes from Cairns and there are hundreds of fish species, coral and sponges to see. Learn to dive here, or simply see, snorkel and smile.
Watch the sunrise, tuck into fresh seafood, and saunter along the stunning foreshore of Cairns, or dive into the huge saltwater swimming lagoon.
Flecker Botanic Gardens
A verdant tropical oasis, the free-to-enter gardens are located a short distance from the city centre and contain a vast array of native plants, trees and flowers.
Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
The rainforest village of Kuranda is a beguiling place in which to spend a few hours. Reach it using the Skyrail; your cable car glides over the rainforest canopy.
A secluded swimming hole and waterfall in the rainforest, this is the perfect spot to visit to cool down in summer.
Australia Day; January: Celebrate the national day in typical Aussie style, with a beach breakfast, a barbecue lunch, and plenty of fun and frivolity throughout the day. The Esplanade is the centre of much of the activity.
Cairns Show; July: A diverse range of events, displays and exhibits take place during this popular three-day show at Parramatta Park; book hotels in advance to secure rooms, especially those near Parramatta Park.
Cairns Festival; August/September: Creativity, culture and sport are the headlines of this festival, which runs for three weeks in the southern hemisphere's spring time. The festival graces various locations around Cairns.