The minute you land you know you have arrived in Cairns as you are greeted with the tropical warm air and lush green mountains that surround it.
Cairns is the major jumping-off point for the extraordinary Great Barrier Reef, the lush Daintree Rainforest and slow road trips through the beautiful countryside of the Atherton Tablelands. The food is great too, with some of the country's finest chefs setting up five star restaurants in the luxe outpost of Port Douglas.
* Prices are in AUD and based on payment at qantas.com by BPAY or POLi for bookings made 7 days or more before departure or by debit or prepaid card for bookings made within 7 days of departure. A fee applies for other card payments. Fares may not be available on all flights or days. Some flights are operated by partner or subsidiary airlines.
Most visitors use Cairns as a base from which to plan their itinerary. There is a variety of great things to see and do.
- Snorkel or dive the beautiful Great Barrier Reef with an array of outer reef tour operators that offer options to cater for all types of activities.
- Thrill seekers can head out on safari and spot local saltwater crocodiles in their natural habitat - the Daintree River is a popular spot for this, or visit Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.
- Visit the ever popular Tjapukai Cultural Park. Nearby Skyrail provides day and night time tours and activities.
- Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre offers guided walks through the rainforest from local Kuku Yalanji tour guides.
You'll fly into Cairns Airport ten minutes from the CBD. Make this you're hub for exploring the tropics and reef. Alternatively by car 25 minutes north of Cairns is Palm Cove, an hour is Port Douglas and two and a half hours is the Daintree.
The CBD is bounded by Cairns Central Shopping and the Cairns railway station to the west, the airport to the north and the council buildings to the south. Most services and places of interest are concentrated around the Reef Fleet Terminal with wharves, a marina, restaurants/bars and shopping centre at The Pier.
North of Cairns and Palm Cove
Northwest of the city Stratford and Freshwater are residential suburbs with some trendy cafes while to north from there is a string of beach suburbs that run in order: Machans Beach, Holloways Beach and Yorkeys Knob – these residential areas also have cafes and holiday accommodation and there's good wind-surfing at Yorkeys Knob. Next up is the shopping hub of Smithfield centre and from here the beaches run Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach and Clifton Beach to end with swanky, spa capital Palm Cove. After Palm Cove there is the wide sandy beach of Buchan's Point and Ellis Beach.
Port Douglas CBD
Part of the Daintree Rainforest and located 20km north of Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge is one of the region's star attractions. The new Mossman Gorge Centre, an indigenous eco-tourism experience where local Aboriginal guides give visitors a genuine, authentic and unique insight into the local area. Relax afterwards in one of Mossman's historic pubs.
You'll need a 4WD to get around some parts of Cape Tribulation, a world heritage listed national park, accessible by ferry but it's worth the trip. Enjoy empty Robinson-Crusoe style beaches, pristine bushwalking tracks through the rainforest and one of Australia's richest diversity of flora and fauna.
Australian Dollar (AU$)
220-240V / 50 Hz
There are two distinct weather seasons Cairns experiences each year like the rest of Queensland. Winter falls between April and September, with slightly cooler but warm temperatures and minimal rain. Summer is October to March with hot, sticky temperatures and heavy rainfall periods.
From the Airport
From the airport, there are plenty of transport options to get to Cairns or your hotel. Airport Connect is a public transport link that gets you to the city centre or the northern Beaches. Taxis and Rental Cars can be booked from the Airport upon arrival. Transfers and Limousines and the Sun Palm Bus can be pre booked to pick you up and take you to your hotel.
Getting around Cairns CBD is best done on foot. To get to surrounding areas it is best in your (hire) car as it gives you freedom to get out and explore the surrounding area and enjoy the best of the region. Alternatively the local public transport Sunbus is great to get to most surrounding areas in Cairns and the beaches.
Cairns car hire
Take off from Cairns in your own car and visit Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation and the luxe beach destination of Port Douglas. Qantas Points^ per A$1 spent on the Base Rate within Australia.
Your flight with Qantas
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Eligible customers can relax in style before their next flight in our stylish Cairns Qantas Club.
* Prices are not guaranteed until payment is made. Add Card Payment Fee per passenger, per booking: credit/debit cards AU$7 domestic or trans-Tasman or AU$30 international; debit/prepaid cards AU$2.50 domestic or trans-Tasman or AU$10 international. Also add AU$30 for domestic or AU$60 international per passenger for bookings made on 13 13 13 or at the airport. Passengers booking Premium Economy will be seated in Economy on domestic connections. Check the fare rules for more details before booking. Inclusions vary between flights. All schedules subject to change, including last minute aircraft changes. QantasLink flights operated by Sunstate Airlines (Qld) Pty Ltd ABN 82 009 734 703, Eastern Australia Airlines Pty Ltd ABN 77 001 599 024, and National Jet Systems Pty Ltd ABN 11 008 279 203. Licence No per state: QLD – 407, NSW – 2TA000237, VIC – 30362, SA – TTA155, WA – 9TA52.
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** Prices are per room, per night and vary depending on date of check in, length of stay and room type. Conditions apply.
~ Qantas activities are provided by Viator. Conditions apply.