Cairns Pictures,  Australia

Cairns lagoon, Australia

Cairns’ beautiful, free – and most importantly safe from deadly critters – seaside lagoon.

Cairns is Australia’s favourite tourist destination after Sydney

Tropical Cairns is hub for a hundred activities on the Great Barrier Reef and up at Kuranda and Daintree, as well as being the start of the great Australian waltz 2, 400 kms (1, 500 miles) down the east coast back to Sydney.

One little problem with Cairns though, is that it doesn’t do beaches, mainly because there aren’t any attractive stretches of sand in the vicinity and if there were you wouldn’t want to go into the waters due to the array of unpleasant and occasionally deadly creatures therein, ranging from highly toxic box jellies through Tiger sharks and on to Salt Water Crocs.
This problem with the seaside is neatly solved in Cairns and other coastal towns by council-provided salt-water lagoons, free to enter and neatly landscaped with shade trees and sandy beaches, small but perfectly formed.

Comment from Steve Hambleton:

You couldn’t be any more wrong! I’ll admit that the city centre doesn’t have a nice beach but there are world class beaches about 20km to the north like Trinity Beach and Palm Cove.

Also, you make out that the seas are as dangerous as the Jurassic! Stingers come out during the wet season but otherwise, it’s a safe place to hang out. Probably less dangerous than Sydney, Perth or Adelaide!

Cairns lagoon sunbathing, Australia

Another angle on Cairns’ lagoon and seafront. Topless sunbathing is permitted. The beach is artificial and the sea is the dark grey slice in the background.

Previously a backpacker boogie town, Cairns buzzes with urban energy and now embraces upmarket visitors as well and seems particularly attached to its Japanese clientele, with Japanese signs, language spoken and flights direct from Japan though recently Chinese tourists are becoming more dominant with direct flights from various Chinese cities such as Shanghai.

Cairns city centre, Australia

Cairns’ city centre. Photo by Bahnfrend.

Things to Do in Cairns

In addition to Cairns’ successful waterfront makeover recently the town offers an attractive tree-lined esplanade and extensive shady kid’s playground beside the muddy shore, just try not to stagger onto the adjacent mud after too many beers at the hilarious toad races.

Cairns is loaded with accommodation of all types but the core of the town is clearly the lagoon so try to get a place within a couple of blocks of it unless you don’t mind hanging out in your hotel’s pool and eating in their restaurant.

Cairns promenade, Australia

Plenty of kid’s stuff to keep the rugrats occupied too.

Cairns’ original raison d’etre was The Great Barrier Reef and various agencies still transport thousands out the the reef every day on all sorts of craft ranging from vast tourist-packed catamarans to neat little sailing yachts. However, whilst the reef – at about 2, 300kms long – is the largest on the planet, a World Heritage site and the only living thing visible from space, the view from sea level or below is less impressive.

Rainforest Boardwalk, Cairns, Botanic, Gardens, Australia

Rainforest Boardwalk, Cairns Botanic Gardens. Photo by brewbooks.

Day Trips from Cairns


Another trip that may be a little less colourful than expectations, is the Kuranda /Skyrail event, a day starting with the throughly sanitised but worthy aboriginal theme park – the Tjapukai Cultural Park, then a 7. 5km Skyrail ride over the rainforest to totally tourist overloaded Kuranda – though if you can manage to stay overnight the town changes for the better after the last train leaves.
Kuranda offers rainforest walks, markets, and various wildlife sanctuaries, aka zoos. The return to Cairns may be on the Scenic Railway – again, pictures of those follow.


Cairns rainforest cableway, Daintree, Australia

Cairns rainforest cableway, Daintree. Photo by Louise Marshall.

The Daintree Rainforest, where tropical rainforest meets coral reef in north Queensland is also pretty tame on a day trip, but go a bit deeper over several days with a good guide and you will find flora and fauna that may surprise you.
Most mammals are nocturnal (possums, tree kangaroos) but there are plenty of colourful birds, parrots, kingfishers, cassowaries, as well as ornamented lizards, frilled dragons, frogs, snakes and butterflies that slither or flutter through the dense forest of rose gums, palms, ferns, and strangler figs.

Best season in Cairns

The best time to be in Cairns is May-June or September-October, when rainfall is least, humidity is a little less oppressive and average daytime temperatures tend to be quite hot (around 28C/82F) as opposed to withering (31C+/88F+).
May-November has least clouds and rain but July-August is winter down south and school holidays so expect prices to be high, accommodation scarce and activities full. Heaviest rainfall – and this is a tropical city so we mean HEAVY – buckets down January- March. That being said, rain tends to arrive all at once so it’s both spectacular and short-lived.