With its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. Going for a swim on the largest coral reef in the world might be the most sought-after experience in Cairns, however, with a little bit of effort, it is easy to see that it is far from the only activity worth your time. After almost nine months of molding myself into a Cairns local, I would like to say that I experienced everything the town has to offer, but that would be an impossible task to overcome. Located in far Northern Queensland, Cairns is a small town with an abundance of personality and an endless amount of adventure that is certain to keep any traveler entertained.
Coffee and food
Cruze World Coffee
If you are a coffee addict like myself, it would be absolutely life-altering for you to visit Cruze Coffees. Walking into the Cruze for the first time was equivalent to the walking through the pearly gates of the Aroma Heavens, home to the Coffee Gods that you didn’t even know existed. There is a buffet of worldly coffee beans to captivate your taste buds and put the pep in your step that you are looking for. If you feel lost in the plethora options, ask one of the amazing employees behind the counter to give you the spiel on the selections and help you limit your options. I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Cruze each morning and the Cruze crew never failed to make my day a hundred times brighter.
A necessity in every place I live in is finding the perfect breakfast location. Located in the center of town on Grafton Street, Lillipad Café was the exact answer to my breakfast needs. The menu is extensive and has options for even the pickiest of eaters. I frequented Lillipad Café roughly once a week for nine months and the food never disappointed myself or my friends. With portion sizes that are unlikely to be beaten by anywhere else in town, it is nearly impossible for customers of Lillipad to leave the restaurant hungry, and there is a 100% chance you will leave thinking about the next time you can go back for another meal.
As I said before, there is an insurmountable amount of adventures to go on in Cairns and the surrounding areas. Take a day trip to Fitzroy Island and swim with sea turtles or spend the morning walking through the Cairns Aquarium to get an above ground experience of the Great Barrier Reef. Rent a car and explore one of the oldest, most biodiverse rainforests in the world at Daintree National Park or tackle a scenic driving tour to multiple different waterfalls. The options are endless, but of course, there are some of the more iconic options available to quench anyone’s quest seeking thirst.
AJ Hackett Cairns
Standing 50 meters (164 feet) high, AJ Hackett is ideal for any thrill seeker or adrenaline junkie. With a menu containing 16 different styles of jumps and a giant swing that propels you through the jungle, a day spent at AJ Hackett is a day for your bucket list. I don’t know how to explain it, but there is something incredibly liberating about jumping off of a frighteningly tall platform and freefalling in the middle of the jungle. For those of you looking for the ultimate thrill, you can jump your way up to conquer the world’s only BMX ride off of the tower roof. Not interested in getting over your fear of heights? That’s not a problem – there is a comfortable seating area for anyone who just wants to come along for moral support and a bar that is ready to serve anyone liquid courage before they take the big leap.
Dive or Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef
Walking through the streets of Cairns will prove to be difficult without passing by a dive shop or travel company advertising days out to biggest tourist attraction in Cairns – The Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is quite literally in the backyard to Cairns. Stretching over 2,300 kilometers, it has been labeled one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Passions of Paradise offers incredible tours to the outer most part of the reef. The Passions crew visits two different sites on each trip, and they tend to go to different locations most days. In addition, they offer coffee and tea for breakfast, a beautiful lunch buffet in between the snorkel or dive locations, and have in-water photographers to capture unforgettable moments.
Cairns Bar Hopping
Gilligan’s Backpacker Resort
Anyone who visits Cairns understands very quickly that there is only a handful of places to spend an evening dancing the night away. Gilligan’s is the hub of backpacker night-life in town and offers different specials every night of the week. Show off your weird talent on Monday Nights at the talent competition to win awesome prizes, go out on Thursday’s for ladies night and get some complimentary champagne (don’t worry gentlemen, you can throw on that old dress in the back of your closet and get some champagne too), or sit in the outdoor seating area to socialize with your friends poolside during the day. Arrive early to avoid the lines, enjoy the live music in the front bar, and get ready for an eventful night out that is sure to end with hilarious memories and new friends.
Salt House is a massive outdoor venue with unbeatable views of the Cairns Marina. With comfortable day beds, live music, and awesome food specials, it is the best place to unwind after a long day. Salt House has an extensive craft cocktail menu, delicious draft beer, and has recently opened up a pizzeria that boasts a variety of pizza concoctions. Every Monday night from “8 til late”, Salt House hosts Hospitality Night. Drinks start at $4.50, the resident DJ is there to keep the party going until the night is over, and the crowd is nothing short of lively and entertaining.
Adventure is around the corner
Maybe I am biased because I created a wonderful life for myself in this tiny Australian town, but Cairns is home to some of my most unforgettable memories. There are not many places on this big, beautiful rock that can offer the kinds of journeys that are found around Cairns. Whether you plan a quick trip or an extended stay, the options for filling your day with unbelievable experiences is unlimited.