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Cairns might be predominantly known for its easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, but there are plenty of sights and attractions in town itself that are worth your attention. Even if you’re just using Cairns as a basecamp as you trek through the lush Daintree Rainforest or swim amongst coral gardens, make sure you spend some quality time in the CBD. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Cairns CBD information
Lounge by the lagoon
The Cairns Esplanade is situated in the heart of Cairns at the foreshore and has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The main attraction is the 4,800 square metre saltwater lagoon that provides simmers safe swimming opportunity all year.
This is quite important when you consider Cairns doesn’t have its own beach per se, but a muddy tidal swamp that the saltwater crocodile calls home. You know you’re in a tropical climate when crocs are more of a concern than sharks when swimming in the ocean.
Don’t worry, you won’t be able to distinguish the Esplanade lagoon from the real thing, as you lounge on manmade sandy beaches, stretch out under shady palms or on the lush grass. The foreshore oasis is also perfect for parents looking to relax and still be able to watch their little ones play safely in the shallows.
Eat your body weight in food
Cairns is strategically positioned between two regions famous for their local produce. First you have The Atherton Tablelands, which are known for their tropical fruit orchards and cattle grazing farms, and then you have the Coral Sea on the town’s doorstep, offering up fresh seafood that travels directly from ocean to plate. There are also plenty of fresh water rivers in the area that serve up the ever-popular barramundi.
What does this translate to? A bounty of dining options serving up only the freshest local produce.
Glide amongst the rainforest treetops
If you’re looking to explore the surrounding area, then it’s well worth the journey to reach the mountain village of Kirunda, nestled away in the rainforest itself. You can reach this village known for its local markets and vibrant art community via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway as it slides above the treetops before plunging into the rainforest depths.
The cable car journey takes roughly 90 minutes and offers a unique vantage point to view this natural wonderland. You’ll also spend time at two rainforest stations, walking among giant ferns and lush palms. The journey back to Cairns is no less rewarding, as you travel on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. The train ride takes two hours and winds around rugged mountains, above vibrant rainforest and alongside roaring waterfalls.
Take a guided city tour
If you’d rather have a bit more direction when exploring, consider joining Cairns Discovery Tours on a guided journey throughout the CBD and surrounds. Your knowledgeable tour guide will take you to many of Cairns most historical and cultural landmarks, including the Cairns Museum and its immersive stories on living in the tropics. The tour will conclude with a journey to the picturesque northern beaches, including the ever-popular Palm Cove.
Needless to say, Cairns offers visitors a wealth of outdoor, historical, cultural and dining options if you know where to look.
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