Cairns, Australia

What is there to do in Cairns?

Top Waterfalls/Swimming holes to Visit!

Top Beaches to Visit!

Does Australia require a visa(ETA)?

YES! You WILL NEED to obtain a visa for entry in Australia. You can get a short stay visa online at Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). An ETA is for short term stays for tourism or business visitor activities. After your ETA is granted you are able to enter and leave Australia as many times as you need to during a 12 month period, from the date the ETA is granted or until the expiry date of your passport, whichever is earlier.

When entering Australia, all we had to do was give the teller our passports, since the visas are an electronic visa. An application cost $20AUD per person. To apply on the Australian Government website click the link.

Anyone who arrives in Australia without a valid travel document, visa or authority can be refused entry to or delayed until their identity and claims to enter Australia have been confirmed.

Where to stay in Cairns?

CBD

Is the center city in Cairns where you'll find a strip of restaurants, the Esplanade, and tons of shopping. Here you'll find a mix of hostels, budget hotels, and high-end hotels! Everything you can be found in CBD within walking distance and won't need to rent a car. The Cairns Reef Fleet is also located in the area which makes its an easy getaway for scuba diving and activities to the Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroys Island, and/or Greens Island.

Port Douglas

Is more of a residential area and further out of the city. Its a great area for families or if you just want a quiet beach getaway. Port Douglas offers a boardwalk full of dining and shopping options. If you're not staying close to the boardwalk, you're going to want to hire a car to get around. Hotels can also get a little pricy in this area as well.

Palm Cove

Palm Cove is also a residential and locals favorite beach/town! It's about 30 minutes from CBD but close enough. If your a surfer, then you might want to have a stay here. You'll be able to find some budget hotels in this area. Palm Cove Beach also offers a playground, dining, and shopping close by. If you do stay in this location you might want to consider hiring a car to get around.

How to get to your destination from the airport?

Rideshares(UBER) is about 12-25AUD ($8-17)USD, which is one of the cheapest options. Port Douglas will cost AUS$83-111($60-75USD). The duration is 65 minutes.

New with Uber? Sign up and use my code for a discount(link): jessica43008ui

FAMILY TRAVEL TIP: Australia has very strict laws about a child not having a car seat for kids under 7. If you don't have a car seat for your child(ren), Uber can refuse your ride. An Uber driver can lose their licenses if caught, so you'll have to pay the extra few dollars to take a local taxi!

Backpacker Shuttle Cairns- Is a shared transportation service and is $6 AUD.The duration is 45 minute.Check with your hostel, many outside the city center offer free shuttle service in town at regular intervals.

Taxi- from the airport to CBD is about $25-30AUD($17-20USD) one way. To Port Douglas, which is 65 minutes north of the airport can cost you about AUS$145-190($99-130USD)

Cairns Airport Shuttle- Is about AUS$15-20 ($10-13USD) per person one way. The duration is 20 minutes.

Rent A Car- In Cairns you'll be able to rent a car for as low at $35 AUD($23 USD). If your staying in the CBD, renting a car isn't needed since everything is in walking distance. If you choose to travel to the Northern beach like Palm Cove or Port Douglas, then a car may come in your favor, but you'll still be able to reach these beaches by bus.

TRAVEL TIP- Beware, when renting a car in Australia you drive on the left side of the road. The driving seat is also on the opposite side.

How to get around Cairns?

Cairns is fairly easy to get around because it's flat and everything in the city is fairly close together. If you want to explore out of CBD, here are your options.

Bicycle – Cairns has an excellent network of cycling paths and circuits, with some of the most popular routes being the Esplanade, Centenary Lakes, and the Botanic Gardens. Rentals start from $15 AUD ($11 USD) per day.

Taxis – A taxi around the city is about $20-27 AUD ($14-19 USD), but taxis can be expensive and I would avoid them.

Rideshares(UBER) is about 9-25AUD ($6-17)USD, which is one of the cheapest options.

New with Uber? Sign up and use my code for a discount(link): jessica43008ui

FAMILY TRAVEL TIP: Australia has very strict laws about a child not having a car seat for kids under 7. If you don't have a car seat for your child(ren), Uber can refuse your ride. An Uber driver can lose their licenses if caught, so you'll have to pay the extra few dollars to take a local taxi!

On foot- it's cheaper and FREE! Most times its actually quicker to get around CBD by walking.

Rent A Car- In Cairns you'll be able to rent a car for as low at $35 AUD($23 USD). If your staying in the CBD, renting a car isn't needed since everything is in walking distance. If you choose travel to the Northern beach like Palm Cove or Port Douglas, then a car may come in your favor, but you'll still be able to reach these beaches by bus.

TRAVEL TIP- Beware, when renting a car in Australia you drive on the left side of the road. The driving seat is also on the opposite side.

Bus – Cairns has a good public bus system run by Translink (formerly Sunbus) that will take you just about anywhere you need to go. A single ticket fare for one zone is $4.80 AUD ($3.45 USD), and the prices increase per number of zones you travel (it’s $5.80 AUD/$4.17 USD for two zones).If you are taking the bus, purchase a Go Card. It's an electronic pre-paid ticket that automatically calculates the cheapest fare for your journey. You'll also be able to turn in your card before leaving the city and be refunded any unused credit as well as your deposit.

When to travel to Cairns?

Cairns is a destination to visit all year round. Even in the winter months(July-August),Cairns can reach up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. August is festival time and there is a ton of entertainment, performers, and shows to see. The Great Barrier Reef is always open all year round to take a plunge, so don't let the "winter" in Cairns stop you from visiting!

If you chose to visit any other month, October to June is considered the dries months!

We traveled to Cairns in August and the weather was pleasant. We also found visiting this time of year was more budget-friendly!

Where to eat in Cairns?

The options are endless in Cairns. You’ll find plenty of dining and take away food within walking distance in Center City.

What language is spoken in Cairns?

English

Currency?

Australian dollar

Things you should know when traveling to Cairns?

  • Always swim between the flags on Cairns beaches and swim within the stinger nets during October-May. Jelly Box Fish are the most poisonous and deadly jellyfish in the world. The venom can kill in minutes and is the cause of an average 1 death per year in Australian waters.

  • North Queensland is crocodile country so avoid swimming in estuaries.

  • Work for your room – Many hostels offer travelers the chance to work for their accommodation. In exchange for a few hours a day of cleaning, you get a free bed. Commitments vary but most hostels ask you to stay for at least a week.

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world measuring 2011km(1,249 miles) in length and 72km(44 miles) across at its widest point making.

  • Cairns is renowned as the gateway to two of the world's greatest natural attractions: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.

  • If your coming from the states. Australia has opposite seasons.

  • Australia is huge!!! You may think you can hope on a quick flight from one side of the country to the other, but the reality that a flight from Brisbane to Perth will take over a five hour flight! From Cairns to Sydney its a 3 hour flight.

  • Aussies don’t have pennies

  • Australians today show great respect towards the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; after all, they are the traditional owners of the land you are living or stepping on. These respects are also paid verbally before certain ceremonies, meetings and events.

  • Call 000 in an emergency

  • Aussies don’t tip! The minimum working wage is a lot higher, meaning tipping isn’t necessary. All service charges are included in the bill!

Is Cairns kid-friendly? Things to do with kids?

Cairns is one of the most kid-friendly destinations we traveled too. Cairns offers activities for all ages and it doesn't even have to cost you a dime! All year rounds you'll find that they offer many free events for families on the Esplanade.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” ― Bill Keane

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