Cairns is hot, hot, hot – and we’re not just talking about the weather.
Once considered little more than a convenient jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef, the unofficial capital of Tropical North Queensland has become a bucket list destination in its own right. Take a boat tour to the outer reef or Fitzroy Island, go on a day trip from Cairns to the tropical rainforest at Cape Tribulation, take a full day tour to see native wildlife, visit Mossman Gorge, marvel at mighty Barron Falls or ride the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway then jump onboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway for the return trip to Cairns. This friendly tropical tourist town is ever-changing and offers something for travellers of all ages with loads of natural wonders to explore.
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Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
Cairns is the main airport for Tropical North Queensland with domestic flights flying to and from most major Australian cities. There is a train service from Brisbane to Cairns multiple times per week and regular long distance buses which travel up and down the coast. Driving is also possible if you enjoy spending time on the road and don't mind long drives.
The areas in and around Cairns are well signed and easy to navigate. A local bus service is available although your options can be somewhat limited if you are hoping to travel further afield. Taxis and ride share options are also readily available.
Any time of year is a good time to visit Cairns. Summer is hot and humid and perfect for swimming. Spring and Autumn are cooler and the region tends to be quieter. Winter is ideal for those who don't enjoy humid temperatures and the weather is typically good. If you are visiting between October and May and swimming in the ocean, it is advisable to wear a 'stinger suit' to protect yourself from possible jellyfish stings.
Cairns tends to be a casual place so you can leave your fancy clothes at home. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are a must, even in winter. If you forget any essentials, it is easy to pick up whatever you need in the Cairns CBD.
Cairns is a laid back destination which means casual clothes or active wear are fine to wear during the day. Smart casual is the norm for restaurants including the more upmarket dining spots in town.
WiFi is readily available throughout Cairns. There can be limited or no WiFi available for a short time when you're on some sections of road in the Atherton Tablelands and other remote spots. There is no WiFi signal throughout most of Cape Tribulation.
Mobile coverage is readily available throughout Cairns. There can be limited or no mobile signal for a short time when you're on some sections of road in the Atherton Tablelands and other remote spots. There is no mobile signal throughout most of Cape Tribulation.
It is possible to swim at Cairns’ attractive northern beaches such as Palm Cove, Trinity Beach and Kewarra Beach, but don't go swimming in the ocean around the CBD at any time of year. There is plenty of mud when the tide goes out along with the occasional croc. Instead, head for the large man-made Esplanade Lagoon which is safe and free to use.
If you don't want to travel too far or are visiting with young children, day trips to Fitzroy Island or Green Island are a good option. Full and half day tours to the outer reef depart daily from downtown Cairns, including a First Nations tour with Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel. Overnight liveaboard trips are also available depending on demand.
It turns out that Cairns isn't just full of natural beauty with plenty of events and festivals also providing you with plenty of entertainment to take your tropical holiday to another level. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair
- Cairns Ecofiesta
- Understory Film Festival
- Cairns Children's Festival
- Cairns Marathon
- Cairns Festival
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. Some of the hiking trails in Tropical North Queensland can make walking difficult for travellers who are less mobile on foot. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.