Travel guide - Cairns

With its coral reef and clear blue waters, Cairns is the sapphire of Queensland, in the northern part of Australia. The coastal city is a popular destination for underwater and land explorers alike. A tropical treasure and natural sanctuary, you will immediately fall under Cairns’ spell, whether you’re on the beach, underwater or walking beneath the tropical trees.

An underwater fairy tale

This is where you will find the world’s largest barrier reef, an emblem of the whole region. Before you stretches 2,300 kilometres of coral reef: a natural wonder where you can find an amazing diversity of nature including sea turtles, hundreds of species of sharks and 600 islands. Amidst the deep, hypnotically blue waters of the ocean, you can discover this holy land by scuba diving along the Elford Reef. It takes an hour to reach by boat from the coast of Cairns, but the richness of this place is well worth your time. Once you arrive, you can observe multicoloured fish and manta rays in a spectacular setting. It is a silent, splendid underwater world. Up above the surface, if you’re more interested in feeling the sea wind in your face, pick up your paddle and head out in a kayak from Palm Cove Beach to the coral reefs of Double Island.

Queensland: paradise on earth

You can also discover the Great Barrier Reef of Cairns in other ways. On a small island across from the city or up in the air, you have plenty of options when it comes to enjoying nature in and around Cairns. The first is probably to walk along the long, wild beaches with their dense, varied vegetation. The white sand and the crystal clear waters (cleaned by the Great Barrier Reef) give the area’s beaches an allure of heaven on earth. But among all the treasures that can be found near Cairns, Fitzroy Island is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit. Reachable by ferry, Fitzroy is a sublime setting for sunbathing: lay out your towel on the hot sand of Nudey Beach.
The natural environment of Cairns lets you fully enjoy the elements. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Palm Cove, where the beach’s exposure to the winds will tempt you to try kitesurfing.

In the Australian canopy

The other major natural attraction of Cairns is without a doubt its immense tropical forest. Rich, bountiful and verdant, the forest is home to Australia’s tropical flora and fauna. Amidst the eucalyptus trees, ferns and mangroves, you can discover this astonishing biodiversity from the Skyrail in the Kuranda Forest. For 90 minutes, you will float above the canopy and discover spectacular waterfalls like Barron Falls.
Head deeper into Daintree Forest, one of the world’s oldest forests, to admire a wild, exuberant sanctuary. Just like the majestic, multicoloured cassowary, the area’s natural diversity is reflected in the trees with gigantic roots, the native plants and the countless animal species, from crocodiles to quolls.

Australia through its food

While the natural environment of Cairns generally attracts the most attention, it would be a shame to let you believe that this small coastal city is nothing more than a destination for outdoor activities. Known around the country for its pleasant lifestyle, Cairns has a pedestrian city centre with a surprising choice of restaurants, particularly around Rusty’s Markets on Grafton Street. It is the perfect occasion for you to lose yourself amidst the colourful stands and taste some local products. Cairns, like all of Queensland, is recognised for three foods in particular: bananas, seafood and surprisingly, cheese. You won’t be lacking for inspiration as you climb Spence Street for a gourmet evening at Ochre, a gastronomic restaurant where Australians’ culinary ingenuity is on full display.

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Practical information

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9 ideas for visits and activities / 8 hotels

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