With the spectacular Great Barrier Reef to the east, luscious rainforests to the west, and wonderful dining and shopping experiences, the north Queensland city of Cairns is easily one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations.
Cairns truly has something to offer any visitor. Animal and nature lovers in particular will find no shortage of excellent activities to enjoy and sights to see. Whether you’re diving into the reef-speckled Coral Sea or dipping into the Esplanade’s swimming lagoon, an opportunity for getting wet and enjoying the sunshine is never too far away either.
With its infectiously happy atmosphere and myriad natural wonders to behold, it’s little wonder this region proves to be a favourite for many cruise passengers. Cairns is a featured stop on trips offered by some of the world’s leading cruise companies, including Coral Princess Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, and P&O Cruises.
Most cruise ships make port at Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal, which is a dedicated cruise terminal that forms part of Ports North, Cairns’s port. Some larger cruise ships will instead make anchor nearby and tender passengers into port. Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal is located only a short walk from the heart of the city.
When no cruise ships are in town, Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal is available as an event venue, which means there are basic facilities here available for disembarking guests. A café is also located directly outside the terminal, and any amenities you might need are accessible within a short walk from the port.
How to Get Around
Travelling in the city itself is easy enough on foot. For exploring further, taking a taxi and hiring a car are both options. There is also a ‘Sunbus’ service that runs frequently and can be used to travel around the city.
Travel times from Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal:
It is a 5 minute journey to Orchid Plaza Shopping Centre
It is an 8 minute journey to the Cairns Museum
It is a 10 minute journey to the Esplanade
It is a 10 minute journey to the terminals where most Great Barrier Reef cruises depart
It is a 14 minute journey to Cairns Central Shopping Centre.
It is a 7 minute journey to Cairns Central Shopping Centre
It is a 12 minute journey to Cairns Botanic Gardens
It is a 21 minute journey to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
It is a 28 minute journey to Trinity Beach
It is a 31 minute journey to Cairns Tropical Zoo
It is a 35 minute journey to Palm Cove
It is a 39 minute journey to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.
Currency – The local currency in Cairns is the Australian dollar (AUD), which is comprised of 100 cents. Notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations, while the coins in circulation are the 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, and $2 coins.
Time Zone – The clocks in Cairns are set to Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), which puts the city 10 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UCT).
Weather – The climate in Cairns is tropical. Summer can get quite hot and humid, with an average temperature of around 31 degrees Celsius, while winters are mild and dry, experiencing an average temperature of around 26 degrees Celsius. The region sees its fair share of rain, most of which falls in the first third of the year (from January to April).
The Great Barrier Reef – Observable from space, the Great Barrier Reef is a vibrant and very large ecosystem stretching for over 2,000 kilometres parallel to Australia’s north-eastern shoreline. Along with some other Queensland ports, Cairns is considered a gateway through which travellers can explore and immerse themselves into this beautiful aquatic environment. The reef is home to countless fish, turtles, dolphins, and sharks, as well as a spectacular rainbow of coral.
Esplanade Boardwalk – A lovely waterfront area with wonderful views, the Esplanade deserves a few hours of your time in Cairns. Eat at one of the fantastic restaurants, play a game of beach volleyball, jump into the saltwater swimming lagoon, or turn the kids loose in one of the excellent playgrounds, such as Muddy’s Playground.
Cairns’s Northern Beaches – Whether you choose Palm Cove or Trinity Beach, the beaches just north of Cairns provide sensational scenery for happy holiday photos, relaxing afternoon naps, or a refreshing swim in the ocean.
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary – Situated in Kuranda, approximately 39 minutes northwest of Cairns by car, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is home to over 1,500 butterflies. Visitors get the chance to walk amongst these beautiful creatures and take part in a free tour, where the butterfly’s fascinating life cycle is explored in great depth.