One of Australia’s busiest cruise ports, Cairns may be best known for its close access to the Daintree tropical rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Once the site of mangrove swamps and sand ridges, the city today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia, offering a plethora of water and adventure activities.
How to Get to Cairns
The brand new cruise terminal at Trinity Wharf is located in the heart of the city, so you won’t have far to go to reach the center of Cairns. Larger cruise ships may have to anchor in the harbor, in which case tenders will carry you from the ship to the port.
One Day in Cairns
If you’re like many visitors with just a day to spend in Cairns, chances are you’ll choose to forgo the city itself and instead book an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef. Over 1,600 miles long and composed of nearly 3,000 individual reefs, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. Swimming, snorkeling, diving or riding on a glass bottom boat are all possibilities to explore the incredible biodiversity of what has been called one of the seven great natural wonders of the world.
For those who choose not to visit the Reef, taking the Skyline Rainforest Cableway to the town of Kuranda is another great way to spend a day. In Kuranda, you’ll find a variety of arts and craft shops, as well as the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary. After taking a cable car to Kuranda, you can return to Cairns by bus.
Back in the city, head to the Cairns Esplanade to stroll along the Harbour Walk, explore the handicrafts market and enjoy live entertainment and public art displays. Art aficionados may also want to pay a visit to the Cairns Regional Art Gallery, featuring fine art from a variety of Australian artists, including Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
Another option for those who want to see more of the tropical rainforest would be to take a day-long guided tour to the Daintree Rainforest, about two hours north of Cairns.
The official language is English and the local currency is the Australian dollar. ATMs are widely available and are the best way to obtain local currency. Most shops and restaurants will also accept credit cards.