Cairns is a city far north in Queensland and is probably best known for being a gateway to the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef. I spent the longest amount of time in Cairns whilst in Australia and discovered a lot about the place whilst there so thought I’d share a bit about my experience and thoughts of the place.
Firstly, accommodation! I stayed in probably the most popular party hostel that any backpacker you ask who has been to Aus will know, called Gilligans. Oh Gilligans, what a place haha it’s literally 24 hours of partying. I swear the floors are always sticky and it stinks of alcohol but in a way it’s extremely homely. It’s obviously quite a loud environment so if you can’t sleep easily then maybe give this place a miss but tbh I think everyone in Cairns should give it a go. You can get away with being fairly noisy at 3am because your room mates just expect it. It has a club downstairs so it’s easy to stumble your way back to your room and it has fab music.
I think one thing I learnt about Cairns is that the nightlife is banging but in the day time there’s little to do in the actual centre of the town. Most of Cairns’ appeal is the excursions that surround it and although the town isn’t awful, I found that 5 days there was too much.
As mentioned above, the Great Barrier Reef is just a stone throw away from Cairns as well as many other sights such as the Cape Tribulations, AJ Hackett bungee jump site and the Atherton Tablelands which are amazing. I actually did the Tablelands instead of the Cape Tribulations but have heard great things about the Cape Tribulations as well! The Tablelands was a lot cheaper and we visited so many beautiful waterfalls!
Although Cairns is on the coast, you are not actually allowed to swim in the sea so fortunately they do have a man made lagoon which is great but that was the main place to hang in the town so it got a little repetitive.
Sadly there’s not really much to do that’s within walking distance- all the great sights that I listed above are a drive away and once we had already done them we wanted to stay a bit closer to the town. Eventually Leigh and I discovered there was a botanic garden a short bus ride away so explored that on our last day which was something a bit different and easy to get to if you’re looking to explore!
Food wise we had a lot of delicious food whilst in Cairns. For amazing breakfast smoothie bowls and avocado toast, definitely take a trip to Pantry 15 which is conveniently only across the road from Gilligans.
For lunch we would often go to the huge Woolworths on the way to the lagoon to get some picnic bits. They do the best selection of humus! For dinner, there is a market directly opposite the lagoon which has a selection of cheap takeaway food such as Chinese, fish & chips, sushi and kebabs.
If you’re looking for something a bit nicer then defo head to Fetta’s Greek Taverna, again just a short walk from Gilligans. I still dream about the Lamb Yiro I had. It was so delicious and affordable and they do takeaway so it’s a great option. There is also a Grill’d along from the food markets opposite the lagoon which is an easy option.
Lastly Cairns is a great place to either start or end your East Coast journey in Australia because the airport is only a 15 minute drive away. From here I flew to Singapore for a 4 day adventure (more on that soon) and it was so easy because it’s not a big airport. On the day I flew the only commercial flight of that day was my one which just shows how quiet it is.
I think Cairns is one of the only places on the tour that I wouldn’t go back to just because although parts are lovely, parts of it I wasn’t that keen on and I feel like I’ve fully seen it now! I do slightly miss Gilligans in an odd way though ahah.