Planning Your Next Vacation to Cairns

Planning Your Next Vacation to Cairns

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Australia has long been a tourist destination of choice for individuals across the globe. One of the continent’s best kept secrets is about to be let out of the proverbial bag, as many are discovering the rich cultural history and adventures awaiting them in Cairns. Aside from the diverse attractions and distractions, this city in north Queensland offers a variety of amenities, including restaurants and lodging, at a wide variety of price points.

You have looked up your flights to Cairns, as well as booked your appropriate accommodations. Now, here are a handful of sights waiting for you in Cairns and how to plan a successful (and memorable) trip, no matter what your budget.

The Great Barrier Reef

Ask almost any tourist planning their next holiday to Australia and aside from the fabled Sydney Opera House, many will state their main reason for traveling to the continent is the Great Barrier Reef. The reef itself is the largest of its kind in the world, composed of over 900 islands that stretch an amazing 26,000 kilometers and features around 30 species of whale, dolphins and porpoise. Your biggest dilemma will be which boat and tour group to choose, what time of the day to depart to the reef and most importantly, how to take in the flora and fauna while remaining composed. Your best bet is to choose a tour based on reputation, not price. Also, be sure to visit the reef during the early morning before the sun and heat become too oppressive and most importantly:  snap as many photos as humanly possible during your visit.

Skyrail

Put aside your fear of heights, hold on tight and get ready to experience Australia’s tropical rainforest in an extremely unique fashion. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway was recently voted one of Australia’s best tourist attractions and allows you to take in a bird’s eye view of the continent’s expansive and lush rainforest. The 7.5 kilometer ride will take you around five hours in total to complete, which includes two highly informative mid-station stops. You have a choice of departing from two stations, Caravonica and Kuranda. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals about their preference; then get prepared for the most unique and high-flying gondola ride of your life.

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

A short distance from the Kuranda Skyrail terminal is the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, which is one of the country’s most unique experiences, and provides an entertaining way for your children to learn about the indigenous people of Australia. Before paying admission, be aware that this isn’t your grandmother’s historical exploration of the Aboriginal people and the entire walk through the cultural village lasts anywhere from two to three hours. You begin the journey in the Creation Threatre, which uses modern technology to explain Tjapukai people’s spiritual beliefs concerning the world’s creation. For a real treat, hold off visiting the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park until after the sun goes down in order to witness, and possibly participate in, the Serpent Circle, a traditional Tjapuaki dance involving fire, water and tap sticks.

Flecker Botanic Gardens

Created in 1886, the Flecker Botanic Gardens features some of Australia’s rarest flora, many of which you’ve probably never imagined existed. While touring the grounds, keep a watchful eye out for the carnivorous Nepenthes plant, which features a large pitcher-like trap filled with nectar. Unsuspecting insects are lured into the Nepenthes’ trap by the sweet substance and quickly devoured. You can choose to explore the massive botanic gardens yourself or participate in the guided tours held every Tuesday and Thursday.

Planning Your Next Holiday in Cairns

This once uncharted and sleepy section of Queensland is now a lively and often times overwhelmingly busy tourist destination. This is due in part to the two World Heritage-listed sights found in the area, the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest, and the other attractions mentioned above. Here are a few helpful tips to help you save as much money as possible on your next journey to Cairns:

  • Ditch the rental car and travel throughout downtown Cairns by foot. The city itself isn’t very large and very pedestrian-friendly.
  • Do your homework and find lodging that fits your budget. Cairns features a variety of hotels and resorts at several price points.
  • Cairns features a tropical climate all year round, but if you’re sensitive to the heat, consider visiting during the milder and less-humid winter.

If you’re looking for an Australian beach getaway, Cairns might not be the best destination for you. There are rivers and streams found throughout the area and locations to its north and south, but these are often heavily populated by aggressive crocodile and should be completely avoided.

This article was written by Lauren Alexander. Lauren works as a travel writer as well as a photographer. In the past, she was a freelance journalist. She’s ventured extensively over Australia, as well as five other continents and is waiting to visit the South Pole.