Originally founded in 1876 as a service port for the North Queensland goldfields, Cairns is today the international gateway to North Queensland. With a population of 100,000, the Cairns region offers a healthy, relaxed lifestyle with the local economy based on tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, mining and fishing industries. The Cairns International Airport provides a first point of entry for both Australian and International travellers.
Cairns is surrounded to the north, west and south by magnificent rainforests, many of which are protected by World Heritage listings. To the east is Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. The wealth of natural beauty in the Cairns region provides the perfect setting for a huge range of activities including swimming, snorkelling, diving, sailing, jet-skiing, white water rafting, bushwalking, fishing, hot air ballooning or simply enjoying the fantastic scenery on a drive out of town to Mossman Gorge, Port Douglas, Kuranda or the Nandroya Falls.
The Esplanade in the centre of Cairns, is where restaurants, cafes, markets, nightclubs, pubs and shopping arcades are located, and is also the departure point for most reef tours and island cruises. Accommodation is plentiful in Cairns, with the Esplanade and surrounding areas offering quality accommodation ranging from luxury apartments and five star hotels to caravan parks and camping areas.
Set in a lush tropical environment, the water-based activities available in Cairns are endless. Whether sailing the beautiful waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the islands, canoeing or jet-skiing on the bays and lakes, taking a casual cruise or a dynamic jet boat ride, there are adventure tours available for every taste. If fishing is your passion, Cairns is a brilliant destination at any time of the year. Offering excellent angling opportunities for all areas of fishing. Cairns is famous for its Black Marlin fishing and hosts fishing tournaments September to December. Barramundi and Mangrove Jack abound at Trinity Inlet, while freshwater fishing is available further inland on the Atherton Tablelands at Tinaroo Dam. Further afield, the Gulf Savannah and Cape York offer anglers an almost limitless variety of spectacular locations in which to enjoy the fishing experience of a lifetime.
The Rainforests of the Cairns region are another major attraction that simply should not be missed. Home to an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and national parks, the rainforests are magical environments containing 200 year old palms where everything seems larger, more colourful and healthier including trees, leaves and seed pods. The rainforests were World heritage listed in 1988 and cover almost one million hectares of lush tropical vegetation. The tropical wet season from January to March is a special time of regeneration and restoration in the rainforest. The rainforests have excellent bushwalking and 4WD tracks, and 4WD Nature Safaris are available. As most rainforest animals are nocturnal, a night excursion can provide the opportunity to view a rich variety of animal life including green tree frogs, pythons, tree climbing kangaroos, geckos and rare possums.
The Great Barrier Reef is located off the Cairns coast to the east in the Coral Sea, and consists of 344,000 square kilometres of warm, clear waters in which an amazing array of sea life abounds, from sea slugs to migrating whales to coral. The many wonders of the Great Barrier Reef can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, including snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, or a plane or helicopter flight.
The Great Barrier Reef includes many magnificent locations for day tours and longer expeditions, including the Hinchinbrook Channel, Mission Beach, Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and Cooktown, and Green and Fitzroy Islands. Green Island is a tropical island paradise perfect for a day trip from Cairns where you can enjoy activities such as windsurfing, rainforest walks and snorkelling. The best reefs for snorkelling and diving are Arlington, Elford, Agincourt, Oyster, Michaelmas and Upolu Reefs.