Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in cairns
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Cairns's Pier Shopping Centre and promenade
Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland Australia.
Cairns is a small city that is very focused on the tourist industry, but is also surrounded by agricultural activities including sugar cane, banana and other tropical fruits. Cairns is particularly popular with international tourists, particularly the Japanese.
There is a lot of budget accommodation with plenty of drinking establishments and cheap restaurants for backpackers. The atmosphere is relatively inexpensive tourism, with t-shirt shops and lots of clubs and places to go out for young travelers. Older travelers might prefer the more sedate and upscale Port Douglas, 10-15 miles to the north.
Cairns Airport (CNS) is the primary international gateway into the region and is also served by many domestic flights.
The international airlines serving Cairns are:
The domestic airlines serving Cairns are:
- Qantas flying from Horn Island, Weipa, Gove/Nhulunbuy, Darwin, Perth, Alice Springs, Yulara (Uluru), Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
- Virgin Blue (http://www.virginblue.com.au/) (tel 13 67 89) flying from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
- Jetstar (http://www.jetstar.com.au/) (tel 13 15 38) flying from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
- MacAir (http://www.macair.com.au/) (tel Qantas) flying from regional Queensland including Townsville and Mount Isa
The hourly-or-so Airport Shuttle (http://www.australiacoach.com.au) bus into town costs $7, while a taxi will do the same trip directly to your destination for around $15.
Queensland Railways' The Queenslander and The Sunlander services connect Cairns to Townsville and Brisbane, taking 32 hours for the full journey.
The 1700-km Bruce Highway running south along the coast connects Cairns to the state capital Brisbane.
The center of Cairns is small enough to cover on foot. Hourly, Sunbus buses depart from the market square to the suburbs and Northern Beaches.
- Catch an amateur rugby game in town if you can, the locals play a mean game, and it's a great way to meet local folks.
Swimmers using the lagoon on a winter's day
Cairns is an adventure sports enthusiast's paradise: every second shop is a tourist information centre with signs blaring "dive dive dive" or "tandem skydiving". Its location close to the ocean, the mountains and the rainforest gives travellers lots of choices of activity.
Standby rates are ubiquitous: many of the more expensive activities, including scuba diving and skydiving, are up to $150 cheaper if you are prepared to go on standby for a cancelation.
- Swim in the artificial lagoon on the promenade near the pier. The lagoon is unfenced and free. Its shallow water (max depth 1.5m) makes it popular with children and families. The lagoon is a good place to cool off especially during "stinger season" between October and May (cf. Australia#Poisonous_and_dangerous_creatures) when local beaches should be avoided.
- Sunbake or people watch on the grassy part of the promenade near the lagoon. On a sunny day, even in the middle of Cairns's tropical "winter", there will sometimes be more sunbakers than there is visible grass.
- Have a barbecue on the promenade. Cairns has free barbecues scattered generously among the picnic tables on the grass.
Diving and snorkelling
A number of Cairns operators run day and liveaboard scuba diving trips from Cairns. For seeing the Great Barrier Reef, the smaller dive boats provide the best experience, both for diving and for snorkeling.The larger operations have more amenities--better food, larger and faster boats, more activities, but sometimes provide a poorer underwater experience, as the underwater areas that the larger boats visit are heavily overused, and somewhat barren of coral and fishes. Your mileage may vary.
- Tusa Dive Australia 1 (http://www.tusadive.com/), cnr Shield Street and the Esplanade. tel 07 4031 1028. fax 07 4031 3141. email email@example.com. Tusa Dive Australia are a particularly good small operator. Tusa Dive offer 2 dive day trips to the Outer Reef for $160 ($190 with equipment hire).
- Pro Dive Cairns, 2 (http://www.prodivecairns.com/), 116 Spence Street. tel 07 4031 5255. fax 07 4051 9955. email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pro Dive Cairns specialises in 11 dive/3 day/2 night liveaboard trips to the Outer Reef, departing every day except Tuesdays. Their dive sites are suitable for inexperienced divers: most trips will include one or more groups of students doing their checkout dives. The liveaboard trip is $560 for a twin share or double cabin (including equipment and reef tax). Pro Dive Cairns also offer several PADI (http://www.padi.com/) courses which include the liveaboard trip: the basic Open Water course (2 days of classroom and pool work plus the trip, $695), Open Water referral checkout dives ($595), Advanced Open Water ($685) and Rescue Diver ($850).
- Taka Dive Adventures 3 (http://www.takadive.com.au/), 131 Lake Street. tel 07 4051 8722. fax 07 4031 2739. email email@example.com. Taka Dive offer two liveaboard trips: a 5 day/4 night tour of Cod Hole and the Coral Sea (from $1050 for a 4 share cabin and $1175 for a twin cabin) and a 4 day/3 night tour of Cod Hole and the northern part of the reef (from $900 for a 4 share cabin and $1000 for a twin cabin). The two trips can be combined into one from $1850 (4 share cabin).
If you are sick of the sea, head up in the air.
- Skydive Cairns 4 (http://www.skydivecairns.com.au/), 59 Sheridan Street. tel 1800 330 044 (free call in Australia) or 07 4031 5466. fax 07 4031 5505. email firstname.lastname@example.org. Skydive Cairns offers tandem single jumps and AFF courses. One of the most beautiful plane rides up to 13,000 feet overlooking the reef just long enough before you loose your lunch on the way down.
- Tandem Cairns 5 (http://www.tandemcairns.com.au/), Shop 10, 93 The Esplanade (entrance on Aplin Street). tel 1800 805 432 (free call in Australia). email email@example.com. Tandem Cairns offers tandem skydives for $270.
Always wanted to try ballooning - the Cairns region has some of the best weather for ballooning in the World and so trips go year around and are rarely cancelled. It's also one to the cheapest places to go flying you'll find anywhere. The trips go inland to the Atherton Tablelands and take off at first light at Mareeba, finishing around 10am and can connect directly to a Great Barrier Reef tour or drop you in Kuranda. Ballooning with Hot Air 1800 800 829 6 (http://www.hotair.com.au) include a hot breakfast, champagne & transfers for AU$175. Champagne Balloon Flights 7 (http://www.champagneballoons.com) have a slightly cheaper trip but don't offer breakfast 07 40392400
- Night Markets 8 (http://www.nightmarkets.com.au/), 71-75 The Esplanade. ph 07 4051 7666. The night markets operate every night of the week till late. They are a collection of stalls catering mainly to tourists: you can buy lots of clothes, games and Australiana.
As with much of Cairns, you can divide the city into the Esplanade and the places within a block of it, and the rest of the city. The Esplanade is littered with bar and grill places supplying red meat and beer all in the one place, and with seafood restaurants. It's relatively difficult to find anything open before 11am, since they expect the clientele to be sleeping in. The rest of the city has small cafes and milkbars catering to locals. The number of Japanese tourists here makes Japanese food a fairly reliably option, although prices can be steep.
A number of the more expensive restaurants on the Esplanade, particularly towards the north end, offer discounts of 20-30% for early birds: usually you will need to order by 6:30pm and pay and leave no later than 7:30pm to get a discounted meal.
- La Pizza Trattoria, 93 The Esplanade. tel 07 4031 2646. La Pizza Trattoria has good pizza. It lures most patrons in by letting them wander past the pizza chef kneading the dough as they smell the baking pizzas. Medium sized pizzas $17. Open 7 Days 7am until late.
- Villa Romana Trattoria 9 (http://www.villaromana.com.au/), Aplin Street (cnr The Esplanade). tel 07 4051 9000. fax 07 4031 5557. Large Italian meals with some good seafood options and overworked wait staff. 30% discount if you order before 6:45pm. Meals are $20-$30.
- Hide's Coffee Cafe, Shop 7, 87 Lake Street. tel 07 4041 1899. Hides Coffee Cafe, a couple of streets back from the Esplanade, is a good place for a relative cheap (under $10) breakfast or lunch. Order at the counter and remember to keep an eye on the collapsing umbrellas at the outside tables.
- Sushi Express, Shop 28 Orchid Plaza, 79 Abbott Street. tel 07 4041 4388. fax 07 4052 1277. A sushi train made up to look like the Kuranda Railway, this place is popular but not wildly busy. The tempura seems to get more attention than the sushi or sashimi. Plates from $2.50 to $4.50.
- Perrotta's At The Gallery, 38 Abbott Street. tel 07 4031 5899. If you want to escape from several evenings touring the bar and grill places, Perotta's is just off the Esplanade and does more sophisticated Western food. Try the French toast with roast pear for breakfast. Breakfast, lunch and dinner approximately $20.
- The Woolshed Chargrill & Saloon Bar 10 (http://www.thewoolshed.com.au/) , 24 Shields Street. tel 07 4031 6304. fax 07 4041 2283. If you are looking for a place to find all the travelers, go to the Wool Shed in downtown Cairns. Legend has it that if you can't pull here, you won't anywhere in Oz.
- Rattle 'N Hum, 67 The Esplanade. tel 07 4031 3011. The Rattle 'n Hum is a bar and grill in the midst of one of the busiest parts of The Esplanade. It's quite large and getting a seat is seldom a problem: sit out the back whether they light torches in the evenings. Competition for the pool table is not formidable so you should be able to get several games in. They do a number of main meals, including wood-fired pizza (approximately $20). The staff are highly variable in quality, ordering a cocktail is quite a risk but they're certainly able to pull a beer.
Cairns is the backpacker capital of Northern Queensland and there are over 20 hostels, all offering basic bunks in the $14-18 range.
- Asylum Cairns (http://www.cairns.net.au/~cairnsbackpackers/), 149 Grafton Street. Tel.: 07 4031 1474 or toll free: 1800 065 464 (for bookings only). Fax: 07 4031 8499. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com). Bed in small dorm (no bunk beds) $18 for one night or $15 per night if staying two nights or more (prices on website are out of date). Free transfers to and from airport, bus- or trainstation if staying two nights or more. Free internet. Not particularly clean or well maintained. Very friendly and helpful staff. Not in city centre, but within easy walking distance.
- Cairns Central YHA Backpackers Hostel (http://www.yha.com.au/hostels/details.cfm?hostelid=42), 20-26 McLeod Street. Tel.: 07 4051 0772. Fax: 07 4031 3158. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com). Bunk beds in shared rooms $23-$25 per night, double and twin rooms from $54 per night.
- Cairns Esplanade (http://www.yha.com.au/hostels/details.cfm?hostelid=43), 93 The Esplanade. Tel.: 07 4031 1919. Fax: 07 4031 4381. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com). Bunk beds in shared rooms $20 per night, double and twin rooms from $46 per night.
- The Bellview (http://www.bellviewcairns.com.au/), 85-87 The Esplanade. Tel.: 07 4031 4377. Fax: 07 4031 2850. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com). Dormitory rooms from $20 per bed per night, budget single rooms from $35 per night, budget double rooms from $47 per night.
- Queen's Court (http://www.queenscourt.com.au/), 167-171 Sheridan Street. Tel: 07 4051 7722. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com). Budget rooms from $69 per night, motel-style twin rooms from $103 per night. Family suites available.
- Holiday Inn Cairns (http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/hi/1/en/hd/caias), 21-123 The Esplanade & Florence Street. Tel: 07 4050 6070. Fax: 07 4031 3770. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com). Double rooms approximately $150 per night.
- The Reef Hotel (http://www.reefcasino.com.au/), 35-41 Wharf Street. Tel: 07 4030 8888. Fax: 07 4030 8777. The Reef Hotel Casino is among the best hotels in the city, located in the same building as the Reef Casino and with views over Trinity Bay. Room rates start at $220.
- Hilton Cairns (http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/hotels/index.jhtml?ctyhocn=CRNHITW), 34 The Esplanade. Tel: 07 4050 2000. Fax: 07 4050 2001. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com).
- Shangri-La Hotel (http://www.shangri-la.com/cairns/shangri-lamarina/en/index.aspx), Pierpoint Road. Tel: 07 4031 1411. Fax: 07 4031 3226. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com).