Sights and experiences
Here are a few sightseeing suggestions and dining recommendations you may wish to consider during your stay in Cairns.
The Great Barrier Reef included excursion
No trip to Cairns would be complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s greatest marine natural wonder, and with a Distant Journeys tour, you’ll get a full day to explore this vast body of water. Colourful coral and frolicking fish will greet you as you explore the reef, whether you decide to view it from a glass-bottomed boat, from way up high in a helicopter or up close and personal with a scuba diving or snorkelling experience. A visit to the Great Barrier Reef is truly the experience of a lifetime, offering up an unforgettable marine safari like no other.
The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest of its kind in the world, and offers a slice of tropical northern Queensland in its most natural surroundings. A short distance from Cairns, a visit to the Daintree Rainforest is an optional excursion offered by Distant Journeys, allowing you to witness an environment like no other, welcoming you with unique and intriguing flora and fauna. For those wanting to learn even more about the area, you can take part in a guided walk with a native Aboriginal guide, as well as enjoy a cruise spotting some of the rainforest’s largest predators, saltwater crocodiles.
Also not far from the boundaries of Cairns is the traditional, picturesque town of Kuranda, known as ‘the village in the rainforest’. Contained within the town are its famous markets, bustling with homemade and locally produced crafts and gifts, as well as the Koala Gardens, a true sanctuary for wildlife in the heart of their natural habitats. Kuranda is the home of the Tjapukai people, and so it is the perfect place to immerse yourself in this sub-section of native culture – you can get involved in music, dance or storytelling. A visit to Kuranda is offered as an optional extra with Distant Journeys, and will also include a return journey on the famous Skyrail rainforest cableway, taking you past breathtaking views of the rainforest canopy from above.
If you’re looking to explore the town of Cairns itself, make sure to visit the Esplanade, which faces the city’s stunning foreshore. Many citizens flock to the vast saltwater swimming lagoon on a summer’s day for a relaxing swim, though it is also worth visiting at night, when it illuminates and lights up the Esplanade. The Esplanade’s boardwalk promenade stretches for over 3km, perfect for a short, relaxing stroll, taking you past some spectacular coastal views, as well as lively restaurants, cafes and bars. There’s always something going on at the Esplanade, too, from markets to festivals to free fitness classes, so if you’re seeking a way to pass the time, this is the place to head to.
Wining and dining
Serving up modern Australian cuisine, this multi-award winning establishment is a hit with both locals and tourists alike. Gourmet dishes are created from the unlikeliest sources for a dining experience like no other. The choice of meats is diverse and unusual, and includes various game meats and seafood alongside crocodile meat, complemented by native Australian bush foods such as berries and acacia seeds to create meals that are unequivocally modern yet have solid traditional foundations.
Found within The Hotel Cairns, the multi-award winning Plantation Restaurant boasts ‘a tropical feast for all the senses’, embracing the area’s tropical rainforest surroundings and heritage. Set to a relaxed background of palm trees, terracotta tiles and wicker chairs, Plantation serves up modern Australian cuisine, making the most of the region’s special delicacies and local produce to produce simple yet fully satisfying dishes.
Open for both lunch and dinner, the Mondo Café is found at the heart of Cairns’ pretty seafront Esplanade, based at the Hilton Cairns hotel. Its waterfront location makes it a perfect choice for a scenic, alfresco dining experience, soaking up the views of Trinity Bay. A popular and highly rated eaterie, Mondo offers up an array of international cuisine, including flavoursome curries and tantalising seafood platters which make the most of what is available locally.
Dundee’s has been a low-budget success with the locals for over twenty years, with its popularity explained by both its scenic marina location and the high quality of its food. The Australian cuisine the restaurant serves up is extremely good value, and brings together a number of fresh, exotic and exciting flavours. Diners can sample a number of Australian meats, including kangaroo, crocodile and emu, or sample more traditional dishes, such as juicy steaks and fresh seafood, which you can cook yourself over a hot rock.