Cairns is a city in Queensland’s tropical north and is known as the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is also known for its adventure activities such as white water rafting. The city itself is pretty relaxed and there are lots of great things that you can do for free. Whether you want to cool off from the tropical heat or go exploring, there’s something for everyone.
1. Chill out at the lagoon
While Cairns doesn’t have many beaches that are actually swimmable, it does have the lagoon. The lagoon is the perfect place to relax or cool off from the tropical heat. It is a salt water facility that offers an all year safe, swimming location without the worry of stingers and crocodiles. The lagoon is on the Esplanade and located on the foreshore of the Trinity Harbour front. Chill out on its sandy shores or on the grass under a palm tree.
2. Have a Barbeque at the Esplanade
There is beautiful parkland up and down the Esplanade foreshore and there are plenty of free barbeque facilities along the strip. The facilities are cleaned each day and are ready for casual use. After a relaxing day at the lagoon, simply cook up some dinner and enjoy the views.
To see if there is a BBQ near your hotel, you can view the list of locations on the Cairns website
3. Visit the Cairns Botanical Gardens
The Cairns Botanical Gardens are beautiful and well worth the visit! They are located just 4km north of the CBD. The gardens feature an extensive selection of tropical flora including rare plants that are seldom found elsewhere in the world. Brooks and streams also run through the gardens. Centenary Lakes are located next to the gardens and the area has a long boardwalk that runs through tropical rainforest and mangroves. The area hosts an amazing selection of wildlife including fish, turtles, mud crabs and water birds. It is important not to go swimming in the lake as on the odd occasion, you just may see a crocodile. To get to the gardens you can walk from the CBD or also take public transport. For more information: http://www.cairnsattractions.com.au/explore/getting-back-to-nature/cairns-botanical-gardens-attractions.413.html
4. Go for a walk in the Rainforest
If you feel like escaping the Cairns CBD for some fresh rainforest air, then there are great walks that you can do in the Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park which is located behind the Cairns Botanical Gardens. There are a few circuits to choose from. The Red Arrow Circuit is the shortest track. It is 1.3 km and has views overlooking the city and the airport. The Blue Arrow Circuit is 5.4 km and takes 3-4 hours. It is a rugged bush track with steep climbs. It is highly recommended to take insect repellent with you during this walk.For more information: http://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/facilities-sport-leisure/sport-and-recreation/active-living/red-and-green-arrow-walking-tracks
5. Take a walk on the esplanade
The Cairns Esplanade is really nice for a leisurely stroll or a run. It provides gorgeous views of the foreshore and the tropical mountains. You can use the free fitness stations along the way or play beach volleyball!
6. Enjoy the night markets
Every night after sunset, the Cairns Night Markets come alive. The markets feature over 70 retail outlets and are home to a wide variety of food options. So if you are looking for a bargain and a delicious dinner, then this is your place. The Cairns night markets are located at 71-75 The Esplanade and are open daily from 5:00pm – 11:00pm. For more information: http://www.cairnsattractions.com.au/explore/cairns-markets/cairns-night-markets.444.html
7. Sample tropical fruit at the farmers’ markets
You can’t visit Cairns without paying a visit to the iconic Rusty’s Markets – the most successful and well-known markets in Australia and abroad. The market runs from Friday until Sunday and boasts over 180 stalls featuring exotic tropical fruits, vegetables, flowers, seafood, dairy, fresh breads, coffee, clothing, jewelry and much more! For more information: http://www.rustysmarkets.com.au