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Still remembered by many as a sleepy little sugar town, Cairns, 1,120 miles north of Brisbane, is blooming and booming into a tourism titan. It's no wonder, as it's a gateway to Far North Queensland and the only place on earth where two World Heritage-listed sites -- the Wet Tropics Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef -- lie side by side. Explore the reef and offshore islands and be humbled by the lush forest, home to half of Australia's animal and plant species. Slip into the distinctive pace, heat and style of tropical Cairns.
Things to Do
Cairns Esplanade offers top-to-bottom-dollar shopping, but its sparkling jewel is the seaside Lagoon. Cool off from the heat at weekend concerts at this manmade pool and park. Fascinating Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park spotlights the indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Kuranda Scenic Railway winds up and along forested hillside tracks carved out by early settlers. Make the return trip on the 4.6-mile Skyrail Rainforest Cableway offering unbeatable ocean views as it glides above the steamy rainforest canopy.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Opt for a thirst-slaking drink while gazing out to sea along the Esplanade, or join a mixed crowd at the Courthouse Hotel, Cairns's most historic pub. Gilligan's Hotel, hosting up to 400 keen revelers, and Shenanigans are the hubs of a lively backpacker scene, with DJs and live music at weekends. Fancy that superyacht? Take your chances at the Reef Casino. Smart-casual is tropical Cairns' dress code, but many places strictly prohibit men who wear flip-flops and sleeveless shirts.
Restaurants and Dining
Cairns offers an unusually wide range of foreign cuisines for a city its size. Spice up weekends with inexpensive Asian food at Rusty's Markets. Besides its array of food halls, the Esplanade tempts with traditional Aussie surf 'n' turf and seafood fusion fare. Nearby Palm Cove offers fine dining by a pristine palm-fringed beach; treat yourself to dishes like wok-fried Queensland mud crab with chilli and tamarind caramel at award-winning Nu Nu.
The young -- and young at heart -- come to Cairns for bungee jumping and white-water rafting. However, because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, diving, snorkeling and sailing are definitely the big fish here. Diving and dive courses cater to beginners and up, and are carefully regulated to protect the reef and humans alike. Or cruise out on a catamaran to designated snorkeling sites to find your very own Nemo.
Find flights to Cairns, Australia, with American Airlines and explore the beauty of Far North Queensland. From discovering the Great Barrier Reef to hiking a rainforest, you'll find a wide variety of captivating things to do in Cairns.
One of the most well-known and greatly anticipated activities in Cairns is exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is the perfect home base for discovering the Reef, which is the world's largest single structure created by living organisms -- it can even be seen from space. You can dive or snorkel to see its incredible colors and marine life. The Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise From Cairns, which takes a total of just over eight hours, affords you five hours in the water at two outer locations. If you want to see it from high above, try the Great Barrier Reef 30-Minute Scenic Helicopter Tour From Cairns. There are also glass-bottom boat tours that let you see it without getting your feet wet. The Great Barrier Reef is the ultimate attraction in Cairns, and one not to be missed.
Once you've seen the Great Barrier Reef, there are still many things to do in Cairns that showcase nature at its finest. North of the city you'll find the Daintree National Park, which features a lush rainforest. The Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary Day Tour is a wonderful way to see all three sites. It includes stops at Port Douglas and the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary, home to native species such as kangaroos, koalas and wallabies. You'll also cross the Daintree River by cable ferry to explore the Cape Tribulation section of Daintree National Park during a guided rainforest walk. And you'll take a Daintree River cruise to spot crocodiles and more wildlife.
Another of the top activities in Cairns is learning about Australia's indigenous cultures. At the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Center, north of Cairns, you can experience traditional dance, art, music and storytelling.
This Australia destination is full of nature's wonders. Browse our flights today and start making your plans to fly to Cairns to experience it all during the trip of a lifetime!
|Cairns Ukulele Festival||Jul 2013 (annual)||Cairns|
|Cairns Show||Jul 2013 (annual)||Cairns Showgrounds|
|Festival Cairns||Aug - Sep 2013 (annual)||Esplanade|
|The Cairns Street Buskers Festival||Sep 2013 (annual)||Cairns Esplanade|
|Crocodile Trophy||Oct 2013 (annual)||Cairns Esplanade|
|Cairns Blues Festival||May 2014 (annual)||Cairns Esplanade|
|Cairns Home Show and Caravan, Camping and Boating Expo||Jun 2014 (annual)||Cairns Showgrounds|
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