Cairns: The Tropical Port

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One of the final stops of traveling up the east coast with OZ Experience, Cairns, is not only a small, and vibrant town, it also exudes the featherings of tropical paradise throughout its narrow concrete streets and roundabouts. The juxtaposition between the two was amazing. With rainforests and volcanoes, and the pacific sea locking this town in, Cairns holds some of the most varied and beautiful scenic views in all of Australia.

I literally had no idea what to expect, so it was great going in blind and absorbing all that Cairns had to show. Here are the top 6 things that I found Cairns had to offer.

1. The Esplanades


To many, a walkway by the shore is considered a boardwalk or pier. In Cairns, they have the Esplanades. Built in the early 1800s, the Esplanades stretch out from port to port, with little man made lagoons built in. With a couple of bars interspersed, it’s a popular place for backpackers to catch some sun and socialize with the locals.

2. Night Markets


With Cairns being such a small town, I was gleefully surprised they would have such a large market such as its Night Markets. Hosting multiple shops and restaurants, the Night Markets are a popular area to shop late at night.

3. Kangaroo Eats


Of all the craziest things to eat, I did not think you could actually consume a kangaroo. Many compared it to eating venison, and I could not agree more. It was a very lean meat and incredibly tasty! They are seen as pests in Australia (comparable to how northeasterners in the US feel about deer), so hunting and eating them is completely casual down under.

4. Rainforests (Atherton Tablelands & Cape Tribulation)


Upon arriving, I was amazed the rainforest vibe would actually be inside the town itself. Upon researching prior to arriving in Cairns, I did know there were popular rainforest spots where one can enjoy the tropics, but Cairns itself manages to marry nature with a breezy urban environment.

5. Great Barrier Reef Port


With an array of tours and cruises readily available at Cairns, sailing into the Great Barrier Reef is as easy as walking to the Marina and picking which cruise you would like to go on. However, I excited to find out how close “The Reef,” as the locals call it, was to Cairns. Most cruises make you sail out miles away from any port to reach the Great Barrier Reef, but Cairns manages to host itself right next to the underwater kingdom.

6. Spence St. Shopping Area


Like the Night Markets, Spence Street is known for its shops, restaurants and bar life. As a current Philadelphian, I love when I can spend hours just walking around a busy street and never be bored.

With the Esplanade Lagoons on the shore, Spence St. shopping areas, bars and clubs such as Woolsheds and Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant, it is no wonder backpackers flock up to Cairns for the sun and rainforest, complete with a slightly urban vibe, Aussie Style. And you cannot forget about the Night Markets which open at 5 pm, and boasts plenty of shops fit for your souvenir cravings. Cairns is a backpacker haven, no wonder OZ Experience ends their trip here! A definite must visit upon your travels in Australia. 

Ready to see the amazing sights of Cairns? Head down under on our Work Australia program!