The city of Cairns is one of the most prominent in all of Queensland located on the Far North shore. You'll find a wide variety of activities here for both kids and adults, making it one of the best destinations for family holidays. Whether you're interested in outdoor splendour or inner-city fun, you'll find plenty to see and do in the area. A quality holiday experience isn't just a matter of creating the perfect itinerary, however, so you'll need to plan out the entire trip to get the most of your family time together. Learn how to plan unforgettable Cairns holidays for families.
Getting to Cairns
The first step in your journey is getting to Cairns. Being in Australia, travel is fairly easy no matter which of the options you go for. You'll find plenty of flights that lead you to Cairns, but you can also travel by car if you're looking for something closer to a road-trip experience. You'll find other methods of travel available as well, though some are easier on families than others. Keep in mind what will keep your family happy and what will be best for your budget when planning your trip.
Flying to Cairns
If you want the fastest path to Cairns, nothing beats flying. You'll find regular domestic flights to Cairns from virtually every Australian city. Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth all have direct flights to Cairns. The latter is the longest, with the flight taking a little over 4 hours. Several small cities offer these flights as well, such as Cooktown, which is a mere 45 minutes away. Similarly, you can find flights to Cairns from Horn Island, Darwin and Townsville. Opting for a flight makes getting to Cairns easy and lets you devote most of your holiday time to exploring what Cairns itself has to offer.
Driving to Cairns
If you're looking to drive to Cairns from somewhere else in Australia, you'll certainly find roads to do so. The practicality of driving, however, quickly diminishes the farther away you start. For example, those in Perth will be on the road for more than 51 hours to get to Cairns, and that's just time on the road excluding time sleeping. Even driving from somewhere much closer like Brisbane can be quite the journey, requiring 18 hours behind the wheel. The Bruce Highway makes it more than possible, but you'll need to be prepared for the distance. If you only have a few days to spend in Queensland, your best bet may be flying. If you do have the time, however, a road trip along Australia's eastern coast can be unforgettable.
Taking the train to Cairns
Taking the train is another option available to you, as the Spirit of Queensland travels from Brisbane to Cairns 5 times a week. It can be a satisfying ride if you're looking to see the varied Australian landscapes, though the train does take quite a while. It's not a high-speed train, so it's actually slower than driving, taking about 24 hours to reach Cairns from Brisbane. It's also not all that budget-friendly, as the train is quite luxurious, so think of it as leisurely transport rather than quick transportation.
Where to stay in Cairns
To get the most out of your holiday experience, you'll need to find a proper area to stay in Cairns. Quite a few neighbourhoods are available throughout town with incredible accommodation, but some are better suited for families than others. Find out which neighbourhoods would be best for your Cairns family holiday.
Book a rental in Esplanade
The Esplanade area may be the most popular area in town, and it's perfect for first-timers visiting Cairns. You'll find a variety of family-friendly attractions here, including plenty of water activities and a thrilling boardwalk. It's packed with markets, shops and restaurants that the whole family can enjoy all within walking distance of each other, making it easy to plan a day out. Plus, the accommodation options here can be quite varied, offering luxury and affordability in equal measure.
Plan your trip to Parramatta Park
If you're looking for accommodation on a budget, Parramatta Park may be your best option. The rentals near here are remarkably affordable, yet you won't find yourself all that far from the action. This park is just 500 metres from the city centre, so you won't have to travel too long to get to some of the best attractions in town. Plus, this park has quite a few attractions of its own, especially if you're interested in vibrant green spaces.
Relax in Trinity Beach
Families often find themselves drawn to Trinity Beach thanks to its laid-back atmosphere compared to other areas closer to Cairns' city centre. While this beach is technically within the city limits, it's not in the smaller township area, so you'll have some breathing room for quiet and relaxing nights. It's also only 15 minutes away from Cairns International Airport by car, so families who are flying into the city can easily reach their accommodation upon arrival.
Explore Cairns family attractions
Once you get to Cairns, you'll want to check out what kind of attractions it has. Fortunately, you'll find plenty of fun things to do no matter what your family is interested in, so coming up with a fun itinerary should be easy. You'll find indoor and outdoor activities, as well as those focused on the city and others more centred on the surrounding countryside. The key to finding the best things to do is considering what your family is most interested in. Check out the best Cairns family attractions.
Splash around at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
Cairns may not have any decent beaches, but it does have the next best thing. At the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, the whole family can enjoy the cool and calming waters of this lagoon-style pool. While much of it functions as a typical pool, you'll also find a portion designed much like a beach with a sand-laden entry on one side. Much of the pool is shallow, though depths reach as deep as 1.5 metres. Plenty of shade is available throughout the pool area as well, though you should be wary of birds that like to visit the overhanging branches. This is also part of the larger Cairns Esplanade complex, which features scenic walking paths and vibrant greenery.
Image Alt Text: Silhouette of family looking at fish in aquarium FILE #: 62068492
Discover magnificent marine life at Cairns Aquarium
When your family visits Cairns Aquarium, you can explore a wide variety of marine life with more than 15,000 animals in residence. The collection tends to focus on the life found just off the shores of Queensland, but you'll find more exotic animals here as well. In addition to the impressive displays, daily talks and presentations are available that can offer you and your family greater insight into these fascinating creatures. Don't forget to check out the touch tanks as well. You'll find 2, and they're a popular favourite for kids who visit.
Image Alt Text: Young woman snorkeling in tropical water FILE #: 138498684
Explore the Great Barrier Reef
One of the most iconic locations in Cairns and the entire world is the legendary Great Barrier Reef. During your visit, you won't want to miss out on this attraction that's sure to excite your entire family. Several kinds of tours are available for this underwater attraction, so you'll need to decide which works best for your family. You can venture out on a glass-bottom boat to see it that way. Alternatively, you can take a boat out and go diving to see it underwater, though that's generally only an option for families with older teenagers who have some diving experience. Snorkelling is a bit more accessible, so that may be your best bet.
Book the right family accommodation in Cairns
To get the most out of your Cairns family holiday, you'll need to book a rental that the whole family can be satisfied with. Fortunately, a wide variety of family accommodation in Cairns is available, so you can customize your experience as you see fit. Whether you're looking for something luxurious, something budget-friendly or something that can offer a satisfying middle ground, you'll find no shortage of options available in and around the city. Take a look at some of the best accommodation options on offer.
Image Alt Text: Accommodation in tree top home Site ID: https://www.stayz.com.au/holiday-rental/p9197840?noDates=true&uni_id=4698715
Book one of the family resorts in Cairns
If you're looking for convenience and luxury on your holiday, there's nothing quite like the family resorts in Cairns. You won't find a better place to feel pampered with premier service and amenities that make relaxing easy. These resorts often feature room service, comprehensive spa treatments, on-site restaurants and plenty of pools for you and your little ones to enjoy. The resorts often also have kids' clubs packed full of activities your children can enjoy, leaving you and the other adults in your family free to enjoy activities that may not entirely be appropriate for young children. Plus, resorts have all the space your family will ever need.
Image Alt Text: Balcony view overlooking garden and pool Site ID: https://www.stayz.com.au/holiday-rental/p9187037?noDates=true&uni_id=4538118
Rent an apartment for a Cairns family holiday
Families who are looking to be in the centre of the action may want to book an apartment rental during their stay. Cairns family holidays based in apartment rentals provide easy access to some of the best attractions in town, so it's the ideal destination in most cases if you don't have a car. While apartments may evoke images of a relatively small space, plenty of the apartments near the Cairns city centre are quite spacious, with 3 bedrooms or more and enough space for the whole family to sleep comfortably while enjoying relative privacy. Plus, modern apartments tend to come with impressive amenities like integrated WiFi and a full kitchen.
Image Alt Text: Beautiful night view of home with private pool Site ID: https://www.stayz.com.au/holiday-rental/p9553077?noDates=true&uni_id=8632776
Book a house rental on your family trip
Nothing beats a house if you're looking for that home-away-from-home feel during your Cairns family holiday. A house rental can offer all the comforts of home, which is especially beneficial if your kids aren't all that used to different circumstances and travel. Additionally, houses are quite spacious, offering plenty of room for a family to relax and sleep comfortably. While all the comforts of home, like a full kitchen and central heating and cooling, are generally offered, you may find some extra features as well. For example, you'll find some house rentals in Cairns that have their own hot tubs and private pools, letting your family have some fun without ever having to leave the property.