Cairns city is a vibrant city whose centre focuses on the Cairns Esplanade at the waterfront with the relatively small cosmopolitan CBD bounded by Cairns Central Shopping Centre to the west; North Cairns and Cairns International Airport to the north.
The majority of Cairns tourist attractions and services are based around The Esplanade and Reef Fleet Terminal on Pierpoint Rd, jutting out into the bay with wharves, a marina and shopping centre at The Pier. This is where the reef and island cruises depart from, as well as the more sedate (but not boring!) harbour croc cruises.
There are a number of excellent oceanfront eateries in the same complex as well as a must visit bar called the SaltHouse - where you will find the locals on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The Esplanade Lagoon is a 4800sq metre saltwater swimming pool which is one of the 'postcard' shots of the city. The lagoon is one of the Gay Cairns must visit spots, every day of the week it is filled with backpackers and locals with plenty of eye candy, which is why you will always find gay guys and girls relaxing and enjoying the 'sights'. Your best bet is to congregate on the sandy beach side of the lagoon. It’s a great way to spend a day - relaxing by the lagoon - and if you can’t swim never fear lifeguards are on duty at the
Night time in paradise and the city comes to life. The tropical weather means early evening is the perfect time to head out on foot and explore the city. From the beauitifully lit avenues of trees along the waterfront to the boardwalk that extends the entire 2.5kms of the epslanade.
The newly renovated cruise terminal (and we're talking cruise ships, not gay cruising!) and the adjacent park is also a must visit destination. Follow the boardwalk from the pier shopping centre around in front of the Hilton Hotel to get there.
Rainy day in paradise... never fear there is much to do as well. The Cairns ZOOm rainforest in the iconic Reef Hotel Casino Dome - Here you zipline over a crocodile, pat a baby croc and cuddle a koala. You can also do a dome climb were you are attached to a line and you walk around the top of the Dome itself. It's a great way to get a birdseye view of the city.
Along the esplanade itself you will encounter a plethora of restaurants and bars, one street back is Abbott St, where you will find the regional art gallery, and other great shops... And talking of shopping the area between the Art Gallery south towards the Casino and Rainforest Dome you will find international stores like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton.
Grafton st, a couple of streets back from the city centre is the 'hip' part of town. You will find the groovy cafes and local clothes stores in this area. We highly recommend gay holiday makers head to Grafton St and on the way stop for a coffee at the ultra hip Rehab cafe near the corner of Lake and Shields streets. Once on Grafton St there is a number of places to choose from. The Lillypad cafe is a local favourite (and a little alternative) or if you are into the 'raw food' movement then the Paleo Cafe is for you... You wont find a carbohydrate in sight in this venue!
The majority of restaurants, entertainment venues, bars, clubs and tour outlets can be found in the city centre. Likewise it is home to some of the major hotels like the Pullman Cairns International, Cairns Hilton and the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino.
Don't forget to pick up your copy of the monthly gay magazine - FNQ magazine - that you will find in cafes and shops across the city. FNQ magazine will show you all the sights you need to see in and around Cairns!