THINGS TO DO, SEE, AND EAT – BEST OF CAIRNS
Whether you’re a life-long Cairns local or you’ve just moved to this beautiful town, I am sure you’ll agree that there’s plenty of things to do, places to stay and amazing food to sample in the area.
At PakMag we want to celebrate all things Cairns this month and help you navigate the multitude of options available to you as we explore the best the region has to offer.
Where to Stay
The options of accommodation seem endless when it comes to staying in Cairns and Port Douglas. Here are our top three picks.
PakMag’s Pick for families that want it all
Nothing says relaxation quite like the QT Port Douglas. Nestled amongst lush greenery, its spacious pool deck, day spa and swim up bar mean that the QT Port Douglas is the perfect destination for holiday relaxation. However, don’t think ‘relaxing’ means ‘boring’ for the little ones. The huge lagoon pool and the proximity to the beach means the kids will be entertained for hours.
QT offers a number of accommodation options including hotel rooms, one bedroom and two bedroom villas and is perfect for any size family.
PakMag’s Pick for family fun
Fitzroy Island really is the epitome of family fun. Just 45 a minute ferry ride from Cairns, the island is a great mix of reef and rainforest and is an oasis for adventurous families. The resort features hotel rooms, self-contained apartments and beach cabins meaning whatever your holiday style, there’s something for you.
With a huge range of activities on the island, you’ll never be short of something to do. Snorkel or dive in the calm waters surrounding the island for a great land-based alternative to see the reef, visit the turtle rehabilitation centre or hire a kayak or paddleboard.
PakMag’s Pick for home away from home
Oaks Lagoon Port Douglas is an excellent option if you’re looking for a no-fuss getaway. Their six lagoon pools are great for the kids and the swim out rooms make keeping an eye on them from the comfort of your room easy.
Sometimes holidays are about doing nothing at all and at Oaks, you can certainly do that! The self-contained apartments mean you can do everything you would at home (but in a more relaxed way, of course!). Grab some groceries and cook dinner with the family or put on your pj’s and watch a movie. The Oaks Lagoons Port Douglas really does feel like a home away from home.
Where to eat
Restaurants, cafés and bars are abundant in Cairns and when dining with children, it’s important to be able to decipher not only which ones have great food, but which ones are family-friendly.
–The Shangri-La The Marina Cairns offers a great deal for locals to eat off the breakfast buffet. Adults $20.00, 6- 12 years $12.00 and below 6 eat for free! Not a local? Mention PakMag and you’ll get the same deal!
–Wharf One on Trinity Wharf near the Figtree playground have a great menu for breakfast, lunch and snacks. The playground is fantastic for kids, bring their bike or scooter and they will burn off energy whilst you enjoy an iced coffee from the café.
-Rusty’s Markets is a treasure trove of delicious goodies, perfect for a snack at any time of the day. Visit Rusty’s Friday and Saturdays from 5:00am to 6:00pm and Sundays from 5:00am to 3:00pm. Thirsty? Relax with a coffee, freshly squeezed juice or coconut water straight from the source. Peckish? Dig into a delicious pastry, Asian delicacy or tasty crepe.
–Mondo’s on the Waterfront at the Hilton have a family night on Tuesdays with face paining and singing for the kids.
–Ocha Cha offer amazing Japanese food and cater for children (even those with allergies), it’s a great taste of Japan in the heart of Cairns.
–Paradise Palms has a great family-friendly restaurant serving modern Australian, pan Asian and European dishes all day. Plus the kids can play on the large adventure playground or make a splash in the swimming pool.
Things to Do
Tjapukai is what we like to call ‘edu-tainment’! With its lessons about Indigenous culture coupled with trying activities such as boomerang and spear throwing, didgeridoo playing and dancing, there’s just the right mix between education and entertainment!
Visit during the day to see traditional dance and interactive displays. Or visit at night and be taken on a mesmerising journey with the Bama, the Indigenous rainforest people.
There’s a café and bar onsite so you can enjoy a bite to eat during your visit too.
Take your family on the trip of a lifetime. Fly high above Cairns and experience Far North Queensland like never before.
Nautilus Aviation is known as the company with the “red helicopters”. With bases in in Cairns, Townsville, Horn Island and Darwin, Nautilus Aviation houses a fleet of luxurious red Airbus helicopters including the H120 seating four passengers, and the H130 and H125 seating six passengers. These machines are fitted out with leather seats, air conditioning and state-of-the-art safety systems – an enclosed tail rotor makes them the quietest helicopters on the market, perfect for younger more sensitive ears.
This thrilling ride is a great way to see the beauty of the region whilst giving the kids an experience they’ll never forget!
GBR Helicopters are also a great option for a wonderful aerial experience. Fly from Cairns or Port Douglas and soar above the reef or rainforest to landing locations such as a reef pontoon, rainforest waterfall or sandy cay.
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is one of our favourite places for family fun. Start your day with the crocodile farm tour and take a boat cruise on Hartley’s lagoons whilst the crocs jump for their food. Or take a ride on Bad fishy, which is not your ordinary speed boat. Bad Fishy spins, slides and there is stunning sightseeing and a very educational tour about Cairns and Trinity Inlet. Cairns Regional Gallery is also a wonderful place, with craft classes and amazing works of art to check out.
Head to The Reef
No trip to Cairns is complete without a trip to the reef. Passions of Paradise is a great option for snorkelling, diving and sailing on the Great Barrier Reef. Sailing daily to the world-famous Michaelmas Cay and exclusive Paradise Reef, their 25-metre-high performance catamaran features large nets at the bow for relaxing in the sun, comfortable seating and double rear step at the stern for easy water access.
Fitzroy Island is a fantastic alternative to visiting the reef via boat. Explore the reef around the island and swim, snorkel and dive at your own pace or take a trip on the glass bottom boat to explore the coral and marine life without getting wet.
Beat the Heat (or the rain) Indoors – Inflatable Kingdom offers a great way to entertain the kids with bouncing fun and Cairns Recreation Centre have awesome deals on roller skating and rock climbing. Take in a round of Lasertag at LaserFun. Enjoy a family friendly movie at Event Cinemas or test your bowling skills at Go Bowling Cairns.
Cool down in an Extreme Way – Check out Tobruk Pool’s WaveRider, a surfing simulator, take in the waterslides and kid’s interactive water play area at SugarWorld and test your wake boarding skills at Cairns Cable Ski and Aqua Park.
Top FREE Activities
- Swim in the Lagoon
- Visit Kuranda
- Cains Botanic Gardens
- Cairns Regional Gallery (Free first Saturday of the month)
- Night Markets
- Muddy’s Water Playground
- Go to the Beach (Trinity Beach and Palm Cove are great for kids)
- Rusty’s Markets
- Waterholes (Crystal Cascades, Josephine Falls, Stoney Creek, and Ross ‘n Locke)
- Stroll on the Esplanade. Start with the Pirate Ship on the North Side, then make your way to the Boulders Park, the Skate Park, Muddy’s, the Lagoon and finally the Fig Tree.
Executive babysitting-if you need a night off from the kids whilst you relax.
Cairns Tropical Transfers-door to door service with a smile to get you to and from the airport.