It is a stylish international city, and yet it is right on the edge of some of the most wild and beautiful scenery on earth including the oldest surviving tropical rainforest. After you select a hotel in Cairns, Australia, be sure to enjoy the Cairns Esplanade and check out the city’s restaurants and shopping. Attractions include:
If you want to get off the beaten path, then follow a different one. For a full-service trail motorbike “tour of a lifetime,” check out North Queensland Trail Bike Adventures. This outfit offers excellent planning and tailored personal experiences that will satisfy any off-road motorcycle enthusiast. Commit to as little or as much as you would like, as trips range anywhere from one to seven days. You will find yourself riding over varied and challenging terrains in the middle of the natural beauty and wonder of this remote and exciting world-heritage area. Not a bad start to a vacation!
Since you probably did not bring your little ones along on your trail-bike adventure, you can make it up to them with a visit to Muddy’s Playground on the Cairns Esplanade. Muddy’s, as it is known locally, claims that it “incorporates active, passive, interactive and educational facilities,” and there certainly is something exciting for kids of varying ages to do. Climb-on sculptures, waterspouts, streams and more will cool everyone off. The playground extends in all directions around a central café with a stunning view of Trinity Bay. There are sound chimes, playhouses, a storytelling area, a rope bridge, along with the usual slides and climbing equipment. Each age level has its own section and you may find that your kids want to come back again and again during your stay in Cairns.
Everyone in the family will find something to like at when you visit the Tablelands, waterfalls and Spanish Castle area of the rainforest. The Tablelands cover an extensive area west of Cairns; you will probably want to set aside two or more days to explore them. Cooler than the lower altitudes, they provide a refreshing mountain retreat with all the natural beauty and oddities (tree kangaroos, anyone?) of the rainforest. There is a route through the Tablelands that will take you on a tour of twenty or more waterfalls. Every waterfall on the circuit is beautiful, but pay special attention to the Millaa Millaa Falls: stare at the middle of the waterfall for 30 seconds, and then shift your eyes to the top where an optical surprise awaits you. Finally, check out the Spanish Castle, a magnificent edifice built by a Catalonian immigrant in 1929 and currently being restored. A 45-minute tour takes you around the building and surrounding park, and the restored hydro-electric generator provides mood lighting for the tour at night.
The Cairns Esplanade, home to Muddy’s, is well worth a visit on its own. It provides a lovely stroll with beautiful water views and places to sit and simply be. But if that’s not enough, there is plenty more on offer along the boardwalk, including beach handball, skateboarding, roller skating, climbing walls, memorials for fallen soldiers, fitness machines, playgrounds and separate cycling and skateboarding lanes. The birding here is spectacular and attracts a great many people armed with binoculars and notebooks. Bring along a picnic or something to cook on the barbeques that are scattered throughout the park and spend the day.
While you are on the Esplanade, check out the Cairns Esplanade Swimming Lagoon, where salt water is pumped in from Trinity Inlet and filtered for the safest of swimming locations. There is a beach area waiting for sandcastles to be built and deck areas for sunning and relaxing. Cairns’ ubiquitous “barbies” are here, too, so you can enjoy something grilled along with your picnic or just eat at the nearby café.
To learn more about the lush beauty that surrounds you, stop off at the Cairns Botanic Gardens and see all of tropical Queensland in one place, with nearly every plant and tree helpfully labeled for the visitor to identify. Follow the jungle boardwalk, marvel at exotic plants you may never have seen before including the giant Arum lily, Venus flytraps, flowering beehive plants, tropical focuses and cannonball trees. The Botanic Gardens are free and a lovely way to start or wind up your visit to Cairns.
Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns offers an introduction to some of the most vibrant, beautiful and exciting scenery anywhere in the world. Stay at one of the Choice Hotels in Cairns and explore a region that has justifiably won awards for its eco-tourism.
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