Cairns, QLD, Australia cruises

Cairns port guide

Laid-back Cairns is located in the tropical Far North of Queensland. It’s the remarkable gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, a spectacular location renowned for snorkeling and diving amongst kaleidoscopic marine life and coral.

A mecca for divers and a haven for lovers of the great outdoors, Cairns is a unique city and home to two World Heritage sites – the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park. A visit to Cairns offers an ultimate tropical discovery.

Cairns’ cruise port is situated next to the vibrant city center. Here you’ll find extensive shopping and dining experiences, and direct access to the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage Tropical Rainforests. 

Top landmarks and sights in Cairns

Cairns boasts an array of waterfalls and untamed rainforests, combined with a bustling city center. There’s truly something to suit all tastes.

Be treated to a breathtaking bird's eye view by taking to the sky in the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The gondola cableway spans 5 miles over the lush UNESCO Wet Tropics of Queensland Rainforest connecting Cairns to Kuranda. It’s not only a unique experience and a fun way to immerse yourself in nature, but also an ideal way to witness the beauty of the world’s oldest rainforest ecosystem in the Barron Gorge National Park.

You could also take in the delights of the scenic, heritage-listed Cairns to Kuranda railway ride. The line, constructed in 1891, takes you from Cairns, over the Great Dividing Range, to the tranquil mountain village of Kuranda. Enjoy taking in the scenery of the Macalister Range, the suburbs of Stratford, Freshwater, and Redlynch, before stopping at a lookout point providing stunning views of Barron Falls.

Cairns is a haven for nature and wildlife lovers. Each year, visitors flock to the Great Barrier Reef, via Cairns, to swim, snorkel and dive with more than 1,500 marine species.

Cape Tribulation is where the rainforest meets the reef, known as the Final Frontier. Here you can see the start of where raw Australia begins. Offering an array of diverse natural beauty and unique flora and fauna - among the many species of birds, reptiles, mammals, and frogs – you’ll be immersed in wildlife in this lush natural haven.

Things to do in Cairns

One of the city’s best-known landmarks is the famous lagoon. Conveniently located on the Cairns esplanade, you can easily access this hotspot while exploring the city center. The lagoon is roughly the size of an Olympic swimming pool, with a depth of around 5 feet. The 51,667 square foot saltwater pool is lined with parks, shady trees, boardwalks, and barbecues. Whether you are looking for a spot to swim or simply unwind, its central location and changing facilities make the Cairns esplanade lagoon an ideal and convenient place to visit.  

Head down to Cairns Harbour, also known as Cairns Marlin Marina, and find a gateway to the city’s oceanic attractions. The marina boasts a modern architectural style, and its contemporary glass design will no doubt soon fill your camera roll. For a relaxed, slow-paced afternoon, why not meander along the marina and perhaps stop to enjoy a coffee, while you watch boats come and go?

The Cairns Museum, located in the heart of the city center, is well worth a visit to discover the history of Cairns and Far North Queensland. Offering a snapshot into the dynamic region and its people, past and present, the museum holds an eclectic mix of collections and stories celebrating local heritage. 

Eating and drinking near Cairns cruise port

Sample a wonderful variety of cuisine at Cairns Marlin Marina. The esplanade is home to some of the best restaurants that Cairns has to offer, and you’re sure to find dishes to suit your palate while enjoying the attractive backdrop of this modern marina. Perhaps try mouthwatering local seafood, or stop by one of the bistros for a spot of brunch and take in the waterside views.

When dining out in Cairns, the cuisine on offer is vibrant and eclectic. From celebrations of unique Australian cuisine including Kangaroo, Barramundi, Crocodile, and Emu, to international choices such as Asian, Greek, Italian, Mexican, and Japanese, you’ll be sure to find something to tempt.

Cairns celebrates its gateway to the Great Barrier Reef in part by serving up a delicious selection of fresh local catches and mouthwatering seafood. Plus, thanks to Cairns’ tropical climate, you’ll see an abundance of fresh fruit that is unique to the region, with many local restaurants incorporating these into stunning dishes. From dragon fruit to rambutan, Cairns is home to some delectable cuisine celebrating its tropical fresh fruit crops. 

Shopping in Cairns

Enjoy browsing Cairns Central’s array of 180 specialty shops, including everything from fashion to jewelry, and homeware to gifts. Unwind amid your shopping trip and enjoy a coffee in the center's fully air-conditioned food court. Marlin Marina is also home to a host of local boutiques and designer stores, where you can pick up something unique.

Keen shoppers can also take to Cairns Central, the largest shopping center in Far North Queensland. The center is conveniently located in the city center and is home to a host of retail stores and a cinema.

If you’ll be lucky enough to stop in Cairns overnight on your cruise, find a unique shopping experience in the city’s night markets. Operating daily from 4:30 pm – 11:30 pm, at The Esplanade in central Cairns, enjoy browsing through the bustling retail outlets and sample a host of culinary options.

Getting around, Cairns transport

Thanks to Cairns’ flat landscape, and city center amenities being conveniently located close together, Cairns is straightforward to get around.

Should you be looking to travel out and around of Cairns, there are many transport options to suit all budgets. One of the most convenient ways to get around is via the city’s inexpensive and efficient Sunbus service. This services Cairns city center, its suburbs, and the local beaches across its eight different routes. All routes start at the Cairns City Mall and offer a reliable and cost-effective way to get around.

You will also find numerous taxis available across the city, and there are usually taxis on hand outside the cruise port. You can pick up a taxi either at one of the many taxi ranks or by hailing one down in the street, which local drivers are accustomed to. 

Cairns port facilities

Visitors to Cairns port will benefit from an award-winning cruise terminal, situated in the heart of the city.

An easy and short walk to downtown Cairns, visitors can enjoy all the convenience of a central location and easy access to bars, restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets, almost as soon as they step on land.

Cairns quick tips


The currency used in Cairns, and throughout Australia, is the Australian Dollar. While most establishments will accept card payments, it can be useful to carry some cash if you’ll be visiting stalls or smaller shops. For this, you’ll find ATMs conveniently located across the city.


Cairns experiences hot and humid summers (December – February) and mild, dry winters (June – August). The average summer temperatures in Cairns range from 74 - 89°F. The wet season starts to build up around December, with most of the region’s annual rainfall taking place during the summer months. There is less rainfall during Cairns’ winter months.