So you’ve come to Cairns to soak up the sun, jump on a tour to the Great Barrier Reef, and explore the rainforest. You’ve done scuba diving and gotten your selfie with a turtle, seen the Barron Falls, and are now wondering what to do with your spare time. Many visitors come to Cairns with a budget in mind, want to do activities that won’t break the bank. As locals, we here at Passions have some great recommendations for things to do that are great for those travelling on a budget, so read below for five great ideas after you’ve done your day tour to the reef!
Located just a short drive from the Cairns CBD, Crystal Cascades is a favourite spot of locals looking for scenic views and a cool place to swim. It is a large freshwater stream cutting through the lush, tropical rainforest. The most remarkable part of the area is series of waterfalls that run into calm pools surrounded by huge boulders. The surrounding rainforest acts as an umbrella for the area; the result is cool fresh water that makes it the ideal place for a relaxing swim. There are also council-managed and cleaned BBQ and picnic tables in the area with a toilet/change rooms. Be sure to stay on the prescribed path, and watch your footing. If you have a waterproof camera (such as a GoPro) you will be able to get some absolutely stunning pictures that will be sure to make your friends jealous.
Located in one of Cairns’ most relaxed suburbs, Goomboora Park is truly a secret treasure. Locals know it as Cairns premier dog park, an area where you can bring the whole family (including the furry members) and have a nice relaxing afternoon. If you are a visitor to Cairns, you will find this a great place to bring a book, go for a walk, and have a barbeque. There is also a trail that leads to a small freshwater stream surrounded by rainforest plants. The result is a picturesque tropical setting tucked away in a quiet suburb. The stream is cool and ideal for a quick swim. Visitors will find the locals friendly, and if you are an animal lover, you may even find yourself a temporary best friend, as many pet owners let their dogs off their leads to explore, play and socialise.
Located about an hour’s drive from cairns, just up the Gilles Mountain Range, Lake Barrine is a blue lake surrounded by beautiful tropical rainforest. The area features several picnic areas, a walking track, and giant bull kauri pines. Furthermore, there is also a privately-owned teahouse and boat cruise you can take. The only downside? As a National Park, there is a ban on pets, fires and camping overnight.
Just a stone’s throw from Lake Barrine, Lake Eacham is part of Crater Lakes National Park, and is a favourite spot of locals looking to escape the busy aspects of city life. Located up the Gilles Range, Lake Eacham has several barbeque areas, as well as sheltered picnic tables and toilet and change-room facilities. The highlight is definitely the lush tropical rainforest that surrounds the cool waters, equally stunning at night. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife such as cassowaries and tree kangaroos. Please note that, like Lake Barrine, there is a ban on pets, fires and camping overnight.
Many visitors to Cairns find it odd that Cairns does not boast a beach near its CBD. There is a tropical lagoon pool that is quite popular with locals and tourists alike; however, many find the crowds to be a turnoff. Instead, many locals and visitors drive to a number of beaches located north of the city. These idyllic spots include Palm Cove, Ellis Beach, Yorkey’s Knob, and Machan’s Beach. Each of these spots is great for an oceanside walk or a snooze in the sun. Be aware: During November through to the end of May, jellyfish known as “stingers” may be present. During this period, locals recommend swimming only at a beach with stinger nets, such as Palm Cove.