Cairns, Australia: Where the Rainforest Meets the Reef

  • Wally the Maori Wrasse

  • Cairns Landscape

Cairns is located in Tropical Far North Queensland, Australia. For 300 days a year, Cairns is humid and warm making it the perfect paradise. It also happens to be one of the world’s best-kept secrets!

As a local girl living in a traditionally tourist town, I always try to appreciate where I live. When visiting Cairns, be sure to see my top 4 paradise picks:


Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the oldest and largest reefs in the world. The marine life is vibrant in size and colour with some of the most spectacular coral seen anywhere.

Cairns offers many different ways to see the reef, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the magic, even if you only want to dip your toes in the water! I have viewed and explored the reef many ways – from sailing, to swimming, to flying over and diving.

I recommend seeing the reef by tour; my favourite day-tour is with Reef Magic Cruises. It was with Reef Magic that I met the infamous Wally! Wally is a 50-kilogram Maori Wrasse fish, who has resided on the reef for many years, welcoming visitors. He is huge, colourful and his personality is like a big puppy dog always wanting a pat. He teases the divers with his colourful fins and frolics around the snorkelers showing off his handsome colours. This all of course compliments his amazing home amongst the many corals and clams.


The rainforest offers never ending choices of waterfalls and swimming holes, and the flora and fauna is in abundance. The smells are almost hypnotic! When exploring the rainforest, I have seen some of the rarest wildlife. Be sure to keep an eye out for birds, snakes and crocodiles, not to mention the exotic Ulysses and Birdwing butterflies.

Keep in mind, too, that Cairns has many locations to access the rainforest and every part has a different name. My favorite spot is the Daintree region, particularly the ice-cold rock pools at Mossman Gorge.


Cairns has a huge coastline of amazing beaches, all with fine white sand to wiggle your toes in. I have lost days finding new beaches to soak up the tropical ambience. The top beach you must visit: Clifton Beach!


Restaurants in Cairns are not just about the food… the waterfront locations with relaxing ambiences create the real struggle – deciding which one of the hundreds of great places to choose from. The food itself is fresh from the mountains to the sea. To enjoy the best of Cairns dining, I recommend Mondos by the water for the best steak, Ochre for authentic Australian cuisine, and C’est Bon for French cuisine.

I hope to see you in paradise one day soon. Are there any favourites I missed? Tweet me @HiltonSuggests.

– Heather x


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This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Heather B. Are you interested in traveling to Cairns? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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