July to October is high season. Flight to Cairns are not at their cheapest but crowds still fly in from all over Australia to attend ‘the Cairns Show’, a three day event of fun-packed entertainment which has grown to almost 80,000 visitors a year, making it the biggest community event in Cairns. Originating from themes such as agricultural, pastoral and mining, the show now features a variety of other entertainment such as extreme sports, fireworks, wood chopping and the Queensland pole climbing competition. More than 200 local industries travel to promote their products and services attracting large international and national business to the show.
The “wet season” is low season. It runs from November to April when there are torrential rains and humidity levels are high. If you’re willing to brave the rains it’s a good time to book cheap flights to Cairns and take up the discounts offered by tour operators, hotels and apartments. Divers will experience the best underwater visibility during the “wet” months, more than 50 metres sometimes. Stinger (Box jellyfish) Season is November-May and bathers should ensure that they follow the lifeguards’ advice about swimming within enclosures and between lifeguard flags.
May through to June are the shoulder months throughout Cairns, however there are still events occurring to be enjoyed by all. Cairns festival made its grand entrance into the regions event calendar through the opening on a brand new jetty on Green Island in 1961. Attendees can soak up a three-week long packed itinerary full of enjoyable entertainment for all such as food and wine exhibitions, live music, quest performances and multicultural and community celebrations that displays the region’s diverse talent. Although the festival takes place during the shoulder season, flights to Cairns and hotel rates may be subject to increase.
Cairns is perhaps Australia’s most unabashed tourist-friendly city. Every year, more than two million tourists take flights to Cairns for its near-perfect climate and its proximity to the jaw-droppingly awesome attractions of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. Cairns is the only place in the world where two World Heritage Areas meet.
Cairns city is a great base and has plenty to occupy tourists while they’re between reef or rainforest trips. There’s a wonderful Esplanade that’s comprises a swimming lagoon that’s open between 6am and 10pm daily, an amphitheatre, picnic and barbecue spots, walking trails, a children’s playground called Muddy’s and shops, restaurants and markets both day and night. Just 2 miles (4km) from the centre of the city are the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Lush and very, very green, these 24 miles (38km) of gardens are made up of the Flecker Gardens and Centenary Lakes, where a boardwalk will wind you through mangroves and tropical rainforest. Behind the gardens, Mt Whitfield Conservation Park is more than 741 acres of forested mountain range.
There are two seasons – a wet season that runs from November to May (summer) and a dry season that starts about June and stretches to October (winter). January, February and March are the wettest months and there is the greatest chance of cyclones between December and April. Temperatures are pretty stable throughout the year. Daytime temps range between 14 and 26 degrees Celsius in the dry season while visitors can expect temperatures of between about 24 to 33 degrees during the wet season.
Cairns’s city centre is small enough to walk around, but if you are planning on getting out to the
Daintree National Park (a three-hour drive north of Cairns) or Kuranda Village (a 40-minute drive), renting a car is best. There are car-rental desks at Cairns Airport. Alternatively, you could take a four-wheel drive (4WD) tour. Several companies offer 4WD tours to the most popular destinations including Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation, Cape York, Undara National Park and Chillagoe. If you’re visiting the region during the wet season (November-April) a four-wheel drive is the best way of getting around. Sunbus is the bus service around Cairns. There are eight routes, serving destinations such as the Botanic Gardens, Clifton Beach, Kewarra Beach and Yorkeys Knob.
Travellers who take flights to Cairns may wish to rent a car at the airport for maximum independence. Alternatively, there is a taxi rank located beside both the International and Domestic terminals at Cairns Airport (CNS). A taxi fare to the CBD runs between $15 and $20. Airport shuttle bus services are operated by Australia Coach/Sun Palm Express. They connect the airport with hotels, the city centre, Northern Beaches, Palm Cove, Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. Finally, several accommodation providers will operate courtesy coach services to and from the airport.