36 Hours in Cairns: what should I do?

Old Jan 26, 18, 10:42 am
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36 Hours in Cairns: what should I do?

This coming December, I will have 36 hours in Cairns. I will be coming from Tasmania, so will not have any jet lag with which to deal. I visited the area some 10 or 15 years ago; my husband has never been. What I did:
  • Duck tour of Cairns
  • Scenic railway/skyrail
  • Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Day trip to Daintree - I think there were different aspects including a boat ride thru mangroves
I did not go to the Great Barrier Reef.

What do you consider the top picks for a 36 hour visit? We arrive at noon on a Friday and leave at 9am on the following Sunday. We will rent a car.

We are currently booked at the Hilton in Cairns. I stayed there on my past trip and it was ok/meh. I'd like to use points and could also stay at the Sheraton in Port Douglas but hear it is somewhat rundown. Thoughts?
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Old Jan 26, 18, 12:21 pm
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Back in 2009 Mrs. Fredd and I enjoyed Oz Fest #6 in Cairns, and you can find a link here to the activities the locals planned for us.

That's at least a starting point for you to consider.
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Old Jan 28, 18, 1:22 am
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I did a short 4 day trip to Cairns and Port Douglas in November 2016. Really enjoyed my stay in both. Cairns as a city is pleasant enough and has a decent variety of restaurants, though it's worth doing some research on them first. The ones nearest the water tend to be the best. A Great Barrier Reef cruise can always be worth doing. We went on the Skyrail, cable car up, and train back down. I thought the cable car was fantastic, and would do it both ways. The train, whilst interesting takes longer. A visit to Palm Cove and a meal there overlooking the beach could be added to the Skyrail.
Port Douglas is great to relax, and wine and dine, but may not be worth going there for just one night.

As far as hotels go we stayed at Hilton Cairns, and Sheraton Port Douglas.
I really liked the Hilton, its an older hotel but has been refurbished and is quite comfortable. If you can get a water view room on the 9th (top) floor its great.
I also recommend the Executive Lounge. Great hosts there and a reasonable food and drink spread, perfect for breakfast and canapes, with a view.
The Sheraton is set in large grounds with many pools for lazing or swimming. It has been completely refurbished, so as far as rooms and public areas go its right up to standard. Service at times can be a bit relaxed!

Hope you enjoy Far North Queensland.
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Old Jan 28, 18, 10:01 pm
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We had an overnight in Cairns a bit over a year ago, stayed at the Shangri La Marina. VERY nice. They were mid-upgrade then (some rooms not yet complete), I knew it and asked for a room on the updated floor.

We departed the next day for the reef. On our return we rented a 4x4 and drove CNS-(via tablelands) Cooktown- (viaBloomfield track)-Mossman. Spend 4 days there, then flew down to SYD and back. Very much enjoyed the tablelands, as well as Daintree/Cape Trib. Didnt spend much time at all in Cairns. Not sure what else you are doing elsewhere, but snorkling something out on the reef would be a must do IMO.

Last edited by Exec_Plat; Jan 29, 18 at 7:37 pm
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Old Jan 29, 18, 12:46 am
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My immediate reaction to what to do in Cairns would be to leave, but if you must stay the Armour & Artillery Museum is surprisingly good and ~15 minutes from the airport too.
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Old Feb 2, 18, 2:04 am
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Port Douglas makes for a nice resort, but if you can get a slightly more premium room at the Hilton in Cairns then you'll at least be able to relax, unwind and get comfortable in the bathtub.

That said, if you'd prefer to get active then a day-trip snorkelling on the Saturday would make for a grand affair and also enable you to enjoy the major sites on Friday and Sunday before you head back to the airport. My old folks went out to the reef on such a day-trip and they haven't stopped raving about it since.
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Old Feb 4, 18, 9:57 pm
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Few places you'll see anywhere in the world are heaving quite like the Woolshed, even on weeknights. If you get there around midnight (or whenever they play either "YMCA"" or "Dancing Queen") you'll probably see people dancing on the tables (the same ones used for the pub meals earlier in the night).
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Old Oct 12, 18, 12:39 am
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Thanks to the ideas on this thread! Although I didn't post, I used it as a reference for our stay in Cairns earlier this week. Here is what we did:
* Sunday: arrival, explore town, dinner at a small pub
* Monday: Sky Rail/Sky Train, lunch and explored Kuranda (there was a crepe place that was really good)
* Tuesday: day on the reef. we ended up at a place that had its own place docked. I did snuba and a, "snorkel safari." both were excellent, and they took some great underweater photos.
* Wednesday: drove up to Daintree. the drive is amazing!
* Thursday: just went to the Botanic Gardens before flying out. they were surprisingly good, and free

Along with those, I swim and found the Tobruk Memorial Pool, which is one of the best pools (in the world) that I've ever been in. 50m, 10 lanes, and I had my own lane most of the time. It was about a 5-10 min drive from our hotel.

We had dinner at the aquarium once, which was also a great experience. Supposedly if you want a table beside the aquarium you need to book a week out, but we sat outside and were still able to see it, and get the fresh air.
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