Cairns is a bit of an anomaly as far as Australian tourism goes. While the state capitals and the areas surrounding them are the obvious destinations for visitors, this regional collection of townships finds itself ranked the fourth most visited city, following Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. This is definitely thanks in part to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, but Cairns has also figured out how to keep people coming back. The city has created the perfect balance of local charm and travelers comforts, which provides an easy and harmonious atmosphere. Hit the pavement, and you’re guaranteed to find restaurants, cafes and pubs filled with international visitors and friendly Cairnsittes alike. There’s shopping for those who lean toward more urban pleasures, and endless tours for the outdoorsman. The Esplanade is the perfect tourist strip, with a thriving nightlife, bustling night market, and cool lagoon.
What is the Cost of One Month of Housing in Cairns?
Being the tourism center that it is, finding a room that fits your budget shouldn’t be a problem. There are hundreds of accommodations to choose from, ranging between an $11 bed in one of the many hostel dorms, or the $609 rainforest canopy covered, split-level Deluxe King Suite at the stunning Green Island Resort.
If you are coming to Cairns to work abroad, and would like to stay in one place for a while, Cairns is a great place to rent a room in a shared house, or to keep your own apartment. Its distance from other major Queensland hotspots makes for slightly more reasonable housing costs. A house-with-roommates situation can be found for as little as $650/month on AirBnB, and will only get lower if you make a friend who already rents and can deal directly with them. If you prefer your very own apartment, expect rent to run you around $1100 for a city centre location, and as low as $850 outside of the centre.
What is the Cost of Transportation for One Month in Cairns?
Getting around Cairns isn’t terribly difficult, as the local transportation company Sunbus offers bus service throughout the city, stopping at all the popular spots. Bus fares are based on number of zones to be crossed. A single trip for one zone costs $2.20, or $4.40 for a paper ticket that is valid as a transfer for two hours. Weekly tickets cost $17.60 for one zone, so a month of bus travel could cost as little as $70.40.
The cycling community is rapidly growing, and the city has created scenic paths and cycle ways for you to safely get around. There are a few shops in town where you can rent a bike for about $40/week.
What is the Cost of Food for One Month in Cairns?
Finding a bite to eat that fits the size of both your hunger and wallet is super easy. Cafes with strong coffee drinks and sweet pastries exist on almost every corner, and the restaurant scene is bursting with top rated joints serving local and international cuisine. Eating out without spending an arm and a leg is completely possible. Sitting down at a casual spot like the popular Voodooz Cajun Kitchen will run you about $15 to $20 for an entree and a beverage. For cheap and tasty late night eats, hit the Night Markets on the Esplanade—here you will find Asian style hawker stalls serving up hot and fresh delights for about $10 a plate.
If you like to cook at home, rice averages around $2.00/kg, and chicken breast goes for about $10.75/kg.
What is the Cost of Entertainment for One Month in Cairns?
Keeping yourself entertained in Cairns can vary in cost, depending on what it is you like to do, and how you like to go about it. The Great Barrier Reef is an obvious must-see when in the area. The least expensive inclusive day trips all range around $180 no matter the company. A true budget explorer can catch a ferry to nearby Fitzroy Island for $69, and explore the sights at their own pace. This 4 sq. km island has a freely accessible tropical rainforest covering 97 percent of the land, white sand beaches, and its own fringe coral reef system, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Cairns also has an award winning tropical zoo. Admission is $34, but you might as well spend the extra $2 on a bag of special grain so you can hand feed the kangaroos. If you’re looking to volunteer abroad and are an animal lover, the Cairns Tropical Zoo has an excellent program for you to get involved.
For a night on the town, there are endless clubs and bars along the Esplanade. This area is very popular with backpackers, and is an excellent place to meet fellow travelers. A draught beer will cost around $6, and a cocktail will set you back $12 or so.