Destinations / Oceania

Where to Stay in Cairns: The Ultimate Seasonal Travel Guide

Cairns is a holiday destination for all seasons. This North Queensland gem is the ideal spot for enjoying tropical climates, gorgeous beaches, cultural attractions and the Great Barrier Reef. However, travellers still need to decide on the best time to visit Cairns. With heavy rain during the summer and remarkably warm water in the winter, the answer depends on what travellers wish to see and do.

Each season in Cairns brings a change in temperature, rainfall and reef activity. Although Cairns is a destination where visitors can enjoy activities year-round, there are particular months where snorkelling, reef cruises, rainforest treks and sporting events offer far more memorable experiences.

With this dilemma in mind, we’ve uncovered the best things to do in Cairns during each season. With over 400 million-plus annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve also found the most popular Cairns hotels depending on the time of year.

Winter in Cairns (June – August)

Winter in Cairns (June – August) Reef with Anemone Clown Fish, false clownfish in a sea anemone, sea turtle swimming underwater
Photo| Reef with Anemone Clown Fish, false clownfish in a sea anemone, sea turtle swimming underwater| GETTYIMAGES – ULTRAMARINFOTO, MARNIE GRIFFITHS, COPYRIGHT MELISSA FIENE

Winter is the most popular time of year to visit Cairns, when the city’s “dry season” almost guarantees the perfect weather. Lower temperatures, humidity and rainfall prompt visitors to explore the outdoor areas in Cairns such as islands, national parks and the Great Barrier Reef.

With water temperatures at their lowest, many snorkelling and diving excursions provide wetsuits. However, a lot of visitors instead opt for Great Barrier Reef cruises, preferring to enjoy the deep, clear blue waters in July, dwarf minke whales in June and humpback whales in August, from boats that provide experienced captains and attentive service. With heightened tourist numbers during winter, visitors should book all activities well in advance. For a great range of Cairns tours and things to do in Cairns, check out Tours To Go here.

Cairns Weather in Winter

Cairns Winter Map

5 Most Popular Cairns Hotels in Winter

Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island Resort, stay in cairns
Photo| Fitzroy Island Resort| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Fitzroy Island is one of the best winter experiences in Cairns, and many visitors choose complete immersion at this tropical island by staying at the luxurious Fitzroy Island Resort. Only 45 minutes from Cairns on the Fitzroy Fast Cat passenger ferry, the resort is comprised of 99 boutique rooms including ocean-facing suites, self-contained apartments and beachside cabanas.

Guests at Fitzroy Island Resort have a feast of tropical island experiences at their doorstep, including coastal walking trails, glass-bottom boat cruises, kayaking, snorkelling and a quality scuba diving school. The resort also offers a range of on-site holiday-centric facilities such as a cinema, game room, kids’ playroom, the Zephyr Restaurant and 70s-themed Foxy’s Bar, and a sun-drenched pool with swim-up bar.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: A$111 – A$401
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: Fitzroy Island, Cairns, Australia

Pacific Hotel Cairns

Pacific Hotel Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Pacific Hotel Cairns| Provided by ICE PORTAL

HotelsCombined visitors have highlighted Pacific Hotel Cairns’ location as one of the biggest reasons for staying at this opulent beachfront hotel. Positioned on the Cairns Esplanade, this charming hotel soaks up the best of sunny winter days on the ocean. It’s also a short walk from many of the attractions in Cairns including the Reef Casino, Convention Centre and various art galleries. The Esplanade itself features lush parklands, a market every Saturday and a lagoon-style public pool.

Accommodation ranges from very affordable Standard Rooms to the exquisite Deluxe Rooms with wraparound balconies overlooking the ocean. Even the reasonably-priced Superior Rooms boast plush king-sized beds, private balconies and water views. The award-winning Bushfire Flame Grill, a mix of Brazilian and Australian barbeque, is a must-do dining experience at Pacific Hotel Cairns. Guests can also cool off in the on-site pool encircled by towering native trees.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: A$124 – A$190
Guest Rating: 8.4
Address: 43 The Esplanade, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, stay in cairns
Photo| Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort| Provided by LEONARDO

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort epitomises the tropical holiday vibe in Cairns with its expansive lagoon-style swimming pool encircled by palm trees. This haven is found in the middle of the Cairns CBD, a couple of blocks from the beach. Guests can walk to the Esplanade, the harbour and St Monica’s Cathedral along with numerous restaurants and shops.

However, there’s every reason to spend days at the resort, enjoying hours of pampering at the Natural Palm day spa, renowned for its blended Aromatic Organic Oils and Thai-inspired techniques. Families can take advantage of babysitting services and the children’s play area, while hungry guests can indulge in local fare and refreshing drinks at the Mizuna Restaurant and Novo Bar & Terrace. Every room boasts a private balcony, mini bar, air conditioning and bright, welcoming furniture. Guests have the option of selecting a room overlooking the pool and gardens.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: A$120 – A$199
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: 122 Lake Street, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Peppers Beach Club & Spa

Peppers Beach Club & Spa, stay in cairns
Photo| Peppers Beach Club & Spa| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Located about 27 kilometres north of the Cairns CBD, Peppers Beach Club & Spa is a genuine tropical retreat nestled on the edge of a palm-fringed beach with crystalline water and soft sand. The five-star resort caters to travellers seeking luxury, boasting chic Spa Rooms, Suites and Penthouses. The most basic Ocean Spa room still features a private balcony spa bath and ocean views. Other rooms treat guests to private rooftop terraces, spacious living areas, plunge pools and full kitchens.

Although it’s tough leaving such opulent confines, guests should certainly venture outside to enjoy the resort’s three pools, therapeutic treatments at the Exclusive Spa, and reef fish and Daintree Rainforest produce at Lime & Pepper restaurant. Tennis courts, a swim-up bar, children’s playground and rooftop barbeque help turn Peppers Beach Club & Spa into a complete holiday destination.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: A$200 – A$366
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: 123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, Cairns, Australia

Cairns Colonial Club Resort

Cairns Colonial Club Resort, stay in carins
Photo| Cairns Colonial Club Resort| Provided by LEONARDO

Effortlessly blending mainstream hotel convenience with tropical resort beauty, Cairns Colonial Club Resort is the perfect accommodation for no-fuss holidays. Located close to Cairns Botanic Gardens, this four-star resort surrounds guests with 4.5 hectares of tropical gardens, 345 delightful rooms and three lagoon-style pools. The latter provide complete peace and relaxation with waterfalls and sun loungers.

The Classic Queen Room and Standard Room are popular among budget-savvy travellers, with comfortable, naturally-lit accommodation beside lush gardens. The Studio Room offers a self-catered option with a kitchenette and separate dining and lounge room. Alternatively, guests can eat out at the on-site restaurant or sip on cocktails at one of the two bars. There’s also a game room, resort shop and a tour desk for booking reef and national park excursions.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$74 – A$130
Guest Rating: 7.7
Address: 18-26 Cannon Street, Manunda, Cairns, Australia

Hotel Location

Top Cairns Experiences in Winter

Great Barrier Reef Cruise

woman swimming above the colorful coral reef island,
Photo| Woman swimming above the colorful coral reef island| SHUTTERSTOCK – SOFT_LIGHT

Winter is one of the best times of year to see the Great Barrier Reef, as the water is clear blue and the endless sunshine yields tremendous wildlife watching experiences. Humpback and minke whales also migrate past Cairns during this time of year. Most cruises embark for a half or full day and include unique experiences such as snorkelling, glass-bottom boat and semi-submarine tours, helmet diving, and swimming around the reef.

Fitzroy Island

Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island
Photo|Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island| SHUTTERSTOCK – MARTIN VALINGURSKY

A 45-minute ferry ride takes visitors to Fitzroy Island, a tropical haven of cocktail-blue water, sheltered bays, palm-lined beaches and wildlife. Visitors can tailor their Fitzroy Island experience to suit them, whether they prefer to kick back on the beach, hike the summit trails for breathtaking views, visit the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, dive the reef or embark on a glass-bottom boat tour. Those who wish to stay longer can book a room at Fitzroy Island Resort.

Jet Boating

Young couple riding jet boat, stay in cairns
Photo| Young couple riding jet boat| GETTYIMAGES – JIM ARBOGAST

There’s plenty of adventure and adrenalin-pumping action to be found in Cairns. Bad Fishy provides its fair share with the “Tropical Twist”, an exciting 35-minute jet boat ride. Visitors board the jet boat at the marina and soon find themselves clinging on as the boat spins, slides and zooms around Trinity Bay at breakneck speeds. Music pumps in the background and the expert drivers are constantly thinking up new ways to thrill their passengers.

Daintree National Park

Sugar Glider joey in the leaves in the trees outside
Photo| Sugar Glider joey| SHUTTERSTOCK – DOTY911

Visitors can embark on guided or self-guided tours to Daintree National Park, a 1,200-square-kilometre expanse of native rainforest, mountain woodlands and long sandy beaches. Comprised of two distinct sections, Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation, it’s one of Australia’s most biologically diverse environments, home to unique plant and animal species. Visiting in winter means fewer insects and no box jellyfish, plus plenty of cassowaries and flying foxes.

Spring in Cairns (September – November)

Spring in Cairns (September – November) Snorkeling In Sea At Great Barrier Reef, Orange-fin anemonefish swims through the stinging tentacles of a sea anemone, heart-shaped reef
Photo| Snorkeling In Sea At Great Barrier Reef, Orange-fin anemonefish swims through the stinging tentacles of a sea anemone, heart-shaped reef| GETTYIMAGES – JOEL SCANLON – EYEEM, STUART WESTMORLAND, GRANT FAINT

Spring, like winter, is part of Cairns’ greater “dry season” and is also the time of year when the trade winds die down. During spring, the ocean boasts a glass-like surface, which means excellent visibility for divers and snorkellers. The water temperature starts to heat up into November, and the Great Barrier Reef experiences coral spawning, which increases the amount of marine life and activity.

These three climate changes make spring the perfect time for visitors to dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. Pleasant temperatures, low rainfall and seabird breeding also give visitors every reason to venture outside to neighbouring islands, where they can soar into the sky on hot-air balloon rides.

Cairns Weather in Spring

Cairns Spring map

5 Most Popular Cairns Hotels in Spring

Southern Cross Atrium Apartments

Southern Cross Atrium Apartments, stay in cairns
Photo| Southern Cross Atrium Apartments| Provided by ICE PORTAL

Southern Cross Atrium Apartments offers luxurious self-catered accommodation next to Cairns Central Shopping Centre, which is why so many HotelsCombined visitors talk about its excellent location for shopping. The wide variety of choices, ranging from studio to one and two-bedroom apartments, accommodates different holiday budgets. Each one boasts air conditioning, king-size beds, private balconies, Wi-Fi and cooking facilities.

Despite being close to many Cairns attractions, including the Esplanade and the HMAS Cairns naval base, Southern Cross Atrium Apartments tempts guests to stay on site with a wealth of facilities. Travellers can unwind in the recreational spa or tropical pool, exercise in the gym or lap pool, or whip up a classic Aussie meal in the landscaped barbeque area.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$85 – A$159
Guest Rating: 7.9
Address: 3-11 Water Street, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Coral Tree Inn Cairns

Coral Tree Inn Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Coral Tree Inn| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Situated across the road from the recently renovated Munro Martin Parklands, Coral Tree Inn Cairns is a charming resort-style hotel filled with landscaped gardens. Self-contained suites sit alongside refurbished standard rooms and family rooms, giving travellers an excellent choice in budget-friendly Cairns accommodation. The self-contained suite boasts a kitchenette, separate main bedroom with ensuite, bar fridge and balcony.

Servicing both business and leisure travellers, Coral Tree Inn Cairns houses conference rooms and a business centre along with a massage and beauty parlour, outdoor pool, on-site restaurant and barbeque facilities. Guests at this hotel need only walk three blocks to reach the dazzling waterfront and marina, where most Great Barrier Reef cruises and diving expeditions depart.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$90 – A$133
Guest Rating: 7.9
Address: 166-172 Grafton Street, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns

Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns| Provided by ICE PORTAL

As the name would suggest, Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns is the city’s premier marina hotel, perfectly positioned for Great Barrier Reef excursions. The hotel is just as spectacular as its surrounding nature. Guest rooms and suites are adorned in rich timber flooring and feature private balconies with views of Marlin Marina, Trinity Bay, tropical gardens or the city. For ultimate luxury, visitors should book a Horizon Club Suite, which includes personalised service and a private lounge with evening drinks and canapes.

The hotel’s five-star status is apparent whether visitors are dining at the on-site waterfront restaurant, North Bar and Kitchen, sipping cocktails at the Poolside Bar or revitalising body and mind in the state-of-the-art gym. Lovebirds can also experience the perfect wedding day at Shangri-La Hotel The Marina Cairns, thanks to a dedicated wedding planning team and sixteen elegant function rooms with breathtaking views.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: A$156 – A$343
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: Pierpoint Road, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Gilligans Backpackers Hotel & Resort

Gilligans Backpackers Hotel & Resort, stay in cairns
Photo| Gilligans Backpackers Hotel & Resort| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Gilligans Backpackers Hotel & Resort is one of the most highly-rated backpacker hotels in Australia. Visitors will find traditional backpacker dorms holding anywhere from four to 10 beds, along with female-only dorms and deluxe dorms with in-room televisions. There’s also private accommodation on the upper levels including triple rooms, twin or king rooms and Deluxe Hotel rooms. Each dorm or room has a private ensuite and air conditioning, while each floor boasts Wi-Fi, communal areas and a fully-equipped kitchen.

Its location and services, such as free airport shuttles and nightly meals for only $4, help travellers save money on accommodation, which can instead be spent on sightseeing and unforgettable Cairns experiences. Those looking for late nights need only walk to the best bars and clubs in Cairns, or partake in one of the hotel’s themed nights at its huge bar by the pool.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: A$21 – A$85
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: 57-89 Grafton Street, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Hides Hotel Cairns

Hides Hotel Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Hides Hotel Cairns| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Another of Cairns’ budget-friendly accommodations, Hides Hotel Cairns is perfectly positioned for visitors looking to explore the reef, Esplanade, shops and neighbouring islands. Housed in a historic building with a spectacular wraparound veranda, the hotel exudes classic charm coupled with modern hotel amenities including a business centre, inviting pool and breakfast restaurant.

The rooms at Hides Hotel Cairns are well appointed with flat-screen TVs, fridges, 24-hour room service and air conditioning. The hotel caters to a range of travellers in its Superior Triple Rooms, Heritage Rooms and Superior Family Rooms. HotelsCombined visitors often praise the hotel’s unique balcony, which offers stunning city views and is a great spot to enjoy the complimentary breakfast, another frequently mentioned highlight.

Star Rating: 3.5*
Price: A$70 – A$117
Guest Rating: 7.0
Address: 87 Lake Street, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Hotel Location

Top Cairns Experiences in Spring

Great Barrier Reef Diving & Snorkelling

diver watching beautiful colorful coral reef with shoal of red fish
Photo| Diver watching beautiful colorful coral reef with school of red fish| SHUTTERSTOCK – TUNATURA

Spring is arguably the best time of year to snorkel and dive the Great Barrier Reef. Visitors can experience perfect visibility on windless days, and warmer temperatures initiate coral spawning, which brings out a frenzy of marine life activity including lobsters, moray eels, sharks and colourful reef fish. September is the best time to visit Osprey Reef and witness hundreds of reef sharks, while October is ideal for watching turtles during their mating and nesting season.

Green Island

Queensland islands Green Island
Photo| View of Green island| GETTYIMAGES – JOHN CARNEMOLLA

Green Island is surrounded by coral reefs and is one of the most picturesque places in Australia. The coral cay is home to rainforests, white-sand beaches and an abundance of marine life. Cruises to Green Island depart from Cairns at regular times throughout the day. Once there, visitors can opt to snorkel and dive the reefs, relax on the beach, trek through the national park and helmet dive. Scenic helicopter flights are also available from Cairns.

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

Aboriginal hunter in outback at sunset,
Photo| Aboriginal hunter| GETTYIMAGES – GRANT FAINT

Whether travellers visit Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park during the day or at night, they will enrichen their understanding of Australia’s Indigenous and Torres Strait Island people. By day, the park showcases incredible culture and history with dance performances, art exhibits and interactive experiences such as boomerang and spear throwing. At night, Dreamtime stories come alive through dancing, music, face painting and intimate storytelling.

Hot-Air Ballooning

Aerial images of hot-air balloons taking off
Photo| Hot-air balloons taking off| SHUTTERSTOCK – KDREAMS

Hot-air ballooning is an unforgettable way of seeing Cairns, the beaches and inland rainforests from above. Flights depart in the morning, giving passengers a 360-degree view of the region including the mesmerising Atherton Tablelands. After touching back down, visitors can partake in games and pick out their favourite in-flight professional photo. There’s also plenty of time for visitors to take their own pictures of the country and coastal landscapes.

Summer in Cairns (December – February)

Summer in Cairns (December – February)
Photo| Stony Coral Colony and soldierfish, Palm Cove in Cairns, a wall at art gallery| GETTYIMAGES -PNIESEN, DARRENTIERNEY, MIRJANAJOVIC

Summer is the beginning of the “wet season” in Cairns, which continues until the end of autumn. Visitors can expect higher temperatures and humidity, but also the region’s largest amount of rainfall. Summer is Cairns’ least popular tourist season, meaning travellers have fewer crowds to contend with and most hotels, tours and attractions lower their prices.

Cairns has various exciting indoor attractions that aren’t affected by the rain including cultural exhibits, a rainforest railway and a giant wildlife enclosure with zip lining and high ropes courses. It is also the best time of year to watch Cairns’ National Basketball League team, the Taipans, play at the Cairns Convention Centre.

Cairns Weather in Summer

Cairns Summer Map

5 Most Popular Cairns Hotels in Summer

Mantra Trilogy

Mantra Trilogy, stay in cairns
Photo| Mantra Trilogy| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Mantra Trilogy is well-positioned for a Cairns summer holiday, within easy walking distance from the beach and the Cairns Lagoon public pool. The highly-regarded hotel is also fitted out with a sparkling lagoon pool overlooking the ocean. When the inevitable summer rain falls, guests can still make it to dinner perfectly dry thanks to the four on-site restaurants. These include The Raw Prawn Australasian-influenced seafood restaurant and Villa Romana, which serves up delicious Mediterranean cuisine.

HotelsCombined visitors can’t say enough great things about the rooms at Mantra Trilogy, particularly the uninterrupted ocean views. It’s possible to admire the spectacular expanse of glistening blues from every room type. However, guests seeking extra opulence should book a one, two or three-bedroom apartment, complete with a full kitchen, private balcony and pay-per-view movies.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: A$93 – A$248
Guest Rating: 7.6
Address: 101-105 The Esplanade, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside

Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside, stay in cairns
Photo| Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside| Provided by LEONARDO

Comfortable and spacious beds are key to any memorable holiday hotel. That is something HotelsCombined visitors say Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside has in spades. The beds might just be the highlight of the guest rooms, which are also blessed with private balconies, a pillow menu, work desks and cosy bathrobes. Interconnecting rooms are available for large groups and there’s a choice of mountain or ocean views.

Business travellers will appreciate the on-site business centre with Wi-Fi, printing and scanning capabilities, as well as the versatile conference venues fitted out with state-of-the-art AV technology. Teshi’s Restaurant is a great spot for local and international cuisine, while the Blue Mango Cafe Wine Bar pairs an extensive wine list with panoramic Trinity Bay vistas.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$109 – A$187
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: 209-217 The Esplanade, Cairns North, Cairns, Australia

Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns

Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns| Provided by ICE PORTAL

The second of three Rydges hotels on this list offers that guaranteed Rydges standard of service, amenities and location. Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns is jam-packed with exciting experiences for all types of travellers. The resort’s three superb swimming pools and separate children’s wet-play area are ideal for those hot sunny days, while the on-site Coral Hedge Brasserie Restaurant & Bar and the spa and sauna provide weatherproof fun and relaxation.

All rooms and apartments are accentuated by heavenly beds, modern furnishings and sunny balconies. Visitors looking for self-catered accommodation with opulent extras will find a temporary home in the Tower Apartments, where full kitchens, laundry facilities and spacious living areas ensure the utmost comfort and convenience. The hotel is also a gateway to the best of Cairns, with the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, Cairns Night Markets and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway all minutes away.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$93 – A$230
Guest Rating: 7.8
Address: 209 – 217 Abbott Street, Cairns North, Cairns, Australia

Bohemia Resort Cairns

Bohemia Resort Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Bohemian Resort Cairns| Provided by BOOKING.COM

It’s important to beat the heat in Cairns during summer, something Bohemia Resort Cairns takes very seriously with its air-conditioned rooms featuring cool tiles, large windows and balconies. When that’s not enough, guests can always dive into the covered, palm-fringed pool with lounges, a 20-person spa and a nearby barbeque area and courtyard.

One of the most budget-friendly resorts in Cairns, it offers considerable value-for-money with daily breakfast included with some rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and excellent staff service. HotelsCombined visitors rave about the hotel’s cleanliness, which caters to families, solos, couples, school groups and more with a collection of standard rooms, superior rooms and self-catered apartments.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$37 – A$66
Guest Rating: 6.6
Address: 231 McLeod Street, Cairns North, Cairns, Australia

Hotel Location

Top Cairns Experiences in Summer

Cairns Regional Gallery

Located near the marina, Cairns Regional Gallery offers comprehensive exhibits of national and international artists. The heritage building is comprised of four showrooms, which display around 30 guest exhibits each year covering paintings, sculptures, photography, prints, installations and Indigenous art. The gallery also hosts art classes and special events such as informative talks. Visitors can purchase artisan gifts, homewares and more from the Gallery Shop.

Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome

A girl climbing on a playground set with blue sky, stay in cairns

Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome is a great day out for all ages, regardless of weather or temperature. Those interested in wildlife can enjoy bird feeding, koala talks, crocodile shows and face-to-face greetings with the animals. There are two high ropes courses of varying difficulty, including one with a zip line over the resident crocodile, Goliath. Visitors can also walk around the outside of the dome enclosure for epic views or brave the 13-metre-high free fall.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Train Passing Through Trees in Kuranda
Photo| Kuranda railway| GETTYIMAGES – KARN BULSUK – EYEEM

Constructed in the late 1800s, Kuranda Scenic Railway transports passengers far into the region’s famous rainforests for an enthralling journey to Kuranda. The ride takes almost two hours and includes English commentary as visitors pass waterfalls, wildlife, 800 different trees, 1,200 different flowering plants, towering mountains and deep ravines. The Gold Class upgrade includes lounges, welcome drinks, local cuisine and an optional tour of the historic Signal Cabin.

Cairns Taipans Basketball Game

Known as “The Snakepit”, the Cairns Convention Centre is home to the Cairns Taipans, one of Australia’s National Basketball League teams. The team features many talented American and Australian players, who have reached the finals twice in the last six seasons. The season typically runs from the beginning of October until the middle of February, not including finals. An avid fan base makes games exciting from start to finish.

Autumn in Cairns (March – May)

Autumn in Cairns (March – May)
Photo|Underwater world with corals and tropical fish, cable car zips through the tropical rainforest of Cairns, southern cassowaries – Daintree national park| SHUTTERSTOCK – V_E, KWANG CHUN GAN, TORSTEN PURSCHE

Autumn sees the end of Cairns’ “wet season” with rainfall reducing significantly between March and May. Temperatures also drop, but remain at a pleasant level ideal for getting outside and exploring natural attractions in Cairns. However, strong winds continue to buffet the coastline, so most visitors stick to water activities closer to shore or land-based experiences such as the surrounding rainforests.

In autumn, visitors still have a few months before Cairns hits its peak tourist season, so hotel and attraction prices remain relatively low, perfect for budget-savvy travellers. Apart from Easter Weekend, there aren’t any significant school holidays with which to contend, so visitors can expect fewer crowds at highly-rated attractions such as Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.

Cairns Weather in Autumn

Cairns Autumn Map

5 Most Popular Cairns Hotels in Autumn

Palm Royale Cairns

Palm Royale Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Palm Royale Cairns| Provided by LEONARDO

Palm Royale Cairns is an inner-city oasis that transports guests into a tropical world of ochre buildings, lush palm trees and gardens, and lagoon-style pool with cascading waterfall and sandy shore. Many of the stylish Mediterranean-inspired guest rooms overlook this tranquil environment, lulling visitors into complete relaxation with king-size beds, an abundance of natural light and balconies that catch the area’s cool breezes.

Guests at Palm Royale Cairns can organise all their sightseeing and North Queensland excursions at the on-site tour desk. HotelsCombined visitors also praise the hotel’s convenient location for shopping, with many of the city’s designer stores and shopping centres nearby.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$58 – A$91
Guest Rating: 7.8
Address: 7-11 Chester Court, Manunda, Cairns, Australia

Inn Cairns Boutique Apartments

Inn Cairns Boutique Apartments, stay in cairns
Photo| Inn Cairns Boutique Apartments| Provided by BOOKING.COM

The self-catered accommodation at Inn Cairns Boutique Apartments has won over numerous travellers with a focus on comfortable and convenient holidays. Each of the 38 air-conditioned apartments is bestowed with a spacious and modern layout that includes a lounge room, dining table, contemporary kitchen, personal laundry, balcony overlooking the city and a separate bedroom with ensuite.

Inn Cairns Boutique Apartments complements the region’s natural spoils with enviable facilities. Hot days can be spent lazing around the pool terrace, which provides lounge seating, a weatherproof gazebo, barbeque and a refreshing pool. Some of the best coastal views in Cairns can be found on site at the hotel’s rooftop terrace, where guests can enjoy breakfast or a casual drink.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$119 – A$132
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: 71 Lake Street, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Mantra Esplanade Cairns

Mantra Esplanade Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Mantra Esplanade| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Located on the waterfront overlooking the marina and Trinity Bay, Mantra Esplanade Cairns provides an ideal base for experiencing the city’s top water-based attractions as well as inner-city restaurants, bars and shops. The popular Cairns Night Markets are also a two-minute walk away. However, this four-star hotel offers more than just a superb location, promoting a life of leisure with its picturesque pool and a swim-up bar.

Visitors have a choice of quaint Hotel Rooms, One-Bedroom Apartments and Two-Bedroom Apartments. Each type of accommodation has comfortable furnishings and sizeable balconies for soaking up the sun and views. The apartments also feature kitchens, laundries and an optional sofa bed. The on-site restaurant, Vivaldis, serves up scrumptious breakfasts and dinners and is open for late-night drinks.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$107 – A$247
Guest Rating: 8.2
Address: 53-57 The Esplanade, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Aspect Central Cairns

The rooms at Aspect Central Cairns are perfect for business or leisure travellers looking to visit Cairns on a budget. The impressive range of accommodation includes the six-person Super Double Suite with two bathrooms, the three-person Kitchenette Studio and the one-person Single Studio Room. Couples may prefer the Executive Spa Suite, which boasts an in-room spa, touch-button lighting and kitchenette.

The motel is home to an abundance of native flora such as wild orchids and fan palms, which, coupled with the outdoor saltwater pool and waterfall, create a welcoming and serene atmosphere. Guests can choose between semi-formal or casual alfresco dining at the on-site restaurant, which dishes up local seafood, international meals and a sumptuous breakfast.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$51 – A$98
Guest Rating: 7.3
Address: 209-211 Sheridan Street, Cairns North, Cairns, Australia

Reef Plaza Cairns

Reef Plaza Hotel Cairns, stay in cairns
Photo| Reef Plaza Hotel Cairns| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Reef Plaza Cairns invites its guests to awake fresh and ready to seize the day, beginning with the hotel’s exclusive RISE breakfast concept, which favours market fresh food such as freshly squeezed juice, made-to-order omelettes, homemade bread and parfaits. The hotel’s prime location, near the Esplanade, Foreshore Promenade, Reef Casino and cruise terminals, also promotes deeper exploration of the city.

Complimentary Wi-Fi and undercover parking go well with the hotel’s rooftop pool, an utterly divine spot with bar service and comfortable loungers. Visitors can be assured a good night’s sleep on the signature Rydges Dream Beds, which are accompanied by soft carpet, work desks and elegant bathrooms. Triple Rooms, Queen Rooms, King Rooms and Junior Suites accommodate a variety of holidaymakers.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: A$111 – A$179
Guest Rating: 7.0
Address: 50 Grafton Street, Cairns CBD, Cairns, Australia

Hotel Location

Top Cairns Experiences in Autumn

AJ Hackett Cairns Bungy Jumping

Bungee jumping over the gorge
Photo| Bungee jumping over the gorge| SHUTTERSTOCK – JULIE119

AJ Hackett has developed a reputation for extreme jumps in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. That reputation is upheld at its 50-metre-high tower in an ancient rainforest, where adrenalin junkies can select from 16 different jump types including backwards, traditional swan or even while riding a BMX. Those who prefer something less intense can ride the Jungle Swing or simply enjoy the spectacular rainforest vistas from the viewing decks.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
Photo| Rainforest Cableway Barron Gorge National Park Queensland| GETTYIMAGES – CHAMELEONSEYE

See Australia’s Heritage-listed tropical rainforests from a different angle while riding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The cableway stretches across the rainforest canopy for about 7.5 kilometres, revealing uninterrupted views of the Coral Sea, Cairns, highlands and rainforest from a six-person gondola. There are three stops along the way including Barron Falls Station and Red Peak Station, where rangers conduct guided boardwalk tours.


Using simple body movements, visitors direct their environmentally-friendly SEABOB Jet through the Coral Sea’s beautiful underwater worlds. No certifications are necessary; just a mask, wetsuit, snorkel and fins. Experienced instructors conduct tours off the coast of Cairns, letting travellers witness the colourful life below the surface. With depth and speed restrictions, this is one of the safest and most family-friendly underwater experiences in Cairns.

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Cropped Hand Feeding Crocodile At Zoo
Photo| Hand Feeding Crocodile At Zoo| GETTYIMAEGS – AIK HONG NG -EYEEM

About 40 minutes north of Cairns sits one of Australia’s best wildlife sanctuaries, home to an array of crocodiles, tropical birds, insects, koalas and more. However, the main reason people visit Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is to see those smiling crocs in their natural habitat. Feeding cruises on the lagoon give visitors an up-close look at crocodiles as they launch out of the water to snatch their dinner from the air.

When will you visit Cairns?

Cairns is a year-round destination and a favourite for both Australian and international visitors. The city is a gateway to many natural landmarks including centuries-old rainforests, dreamy beaches and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef.

Although not every season is ideal for certain experiences, each Cairns hotel comes with a wealth of on-site activities and conveniences that aren’t affected by the weather. Many of the most popular hotels in Cairns occupy idyllic positions on the Cairns Esplanade, a major entertainment and cultural hub. HotelsCombined visitors also favour the hotels with self-catered options, large pools, kid-friendly facilities, private balconies and air conditioning.

Clearly finding an affordable and memorable hotel isn’t the issue for a Cairns holiday, but rather deciding what season best suits visitors’ travel aspirations.

When are you planning to visit Cairns and what do you hope to experience? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Visit Cairns
  2. Cairns & The Great Barrier Reef
  3. Cairns Taipans
  4. Weather in Cairns
  5. Dive Seasons In Cairns


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1 thought on “Where to Stay in Cairns: The Ultimate Seasonal Travel Guide”

  1. Few years ago when my mum turned 60 i prepared 60 surprises for her for 60 days of her stay here in Australia. Cairns was one of the destinations where it was pretty easy for me to come up with a brand new surprise every single day.
    We went there in February which is pretty much the beginning of wet season but it worked out well for us as it only rained at night and there were less tourists around.
    One of the surprises was to stay at the luxurious Shangri La Hotel, it’s about 5 mins walk form the beach and is a proper stunner. The view to the marina is amazing, especially when the night lights are on. We rented a one bedroom apartment for about $250 a night, the staff were friendly and attentive we really loved our stay there and were spoiled rotten:)
    The top of our stay in Cairns was when I took her to this helicopter joyride to this sand cay in the Great Barrier Reef, the spot was so amazing i got tears in my eyes as i couldn’t digest so much beauty right at that moment.
    I’d like to go back again but maybe in spring, I heard the visibility for snorkelling is way much better then.

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