Where to stay in Cairns?

Where to stay in Cairns?

This was my question: where to stay in Cairns? Should I stay in Cairns because it’s bigger? Or by the beach at the Cairns Northern Beaches Palm Cove, Kewarra Beach and Yorkeys Knob? Or Should I go to Port Douglas 1 hour north of Cairns which might be the best location for our family holiday: Cairns, Port Douglas or the Cairns Northern Beaches?

Initially, I thought Port Douglas or Port as the locals call it. Smaller, laid-back resort town and US President Bill Clinton holidayed here, so it must be good, and it was only one hour more to travel from Cairns. Port Douglas has a popular Sunday market; you can also go to the Great Barrier Reef from there. Port Douglas is famous for 5star Resorts & Spas and I liked the idea being close to Daintree Rainforest.

All this was undoubtedly a plus. Like Noosa in S.E. Queensland, the main street Macrossan Street is famous for upmarket boutiques and 5star restaurants. And then there is Four Mile Beach. So my kid could enjoy swimming there. No wonder Port Douglas population can double during the months of May to October!

Northern Beaches, Cairns or Port Douglas?

Still my question: should I stay in Port Douglas or Cairns? Initially, I thought to stay in Cairns, but it may be a bit too noisy and developed with a population of 140.000 people. I wanted somewhere smaller with less commercialism, less development, no high rises and less mass tourism. But the drawcard for Cairns is that everything is there and has options to suit all budgets. Countless resorts, backpacker hostels, Cafes and restaurants, lots of shopping for souvenirs and easy access for tours. The Casino is here if that is your thing and big shopping centres to get anything you need, and tour agencies all through the centre of Cairns. Also, I wanted to go to Kuranda, which was close and convenient from Cairns, unfortunately, has no beach at all in Cairns, just mudflats. There are the beautiful boardwalk and the massive lagoon pool with lifeguards which is free and offers loads of activities like Muddy’s playground, the new Aquarium, volleyball courts, markets and lots of festivals.

Cairns Northern Beaches

My last choice was the Cairns Northern Beaches I looked at. 3 Cairns beaches; Palm Cove, Kewarra Beach and Yorkeys Knob beach. Palm Cove, 30 minutes north of Cairns, great resort feel, vibrant shops, restaurants and beautiful beaches. I felt maybe a little bit too resort-styled. The next: Kewarra Beach, also lovely and quiet, but about 25 minutes north of Cairns and then Yorkeys Knob 15 minutes from Cairns.

Yorkeys Knob Beach

It was Yorkeys Knob or Yorkeys as the locals call it, I finally decided on. Everyone has different needs but we liked the closeness to Cairns being on the doorstep of Cairns but out of the hustle and bustle of Cairns. Going to the Reef was easy, they just picked us up at our accommodation, and if we needed to do shopping, it was just the local bus into Cairns or 5minutes walk to the local shops. What we were most drawn to was the naturalness of the beach. 3 km of beautiful beach to explore and the rainforest that surrounded our holiday accommodation that ended up choosing for it. The laidback village feels where everybody said hello to us, the little Cafes and the fantastic Boat Yacht Marina with meals overlooking the ocean.

But most of all it is why we came to Australia in the first place not to stay in a city, not a resort, but to feel the environment really. I like to wake up to the chorus of birds living in the rainforest and watching huge butterflies float by.

We ended up with the best of all worlds, more affordable accommodation, meant we could spend more on seeing all the things we came for like seeing the Great Barrier Reef. Easy access to all Cairns has to offer, a more local experience, natural, more peaceful environment and a great beach.


Travel writer Yvonne Otto www.letssharedreams.com