Cairns: Queensland, Australia

We found ourselves in Cairns a bit unexpectedly, but we’re happy we got to check it out. Cairns is the largest city in North Queensland and the gateway to many breathtaking adventures. It is located 1800 kms north of the states capital city of Brisbane and has an international airport for travelling convenience.

While we stuck mainly to the city for our one week stay we still found a ton of things to do for free with our girls. This made up for the hotel expense.

Some of the main free things that filled our days:

  • Swam in the lagoon (public swimming pool next to the ocean)
  • Multiple playgrounds
  • Spray park to cool down
  • Walked the night market
  • People watched on the streets and checked out the lights
  • Walked the boardwalk – in the day to see the mud flats and pelicans – night to see the ferris wheel and paths all lit up.

Each and every morning I would get up early and jog along the beach. There was an amazing 2.5 km long boardwalk with outdoor workout stations along the way. There was also an abundance of toilets and water fountains everywhere you looked. This was a huge bonus when jogging in the heat and humidity.

While we had a pool at our hotel, the lagoon seemed more inviting. It overlooks the ocean and has everything to offer. There is a sandy beach leading into the water, an infinity edge to the oceanview, a spray park area and even a few shade covers along the edges to stay out of the sun.

Most evenings we would walk down to the night market and eat with food stalls for every desire. The huge ferris wheel was lit up continuously calling out to the girls. We finally caved and went for a ride and took in the city lights at night. Definitely a must do if you like heights. The down town waterfront is constantly booming with tourists and everything that caters to them. Backpacker bars sit next to burger joints and every restaurants has a daily special that is always teasing you as you walk by.

One of the things we did splurge on was a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel and dive. Our girls worked pretty hard learning how to swim while we were in Airlie Beach and had a goal to be able to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, so we felt we should honour that.

We boarded the boat first thing in the morning and was greeted with a bacon and egg sandwich breakfast to start the day off right.

After a two hour ride we arrived at the outer reef where we tied off to a mooring ball and got things started.

Both girls were super excited, suited up in their mini stinger suits and water-wings then headed over to the swim platform. Tyson was already in the water so Lidija quickly put on her mask and snorkel and I helped her slip on her fins and away she went. Bexley kind of froze once on the swim platform. She started to get cold feet and even had a little cry saying she didn’t want to go. I knew deep down she was just unsure of what to expect which was the reason she was reacting the way she was. I jumped in the water and convinced her to sit down and I got her fins on. At this point she was still upset not wanting to come in. Another few minutes of talking and with her mask and snorkel in position I pulled her into the water and she immediately clung to me as well as the pool noodle but was in awe. We swam over to meet up with Tyson and Lidija who were already taking in all the cool parrot fish on the reef. The girls were so excited to finally be able to snorkel around and see all the amazing underwater creatures. A white-tipped reef shark even decided to make an appearance as well.

Tyson and I also enjoyed a 60-minute dive each staggered between snorkelling and lunch and all these experiences built up to create for an amazing Great Barrier Reef experience.

While we knew there was plenty of tours to do in and around Cairns, we were enjoying the down time and space for the girls to run freely outdoors, so didn’t get up to doing any of these. We were also planning our next move so were a bit consumed by that for the week we were there.

If you plan on taking some tours outside of Cairns have a look into Mossman Gorge and Daintree to the north as well as the Atherton Tablelands with its amazing waterfall tours to the south of the city.

The next plan became Bali. Stay tuned for our next post of our budget with kids in Bali.

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