1. Active Living Program
Are you up for some Zumba Fitness or Qigong Yoga? How about rock climbing or beach volleyball? Pilates or meditation? Cairns Regional Council provides free exercise and wellbeing group classes on the Cairns Esplanade. Visit the Esplanade website to find class activity information and timetables for the next classes.
2.Art and Sculptures
The Esplanade is dotted with impressive public artworks, sculptures and historical markers – many of them are Insta-worthy selfie spots too!
Babinda Boulders is a popular swimming spot and picnic area amid tropical rainforest in the foothills of the Bellenden Ker Range approx. one hour south of Cairns.
On the Cairns Esplanade, three international standard courts are available for anyone to use – just bring your own ball!
Cairns has some of the most stunning coastline in Queensland with many beaches that are Lifeguard patrolled for safety (note: stinger season generally runs from November to May when it is highly recommended that swimmers only swim within stinger nets).
6.Bouldering Park (rock climbing)
The Bouldering Park, which offers rock climbing at low heights, on the Cairns Esplanade is open every day and is suitable for novice to experienced rock climbers.
7.Cairns Botanic Gardens & Conservatory
The Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct showcases Tropical North Queensland’s indigenous species and tropical plants from across the globe. Don’t miss the Conservatory which houses an impressive collection of palms, bromeliads, cycads, aquatic plants, orchids and carnivorous plants.
8.Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
One of Cairns most popular attractions year-round, the waterfront lagoon is Lifeguard patrolled and surrounded by landscaped gardens and free BBQ’s.
9.Cattana Wetlands Environmental Park
The 80-hectare Cattana Wetlands nature conservation park at Smithfield is home to a wealth of bird and plant life and a boardwalk through fern palm forest.
Walking trails, landscaped parklands, boardwalks, birdwatching and the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden on the banks of Freshwater Lake make Centenary Lakes a relaxing and cool place to enjoy nature and the cultural heritage of Cairns.
11.Crystal Cascades Park
This secluded freshwater swimming hole, hidden in a tropical rainforest, includes a series of small waterfalls and rockpools shaded by forest along with a gentle walking trail, picnic tables and electric BBQ’s.
Cairns has an extensive network of walking paths, bike tracks and cycleways across the city. For mountain bikers Smithfield Mountain Bike Park is world class.
13.Heritage Walking Trails
Download the free maps and take one of five heritage trails around Cairns city and surrounds. Further afield, take the Southern Heritage Drive, a journey of approx. 180km that explores Cairns sugarcane history.
14.Jack Barnes Mangrove Boardwalk
Inspired by well-known marine biologist Jack Barnes’ interest in box jellyfish and the mangrove environment, the Mangrove Boardwalk offers a safe and intimate view of a living breathing mangrove forest.
Lake Morris Road is a steep but scenic road that winds up through the range west of Cairns. A popular training route for runners and cyclists, the views of Cairns and the islands beyond are the reward. At the top the rewards are even better with BBQ’s and picnic tables overlooking Lake Morris a great spot for a casual lunch.
Across the city there are eight libraries offering a wide range of books, magazines and newspapers, DVDs, and audio books along with free internet access and wi-fi.
Local markets are a terrific place to meet some locals and soak up the atmosphere of Cairns. The Esplanade Markets are held each Saturday near the Lagoon while other markets are held in various parts of the city and surrounds, such as Atherton, Kuranda, Malanda, Mareeba, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.
18.Mt Whitfield Conservation Park
Some of Cairns best (and challenging) walking/running tracks, The Red, Blue, Green and Yellow Arrow Trails wind though the 300ha park with terrain varying from smooth bitumen to forest trails.
19.Parks and Parklands
With hundreds of parks and reserves across Cairns and surrounds, there are countless opportunities to explore hidden trails and treasures. Use Cairns Regional Council’s Parks Finder to search by facility or location to find a great park.
With inverted cradle and various other skate elements, the Skate Park on the Esplanade is adjacent to the Beach Volleyball courts.
21.Stoney Creek & Glacier Rock Walking Track
The Glacier Rock trailhead starts from Rainforest Estate, gradually winding upwards through forest, along some switchbacks that offer views across Cairns and the islands beyond and ending on the top of a craggy rockface high above the city.
22.Tanks Art Centre
The Tanks hosts local, national and international musicians and theatrical productions and includes an art gallery housed inside restored WWII oil tanks (entrance fees may apply).