Where to Stay in Cairns for Tourists in 2022

Once you’ve decided to take a trip to Far North Queensland, one of the first questions you’ll be asking is where to base yourself.

As a major tourist city there is a huge choice of holiday accommodation in Cairns that can mostly be found in two main locations: the CBD/Esplanade or the northern beaches of Cairns.

We’ll explain the benefits of staying in each of these areas and recommend some great accommodation options at a variety of price points.

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Best Area to Stay in Cairns for Tourists

We’ve identified two main best areas to stay in Cairns: the central Cairns area, and the northern beaches of Cairns.

Many of the accommodation options are clustered in the central Cairns area. One of the main reasons to stay in the centre of Cairns is that it is close to many of the attractions such as the Reef Fleet Terminal for trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Aquarium, Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome, and the Cairns Lagoon and Esplanade. Another major reason to stay in the centre of Cairns is that it has accommodation options at all different price brackets – from budget to luxury.

If you’re looking to stay near the beach, your best options are the northern beaches of Cairns, particularly Palm Cove and Trinity Beach. These areas have stunning beaches and a luxury, resort-style vibe with less budget accommodation options available. Stay here for a more glamorous, relaxed experience with heaps of quality cafes and restaurants to choose from.

Map of Cairns Attractions

Check out the below map of Cairns attractions to get a better understanding of where they are located. You can easily zoom in and out, and click on each attraction to see more details without leaving this page.


Cairns CBD Accommodation

The central Cairns area is the best place to stay in Cairns for a short stay or if you want easy access to heaps of attractions, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes.

Another reason to stay in the Cairns CBD is that there are lots of accommodation options at all different price points. The table below has a summary of some great luxury, mid and budget properties.

Hotel Name

Stars

Rating

Price

Top Features

Book

9.4

$$$

Lagoon pool with private beach, day spa, fitness centre, restaurant, rooftop bar

9.2

$$$

Two swimming pools, BBQ area, sauna and fitness centre, underground secure parking

8.6

$$

Swimming pool, children's playground, poolside breakfast room, tour desk, free parking

9.7

$

Dorm and queen rooms available, communal rooftop lounge with amazing views, free wifi

9.2

$

Award winning hostel, dorm and private rooms available, air conditioning, free wifi,  2 x shared kitchens and laundry

Crystalbrook Riley

Crystalbrook Riley is an outstanding Cairns CBD accommodation option. It is one of three Crystalbrook luxury lifestyle hotels in Cairns – Riley, Bailey and Flynn. They share many similarities but each has its own distinct personality and unique characteristics.

Crystalbrook Riley is in an excellent location at the northern end of the waterfront Esplanade and is less than one kilometre (o.6 miles) from many top attractions such as the Night Markets, the Esplanade Lagoon, the Cairns Museum as well as the Cairns Central Shopping Centre.


The hotel is fantastic for both families and couples. Crystalbrook Riley has 311 rooms and suites, most of which have balconies. There are family rooms which are for up to 6 people, as well as Suites, King and Twin rooms which are for up to a maximum of 3 people. Urban, resort and sea views are available. The rooms are loaded with amenities such as iPad control centres, Smart TVs, video streaming services, and Nespresso coffee machines.

There are plenty of facilities to enjoy including a very popular lagoon pool and private beach, a day spa, fitness centre, a restaurant called Paper Crane with a modern Asian menu, and a rooftop bar with spectacular views of Cairns and the Coral Sea.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.


Vision Apartments

If you’re looking for accommodation with spacious living rooms, fully equipped gourmet kitchens and laundry facilities, look no further than Vision Apartments. It’s in an excellent location as it’s only a short walk from lots of attractions.

Vision Apartments has a range of apartments from single bedroom up to three bedrooms which include balconies. A sub-penthouse and penthouse are also available. There are a variety of views available depending on which apartment you choose including city or mountain range views, Esplanade or garden views, as well as views over the Coral Sea.

As a guest, there are lots of facilities to enjoy including 2 swimming pools, a BBQ area, a sauna and fitness centre, underground secure parking, a visitor lounge and tour desk.

Click here for more information about Vision Apartments and the latest prices.


Cairns Plaza Hotel

Cairns Plaza Hotel is located right on the Esplanade. As with Crystalbrook Riley and Vision Apartments, Cairns Plaza Hotel is in a great central location which makes it easy to walk around town and visit many attractions. For example, it’s just 600 metres (0.36 miles) from the Cairns Night Markets and 700 metres (0.43 miles) from the Esplanade Lagoon.

It offers a mix of standard double rooms, studios, and suites (each for up to 4 people). All room types have balconies with a mix of city and mountain. Rooms with sea views are also available.

Cairns Plaza Hotel has an outdoor swimming pool and there is also a children’s playground. There was a restaurant at the hotel but it is currently closed. However, guests can enjoy a full tropical breakfast at the poolside breakfast room. The hotel has a 24 hour reception, a tour desk and free parking is also available.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.


Global Backpackers Cairns

Global Backpackers is a terrific budget accommodation option right in the heart of Cairns – opposite Cairns Esplanade Lagoon and right beside the Cairns Night Markets. If you want to be in easy walking distance from heaps of attractions, restaurants, shops and nightlife it’s a great place to stay.

This hostel offers a choice of either dormitory room accommodation (4 to 10 beds) or queen rooms. Dormitory rooms are available either with shared bathrooms or ensuite bathrooms. The queen rooms have ensuites and some of them even have a balcony with views over the Coral Sea. Each room type has air conditioning and fans.


Global Backpackers has plenty of facilities which makes it great value. There is an awesome communal rooftop deck and lounge which overlooks the Coral Sea, free public wifi throughout the hostel as well as shared kitchen and laundry facilities. A travel desk is also available which offers advice on activities and tours. To save you money Global Backpackers has teamed up with food venues around town for partner venue meal deals.

For great value in an unbeatable location, Global Backpackers is a top choice.

Click here for more information on Global Backpackers and the latest prices.


Travellers Oasis

Travellers Oasis has been awarded the best hostel in Australia five years in a row by Hostelworld, a leading online travel agency specialising in hostels. It’s also rated #1 of 34 hostels in Cairns by TripAdvisor.

It’s centrally located in the Cairns CBD in a quiet, relaxed and safe area which is a 10 minute walk from the Esplanade. Travellers Oasis has extremely convenient access to a major shopping location with Cairns Central Shopping Centre just a 3 minute walk away. It is close to a variety of bars and restaurants such as the Green Ant Cantina. Travellers Oasis is also a short stroll to many attractions such as Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome, the Cairns Museum and Rusty’s Markets.

It’s a boutique hostel in a lush tropical setting where only 50 guests can stay at a time. Travellers Oasis has a mix of three, four and six bed dormitories. There are also single, twin and double rooms available. All rooms have personal safes, ceiling fans and coin-operated air-conditioning. Private rooms also have their own television and fridge. Deluxe double rooms additionally have access to 1500 movies via a hard drive. The dormitories and rooms access shared bathrooms.


Travellers Oasis has lots of facilities available including two fully equipped kitchens and laundry, a beautiful pool with sun deck and hammocks, a BBQ area, free wifi throughout the hostel, and a full tour and travel information desk. Discounted restaurant meal and drink vouchers are also available.

If you’re looking for quality budget accommodation, be sure to check out Travellers Oasis.

Click here for more information on Travellers Oasis and the latest prices.


Palm Beach Accommodation

If you’re searching for a luxurious and relaxed beachside holiday experience, choose Palm Cove over the Cairns CBD. Start with the stunning Palm Cove Beach, a 2 kilometre stretch of soft, golden sand lined and shaded by palm and paperbark (melaleuca) trees. Add in plenty of high quality cafes, bars and restaurants featuring many different cuisines. Top it off with the fact that Palm Cove is considered one of the spa capitals of Australia and you have an ideal destination for a romantic couple’s getaway.


Palm Cove also works really well as a location for a family holiday. Many of the accommodation providers in Palm Cove offer apartments as well as rooms. Some of the great family experiences that Palm Cove offers include: beach fun, fishing at the jetty, playing at the children’s playground, or having a BBQ.

There are also plenty of family water sport options such as kayaks, paddleboards and jet skis for everyone. For more family fun don’t forget to chill out at a resort or walk or bike ride along the esplanade. Finish off with family-friendly food options such as smoothies and juices at Chill at Portofino, fish and chips at Pete’s Place or enjoy a meal at the Surf Club.

Sunrise at Palm Cove Jetty
Sunrise at Palm Cove Jetty

If you want a shorter stay or wish to be close to attractions stay in the centre of Cairns. But if you want a longer, more stylish and slower-paced experience for either couples or families, check out Palm Cove. From Palm Cove, If you want to visit nearby locations such as Kuranda and attractions such as Cairns Aquarium or Hartley’s Wildlife Park you’ll need a hire car. Otherwise, you can join a tour which includes transfers to the attraction or use a shuttle service such as Beep Beep Toot.

Here’s a sample of some of the best Palm Cove resorts. Unlike the centre of Cairns, Palm Cove is light on for budget accommodation options. Most of the places to stay are 4 and 5 star properties.

Hotel Name

Stars

Rating

Price

Top Features

Book

9.0

$$$

Iconic boutique hotel. Rooms, suites, apartments and villa. Heaps of facilities and experiences on offer

8.9

$$$

Luxury resort with direct beach access. One to four bedroom apartments. Great facilities including award-winning restaurant and day spa.

9.0

$$

Wonderful tropic resort with 4 and 5 star apartments. Three swimming pools.

The Reef House Palm Cove

The Reef House is an iconic boutique hotel with an interesting history. It was built in 1958 before being purchased by Brigadier David Thomson in 1972. He ran the Reef house as a private residence with visitors treated as personal guests. He added wings to the house for the many guests that he entertained until it eventually became a hotel. His military background meant that some traditions were established that were similar to an officer’s mess. For example, guests were able to help themselves to drinks from the bar and signed chits for them based on an honesty system. Guests also gathered at twilight for a complimentary rum punch before dinner. These quirky and interesting traditions continue to this day at the Brigadier’s Bar (including an honesty bar system).

The Reef House Palm Cove is set in the middle of Williams Esplanade just across the road from Palm Cove Beach. Its central location on the Esplanade means it’s surrounded by boutique shopping, cafes, bars and restaurants.

The Reef House has a very relaxed and laid back feel. The aesthetic is like the love-child of Mediterranean and British-colonial styles. It has 67 rooms and suites with a mix of accommodation types to suit everyone. It has studios, rooms and suites with varying levels of features and views. Villas and apartments are also available with living rooms and fully equipped kitchens.


There are heaps of amenities and facilities to enjoy at The Reef House. It has two separate swimming pools, a jacuzzi, a Japanese-style outdoor spa, a poolside dining menu, a library and a fantastic restaurant. There is also a superb day spa, free wifi throughout, and a range of activities and experiences. Activities and experiences offered include cocktail classes, wine and digestive tasting, beachfront yoga, and aqua aerobics. You can even borrow a bicycle or fishing rod.

Make sure you check out The Reef House and discover why it’s won heaps of awards including a 2022 Trip Advisor ‘Best of the Best’ Travellers’ Choice Award.

Click here for more information on The Reef House Palm Cove and the latest prices.


Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore

Most accommodation on Williams Esplanade in Palm Cove is across the road from Palm Cove Beach. Because of its position right at the southern end of the Esplanade, Alamanda Palm Cove is an absolute beachfront property so it has direct beach access without the need to cross a road. You can step straight out of the resort directly on to the soft, golden sand of Palm Cove Beach.


Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore is an award winner having ranked in the top 5 hotels in Australia in the 2016 Trip Advisors Travellers Choice Awards so you can be assured of a luxury experience. The resort has a range of one to four bedroom apartments that are all very spacious compared to many holiday apartments. The apartments have ensuites and a second bathroom, as well as a dining & lounge area, a fully equipped kitchen with a Nespresso coffee machine, and a laundry. The apartments have either a balcony or terrace overlooking the pool or ocean depending on which room you book.

The resort has three saltwater swimming pools in a spectacular tropical setting. Nu Nu Restaurant and Bar in the resort is a multiple-award winner with a relaxed beachfront outlook. Alamanda Palm Cove also has a day spa, a kid-friendly pool zone and games room, as well as free wifi.

For a relaxed and luxurious experience in an unbeatable location be sure to have Alamanda Palm Cove high on your list when deciding where to stay in Palm Cove.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.


Oasis at Palm Cove

Oasis at Palm Cove is a 2 minute walk from Palm Cove Beach and the southern end of Williams Esplanade. There are heaps of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants just a short stroll away from the resort.

The resort offers a mix of 4-star one to three bedroom apartments and 5-star apartments are also available. The apartments are spacious and air-conditioned. They have fully equipped kitchens, a lounge area and balcony or terrace. The apartments offer either garden, pool or mountain views depending on which apartment booked.


Oasis at Palm Cove has plenty of amenities and facilities to enjoy. The resort offers three swimming pools set in lush tropical grounds where you might spot Ulysses butterflies, bush turkeys, kookaburras, parrots and other animals. Oasis also has a spa, BBQ facilities, and if you’re feeling sporty you can enjoy a hit of tennis. There is free private parking as well as free wifi throughout the resort.

Oasis at Palm Cove is a perfect place to unwind.

Click here for more information about Oasis at Palm Cove and find out the latest prices.


Trinity Beach Accommodation

If you want a chilled and friendly beachside experience in a quieter setting, consider the suburb of Trinity Beach over Palm Cove. Its beach is set between two headlands, features soft golden sand and is tree-fringed just like Palm Cove Beach.

Trinity Beach is a relaxed seaside village with many of the attributes of Palm Cove but on a smaller scale. This isn’t surprising given its resident population is a quarter of its bigger Palm Cove cousin.

Trinity Beach’s accommodation options can cater for anything from indulgent and luxurious experiences to family-style getaways. It has a small number of fantastic eateries covering a range of cuisines but you can also enjoy a self-catered beachfront BBQ. Trinity Beach also has its own day spa.

Hotel Name

Stars

Rating

Price

Top Features

Book


9.3

$$$

Fantastic location right beside Trinity Beach. Hillside location provides fantastic views over the Coral Sea. Superb infinity pool.

9.3

$$$

Complex is right beside the beach. All apartments have ocean views. Beautiful outdoor swimming pool and covered spa in lush tropical gardens.

8.7

$$

Resort in a quiet location a couple of streets back from waterfront right beside the namesake lagoon. Heated infinity pool.

9.2

$$

Located in the middle of Vasey Esplanade right beside Trinity Beach. One to four bedrooms available. Saltwater pool and tropical gardens.

You can enjoy much of the same family-friendly fun as is available in Palm Cove. Also, Palm Cove is just a short 10-minute drive away if you’re looking for more action.


Vue Apartments Trinity Beach

As its name suggests, if stunning 180-degree views over the Coral Sea are a major priority, then Vue Trinity Beach is the place for you. It’s set on a hilltop which overlooks the Trinity Beach esplanade and everything has been designed to take advantage of its superb location including the infinity pool which seems to meld into the Coral Sea.


Vue Apartments Trinity Beach are positioned on the northern end of the waterfront Vasey Esplanade which means it has quick and easy access to both Trinity Beach Tavern and a number of other restaurants.

The property offers luxury one to four bedroom apartments and penthouse apartments. The 35 spacious apartments have balconies with stunning views over the Cora Sea. All apartments have gourmet kitchens, full laundries, 2 bathrooms, Smart TVs, air-conditioning and ceiling fans.

Apart from the incredible infinity pool, there are 2 outdoor gazebos with BBQ facilities, a tour desk, a visitor’s lounge, secure undercover parking, complementary use of Coast Fitness, and free wifi. Transfers to and from Cairns Airport can also be arranged.

For stunning views and luxury apartments, look no further than Vue Apartments.

Click here for more information on Vue Apartments Trinity Beach and the latest prices.


Sea Change Beachfront Apartments

The award-winning Sea Change Beachfront Apartments are located on the southern end of Vasey Esplanade just across the road from Trinity Beach. The Trinity Beach tavern and a number of restaurants are within a 5 minute walk of the apartments.

Sea Change Beachfront Apartments have 23 expansive apartments at their property. The apartments range in size from one bedroom to four bedrooms on either the ground, upper or roof deck levels. All apartments have either terraces or balconies and views over the glorious Coral Sea. Features include spacious living and dining areas, gourmet kitchens, two bathrooms, laundries and air conditioning.


Sea Change Beachfront Apartments has an outdoor swimming pool and a covered spa set in a lush tropical landscaped garden. The apartment complex also has a tour desk, a barbeque area, free wifi and secure parking.

For a laid-back luxury experience in Trinity Beach, Sea Change Beachfront Apartments is a great choice.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.


Blue Lagoon Resort

Blue Lagoon Resort is set a couple of streets back from the waterfront. It’s just a short 4-minute walk to the waterfront. The complex takes its name after the large lagoon that is right beside it.

Blue Lagoon Resort has range of luxury self-catered apartments that vary in size from studio apartments up to three bedroom apartments. The studio apartments have a kitchenette and a spacious balcony. The larger apartments have spacious living and dining area, well-equipped kitchens, air conditioning, a laundry, and patios or balconies.


The complex has two swimming pools including a heated infinity pool that looks over the lagoon with mountains in the background. A full size tennis court is also available, as well as a gym, a tour desk, and free parking and wifi.

Blue Lagoon Resort is a fantastic option if you are looking for a bit of luxury and plenty of amenities in a relaxed setting.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.


Sea Point on Trinity Beach

Sea Point on Trinity Beach is located in the middle of Vasey Esplanade. Trinity Beach is just across the road and a number of restaurants are just a short walk away.

Sea Point on Trinity Beach has a range of classic, deluxe and penthouse apartments varying in size from one bedroom up to four bedrooms. There is elevator access to all floors. All apartments have kitchen and laundry facilities, air conditioning as well as patios or balconies. There are views of the mountains, pool, gardens or sea views depending on the apartment booked.


Sea Point is set in lush, tropical Balinese-style gardens. It has a resort-style saltwater pool, a children’s wading pool, BBQ facilities, a tour desk, undercover parking as well as free wifi.

For a relaxing holiday in an excellent location, Sea Point on Trinity Beach is a terrific choice.

Click here for more information about Sea Point on Trinity Beach and the latest prices.


Where to stay in Cairns for tourists

Join the Great Barrier Reef Travel Planning Facebook Group

Check out our Great Barrier Reef Travel Planning Facebook Group – you are welcome to join and it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your Great Barrier Reef trip, including gateway towns and what to do on land!

Great Barrier Reef Travel Planning Facebook Group - Website Version

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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