This city is the Gateway to the GREAT BARRIER REEF, one of the world´s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders, and that´s were I spent around 10 hours underwater on a 5 day DIVING TRIP @ the Cod Hole feeding Potato Cod fish and Sharks with www.Taka.com.au
The NIGHTLIFE is also a highlight in Cairns, since it´s a hub for backpackers that fly in or come with their camper vans from trips around Australia, and stay from 1 day to a month, for parting, diving, and even working.
I stayed @ the GILLIGANS backpackers what Lonley Plannet guide (www.lonelyplanet.com) correctly describes as "the Ritz of the Hostels". The place is amazing by day (with Barbecue deck, pool, guest kitchens and tour desk) & by night (with bar and club). I made great friends there and we had dinner parties every night.
The dorms of up to 8 people are all girls, all boys or mix. There is also the option of being in a single room (as being in a hotel) and since the location is exceptional (4 blocks from everything) this is an option of all type of travelers. See this site for the virtual tour of this amazing hostel www.gilligansbackpackers.com.au
The permanent fresh fruit market downstairs is the best way to save on self-made MEALS, but the Marinara Pasta for AU$ 11.90 @ the Gilligans coffee shop is a bargain for a good meal, and the special 5 drinks for AU$ 10 @ the bar is unbeatable.
Cairns due to Mangroves (mud swamps) has no BEACHES downtown. That make the LAGOON
(the man made beach at the Esplanade) the place to be and be seen, unless you take a bus for 30+minutes north to find the various beaches for all tastes.
I also adventured north to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, where there is the most ancient RAIN FOREST botanic specimens in the world, with over 200 million years.
The hike of the Sorrow mountain took over 5 hours (return) but that was really a site worth the trip. Thank you Sam for this invitation!
Now (August 7th) I leave to Beijin, for the Olympics, but I will miss this beautiful part of the earth! Australia I LOVE YOU!!!