Cairns Waterfront

Cairns Waterfront: Your 2024 Local Guide

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Cairns Waterfront

From peaceful parks to slow cruises, discover the top spots along Cairns Waterfront with this guide!

Cairns Esplanade Directions

Cairns waterfront has long been known for its vast expanse of mud flats. The section of the Cairns waterfront known as the Esplanade, stretches from Fogarty Park in the south to all the way past the Cairns Hospital in the north.

The local council has added sand to the northern end of the Esplanade, which they replenish from time to time. However, the mudflats remain as distinctive as ever.

The Esplanade
The Esplanade

Cairns Esplanade Parking

Council provides off-street car parks all along the Esplanade and south to the port. This includes additional blocks of parking bays within the Esplanade at strategic locations (such as the Pirate Ship playground).

Cairns Esplanade Directions

Cairns Waterfront – Things to do

Along the Esplanade there are green expanses, as well as many picnic benches, BBQs, exercise equipment, climbing wall, volleyball courts and even a skate park. Indeed there have been numerous improvements to the Esplanade over the years.

Cairns Waterfront Pool

However, the most significant and well patronised of all the improvements to the area is the Cairns Lagoon. Indeed the lagoon is popular with locals and tourists alike and has good disability access located at the southern end of the facility.

Even on the hot days of Summer, Esplanade Lagoon Pool provides a cool and refreshing escape. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the waterfront harbor from here.

The toddlers’ end of the pool is also a great place for young children to have some fun. However, for the babies and toddlers, they will need to be in a swim nappy to be able to swim here.

Cairns waterfront lagoon
Cairns Waterfront Lagoon

Cairns Esplanade Water Park

Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart, Muddy’s Playground is the perfect place to relax. This waterfront park features active, passive, interactive and educational facilities for young children with a combination of play equipment including:

  • Water play areas
  • Flying fox
  • Sound chimes
  • Rope bridge
  • Slides
  • Mouse wheel
  • Play houses
  • See-saw
  • Trick track
  • Puzzle games

Cairns Waterfront Shops

There are many shops along the waterfront. They include cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, hotels and other shops and businesses, many of which are focussed on the tourism industry.

Cairns Waterfront Restaurants

There are many good restaurants on the waterfront. Whether it is on the Esplanade or further south near the Reef Fleet Terminal there is heaps to choose from.

Indeed the Urban List has done a review that should prove helpful when you are deciding where to dine out in Cairns.

cairns waterfront restaurants
Cairns Waterfront Restaurants

Cairns Port and Wharves

The Cairns Port is the other area where the city meets the water. It is an important part of the Cairns waterfront. Consequently, this area is controlled by the Cairns Port Authority. However, the area close to the Esplanade is predominantly used for restaurants, bars and cafes.

Indeed the original Cairns wharves were constructed in the late 19th century on the banks of the Trinity Inlet. They were subsequently concreted in 1910.

Now heritage listed, Cairns wharves remain largely in place. However, this follows the re-adaptive use of number 3 wharf shed as the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal.

Cruise Liner Terminal
Cruise Liner Terminal

Cairns Waterfront Apartments

The Cairns Waterfront is home to numerous towers of luxury apartments. The original ‘Old Queenslanders’ and cottages have largely been bulldozed by opportunistic business people looking to make money.

Some of the new apartments are very nice, but lack ‘tropical design’ and stop the beautiful Esplanade breeze making its way into the city heart.

Cairns Waterfront Apartments

Cairns Waterfront and Climate Change

Like most low lying coastal cities, this area is highly vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise. Like much of the Cairns CBD the Cairns waterfront is predicted to be underwater by the end of the century, unless engineering solutions are adopted to protect the area from inundation from sea-level rise.

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