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The best budget-friendly things to do in Cairns

The best budget-friendly things to do in Cairns

In this guide, we're spilling the beans on Cairns' top budget-friendly gems. From lush escapes to crystal-clear waterholes, we've crafted the ultimate roadmap for wallet-friendly adventures. Ready to dive into Cairns without breaking the bank?


What is Cairns known for?

Cairns is famous as the starting point for the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder. It's a tropical city with lush rainforests, outdoor adventures, and a relaxed vibe. The area is known for its indigenous culture and offers a gateway to the underwater world of the reef. Cairns is the perfect spot for an unforgettable tropical getaway.


What’s the best way to explore Cairns?

When it comes to exploring Cairns, there's no better way than hitting the road with your Cheapa Campa. It is more than just a ride; it's your home on wheels, giving you the freedom to cruise at your own pace. Embrace the laid-back Aussie spirit, create unforgettable memories, and make your Cairns adventure epic without breaking the bank. Just pick up your motorhome from our Cheapa Cairns branch, and you’re set!


The best budget-friendly things to do in Cairns

Ready to dive into Cairns without diving into your savings? We've got you covered. Check out the best wallet-friendly adventures Cairns has to offer.


1. Explore the Cairns Esplanade

Ready to soak up some sun and sea? Cairns Esplanade is your go-to spot. This 2.5-kilometer stretch offers stunning views of Trinity Inlet, making it the perfect backdrop for a budget-friendly adventure. Take a leisurely stroll along the esplanade, enjoy a picnic with mates, take a dip in the Lagoon, or join a free exercise class. Cairns Esplanade is your gateway to coastal bliss.

Image: Tourism and Events Queensland


2. Visit the Cairns Botanic Gardens

For a peaceful escape that won't cost a thing, head to Cairns Botanic Gardens. Tucked away in Collins Avenue, these gardens showcase the beauty of the Wet Tropics' diverse flora, and the best part? It's free to enter. Stroll through lush rainforest paths, marvel at tropical plants, and, for a small fee, step into the butterfly-filled rainforest dome. Cairns Botanic Gardens offers a budget-friendly and refreshing nature retreat.


3. Spot platypus in Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tablelands is a stone's throw away, just an easy 1 hour and 20-minute drive from Cairns. On the Waterfalls Circuit, you'll find famous ones like Millaa Millaa, Zillie, and Ellinjaa Falls. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, discover hidden gems like Tchupala Falls, Davies Creek Falls, Emerald Creek Falls, or Josephine Falls. Here's the exciting part – keep your eyes peeled for shy platypuses. They might just make a cameo in one of the waterfalls.


4. Hike in the Daintree Rainforest

Get ready for an adventure in the ancient Daintree Rainforest, just a 2-hour and 20-minute scenic drive north of Cairns. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is like a living treasure, showing off some of the world's oldest rainforest wonders. For a budget-friendly escape, throw on comfy shoes, pack a picnic, and hit the forest trails. Wander independently, taking in the lush greenery and unique wildlife. 

Quick tip: If you want to camp in Daintree National Park, grab a permit for a smooth stay.


5. Discover the Great Barrier Reef

Ready for a wallet-friendly adventure at the Great Barrier Reef? While some tours can be a bit pricey, there are plenty of affordable options for smart explorers. Think about a DIY snorkelling trip to the Low Isles or a relaxed day at Green Island. These choices are easier on your budget than an outer reef tour. Most tours start from Cairns and are around 35 minutes to one and a half hours on different boats. The exact time depends on your boat type and the spot you plan to explore while snorkelling or scuba diving. 


6. Explore Kuranda Village

If you're up for a charming mountain escape, Kuranda Village is your go-to spot. Known for vibrant markets, lush rainforest surroundings, and rich indigenous heritage, it's a gem just a short 35 minute drive from Cairns. Once there, enjoy free attractions like the Bat Reach. Embrace the laid-back atmosphere, shop local, and soak in the cultural richness of Kuranda.


7. Visit the Crystal Cascades

Crystal Cascades, tucked away in Redlynch Valley, is a freshwater paradise surrounded by lush rainforest. Just a short 15-minute drive from Cairns, this gem has a series of small waterfalls flowing into pools you can swim in. For a fun day out in nature, drive your campervan to Crystal Cascades, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and picnic. It’s free to visit, but make sure you arrive early for the best spots. With picnic facilities on-site, it's the perfect spot to relax and unwind.


8. Wander around Rusty's Markets

Rusty's Markets in Cairns is a happening place every Friday to Sunday. With over 180 stalls, you can explore fresh produce, seafood, arts, and crafts in this lively market. Drive your campervan there, park easily, and soak in the local vibes. Whether you're grabbing ingredients for your campervan meals or trying tasty street food, Rusty's Markets is a must-visit for a true Cairns experience.


9. Drive the Great Tropical Drive

For those who love road trips, the Great Tropical Drive is a stunning 2080-kilometre journey through Tropical North Queensland. Enjoy breathtaking coastal views, explore quaint towns, and marvel at lush rainforests. In your Cheapa Campa, you can go at your own pace, saving on tour costs. Check road conditions before you start, especially in the wet season. Get set for a memorable road trip on the Great Tropical Drive.


10. Visit Babinda Boulders and Devil's Pool

Just an hour's drive south of Cairns, Babinda Boulders and Devil's Pool are a beautiful spot for a picnic and a swim. Surrounded by lush rainforest, clear waters, and big rocks, it's a must-visit natural haven. It's free to visit, and in your Cheapa Campa, you can camp for free at Babinda Rotary Park for up to 72 hours. Enjoy the peacefulness, take in the beauty, and relax at Babinda Boulders.

Image: Tourism and Events Queensland


The best budget-friendly holiday parks in Cairns

Looking for a cheap spot to park your motorhome in Cairns? We've got you covered! Explore these low-cost holiday parks for a comfy and budget-friendly stay.


NRMA Cairns Holiday Park

NRMA Cairns Holiday Park is your go-to spot for an easy and comfy Campa stay. With clean amenities, barbecue areas, and plenty of space, it's your perfect home base. Plus, it's conveniently located close to Cairns' attractions. Enjoy a hassle-free stay with all the things you need.


Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park

For a peaceful spot to park your campervans near Crystal Cascades, this holiday park is perfect. Surrounded by nature, it's a calm and simple place with greenery all around. They have a barbeque area, and a pool and playground for the kids. Crystal Cascades Holiday Park is your ideal retreat. Park your campervan, enjoy the natural beauty, and relax in this peaceful spot 


Ready to explore Cairns with Cheapa?

Imagine the amazing experiences waiting for you in Cairns. From exploring lush rainforests to diving into the Great Barrier Reef, there's so much to discover. Don't miss out – Cairns is calling, so book your Cheapa Campa today, for the same holiday, just a little Cheapa!

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