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Cairns esplanade

A quick family guide to Cairns

Far North Queensland

From island hopping to jaw dropping, Cairns is the perfect holiday haven for little adventurers. In fact, with its great weather, incredible swim spots, wild adventures, pretty-as-a-picture backdrop of jungle-clad mountains and loads of family-friendly activities, you may never want to leave.

Activities for the kids

The gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns certainly doesn't scrimp on places to get wet. Raffles (8) and Sugarpuff (5) are particularly enamoured with the white sand beaches, clear waters and coral gardens of Green Island, just 45-minutes by catamaran from the Cairns Marina. My snorkel-loving son dons his stinger suit to make the most of the incredible clear conditions and indulge in Green Island's aquatic action, accessible just metres from the beach.

The little one prefers to spend the afternoon splashing happily around in the shallows, collecting shells - coating herself head to toe in sand in the process. There's also a shaded swimming pool on the island that both take advantage of after a stroll along the lush rainforest boardwalks and an ice cream.

The Esplanade Lagoon back in Cairns is another favourite with the kids who lose hours splashing about in the sandy beach areas and water play zone of the massive, patrolled, saltwater lagoon pool.

We love opportunities to get in touch with the history of Indigenous Australia when we’re holidaying, and the not to be missed Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park doesn’t disappoint.

Both our kids adore getting their faces painted, the incredible dance performances, cultural demonstrations and stories told by the descendants of the local Tjapukai people at their evening show, Night Fire, my eldest even getting up to joining the performers on stage.

During the day there’s even more to entertain the kids with craft demonstrations, bush food trails, and boomerang throwing.

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

But it is the wild adventures on offer that really gets the kids excited.

While Sugarpuff enjoys a flutter in the walk-through Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Raff prefers the Australian Venom Zoo, a wildlife attraction that focuses on the captive breeding and displaying of venomous animals.

Both of them are enthralled at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, which is quite literally crawling with crocs. But for Raff looking at crocs doesn’t prove exciting enough. To appease his inner wildlife warrior, we head to Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome – an indoor high ropes challenge course - where Raff leaps directly over the top of a live and hungry 4.5 metre crocodile named Goliath as I watch on in slack-jawed awe.


Where to Stay

But tropical holidays are as much about slowing down to smell the frangipanis as they are about wild adventure and the Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourfront, located on The Esplanade overlooking pretty Trinity Bay, allowed us to do just that.

With spacious interconnecting family rooms the kids were able to sprawl out, and we had plenty of private space to relax after they fell asleep on their cloud like pillows.

The massive balcony overlooking pretty Trinity Bay also proves a pretty spectacular spot from which to watch the sun come up each morning.

As lovely as our rooms are, it is Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourfront’s sapphire blue swimming pool and spa that most floats the kids boat, and they spend hours each afternoon splashing around in it.

The service is sublime and nothing seems too much trouble for any of our crew. We are also suitably impressed that kids aged 12 and under can stay and eat free (when dining with at least with one paying adult) and their mouth watering Kids Menu, developed in partnership with Nutrition Australia, proves impossible for mine to resist.

Holiday Inn Cairns

When she’s not treading on Lego and being forced to watch Frozen on loop, Aleney de Winter is a travel, food and parenting writer. She shares tales of travelling and eating along with the hilarious antics of her globetrotting seven-year old foodie son and daredevil four-year old daughter on her blog, Boy Eats World

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