As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns marks the starting point for many tropical adventures. From the city, high-speed cruise vessels can reach paradise beaches and surreal sea views in no time at all, promising visitors the chance to get up close and personal with one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders.
Diving, scuba diving, snorkelling, and swimming are all popular activities from the boats in the Great Barrier Reef, and to accommodate all of the trips that leave every single day, the Reef Fleet Terminal has been opened. This is where Great Barrier Reef visitors begin their journey. Laid out like an airport terminal, Reef Fleet is filled with shops, cafes, and eateries so you can prepare for your once-in-a-lifetime adventure in style.
The Reef Fleet Terminal can be found in the heart of Cairns, right next to the Swimming Lagoon on the Esplanade. Completed back in 2004, it boasts a modern architecture style that perfectly introduces the stunning region.
Just along from the Terminal, the Marlin Jetty offers smaller trips to the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s not just cruises into the Great Barrier Reef that the Terminal offers, either. In fact, this vibrant part of the city hosts a number of other attractions that you can explore while you wait for your boat.
The Esplanade that the Terminal is set on was recently redeveloped, making it one of Cairns’ most popular attractions. Mud flats that characterised the area before have been replaced with shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels. In addition, there’s a great amphitheatre, a large lagoon with sandy shores, and places for picnics and barbecues. For the little ones, there is a fun playground to enjoy.
Every evening, the Esplanade comes to life in a flurry of colour and noise thanks to the night markets. Here, you can browse stalls piled high with arts, crafts, and one-of-a-kind Australian souvenirs. Opening every day at 5pm, it’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Cairns.
Flecker Botanic Gardens
For some peace and quiet, hotfoot it to the Flecker Botanic Gardens. Amongst picturesque gardens, manicured lawns, and a vibrant array of plant life, you can enjoy afternoon tea, complete with freshly baked scones, before wandering around the exhibits.
Though the Reef Fleet Terminal is predominantly for those travelling to the Great Barrier Reef with top-notch tour companies, there is still plenty to do in and around the area before you depart.