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What to Do in Cairns at Night

Updated Fri 06 Jan 2023

Person silhouetted with light up angel wings

Queensland is known as the Sunshine State, thanks to its average of over 300 sunny days a year with average temperatures of 34 degrees Celsius in summer and 25 degrees Celsius in winter. Our lifestyles revolve around the sun — waking up with it to catch a morning wave, basking in its glow for hours on the warm sand, and feeling its heat on the back of our necks as we toast to another glorious sunset. 

So what does one get up to in Cairns — the unofficial capital of sunny North Queensland — get up to after dark? Fear not! The good times don’t stop when the sun goes down in Cairns, in fact, there’s plenty of fun to be had under the moon, too.

Lionfish lit up at night

Go Night Diving

Dive into the Great Barrier Reef as the stars twinkle above you in the night sky. Night diving is restricted to certified divers, but boy is it worth it. The reef is a vastly different experience by night as plenty of sea critters are nocturnal. As the day fish slip into their cozy anemones and shady crevices for their beauty sleep, egg cowrie, crayfish, decorator crabs and moray eels come out to play. As the nocturnal fish swim alongside you they may even use your torchlight to hunt prey!

Pro Dive’s 3-day liveaboard offers two night dives on the Outer Reef, and Spirit of Freedom’s 3-day 3-night and Mike Ball’s 4-day 4-night will take you night diving around Cod Hole and the Ribbon Reefs. If you’re keen to work night diving into your evening itinerary for Cairns, chat with our travel experts to learn about more tours and options.

Girl on edge of liveaboard raising arms towards sunrise

Sleep on the Reef

If the idea of diving at night gives you the willies or you’re not up to date on the required training, consider simply sleeping on the reef instead! Liveaboards are one of the best ways to experience reef life. Imagine drifting off to the gentle swaying of your luxury liveaboard vessel and waking up to a brilliant orange sunrise rippling across the coral sea … Sip your morning coffee as the seabirds sing their morning song and the fish below shimmy out of their anemones and sea beds before you dive straight into the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef to join them. This is what dreams are made of.

Nightclub with neon lights hanging from ceiling

Hit the Clubs

Cairns may be synonymous with rest and relaxation, but it also has a pumping nightlife scene. Got a passion for partying? Kick off at the Pier Bar or Salt House (cheap drinks on Mondays!) with a couple of golden hour bevs, then put your dancing shoes on and head to Gilligan’s or the Woolshed for a hardcore boogie with buddies old and new. Getting out and about in the city scene is a great way to meet and mingle with both locals and backpackers. 

Cocktails in foreground with neon club in background

Hire a Party Bus

If you’re looking to elevate your party game, check out Cairns Ultimate Party Bus. Your mates will love you for organising this. Kick off at a stunning waterfront bar before your double-decker party bus privately escorts you to five of Cairns’ hottest nightclubs. You’ll receive free VIP entry to each club (that means VIP drinks prices) and a complimentary bev at each destination. The Ultimate Party Bus experience also offers games throughout the night with a bounty of prizes worth up to $1,500 in cash! This is a you-beaut option for lads on tour, bachelorette parties and birthdays.

Closeup of seafood pasta with white wine

Wine and Dine Your Boo

In town with your lovebird? Say no more. Cairns is brimming with sexy waterfront eateries for you and your boo to dine by candlelight. If seafood’s your thing, book a table for deux (that’s two in French — the language of love) at Prawn Star and sip on some bubs as you feast on a platter of prawns, oysters and bug. Or take a little trip down Italy way at Bellalocale, French may be the language of love but it’s Italians who know how to make your stomach swoon. Try the confit duck, the marinara or the pappardelle bugs and let your waiter take care of the wine pairing — you’ll be too busy gazing into your lover’s eyes as you hand-feed each other pasta. Mmm, molto bella, amanti.

Churro twists covered in chocolate and nuts

Take it Slow at the Cairns Night Markets

Cairns Night Markets are a great low-key option for a quiet night out when you’re starting to get holiday fatigue but you’d still like to leave the house and enjoy the sights. Trawl the food hall for tasty desserts and pick up some souvenirs for friends at home! Just make sure you check for the green and yellow ‘Made in Australia’ sticker on any Aussie merch — we want to make sure we’re supporting homegrown talent and that you’re walking the real deal! Robert Levi’s Hidden Warrier stall has some stunning Indigenous art for sale that would make a wonderful keepsake from your time on Gimuy-walubarra yidi land.

For any extra help locking in your evening itinerary for your trip to Cairns, chat with our friendly travel experts — available 24/7!

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