Considered one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a beautiful holiday destination in its own right as well. Located in Far North Queensland, Australia, this coastal city is characterized by warm tropical breezes and the equally warm and welcoming atmosphere that prevails in this picturesque urban center. Flights to Cairns are available from major airports in the U.S. on a regular basis and offer access to the many charms of this tropical paradise.

The Great Barrier Reef is the primary attraction in the area. Both ecologically and geologically important, this system of coral reefs is visible from outer space and is the single largest structure made by living things on the planet. The reef supports over 1,500 species of fish, 30 different kinds of whales, porpoises and dolphins and six types of sea turtles. Sharks and crocodiles are among the predator species that live and hunt in this fertile area. Visitors can tour the Great Barrier Reef by boat or enjoy snorkeling and diving in the crystal blue waters of the surrounding ocean.

For history buffs, the Atherton Tableland area offers much to explore and discover. An agricultural and environmental center in the Far North Queensland area, the Atherton Tablelands were once home to the region’s tin mining and logging industries. Today, this area is protected as one of the best-preserved rainforests in the area, but remnants of its industrial past still remain in the numerous museums, historic buildings and serene Chinese shrines and temples throughout the Atherton Tableland region. More adventurous guests can explore the Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve or take on the outback at the Wetlands Safari Camp.

No visit to Cairns would be complete without a visit to the beaches located nearby. Machans Beach is a quiet, relaxed area that mainly caters to the residential trade. Four Mile Beach has been featured in Hollywood films and offers an upscale resort environment for those who can afford it. Families will love the relaxed atmosphere and outdoor activities at Trinity Beach but will need to bring along plenty of sun block for the trip. While enjoying these beautiful beaches, visitors should be aware of the dangers of jellyfish stings, which can cause a variety of harmful symptoms. Local tourism officials ensure that nets are in place at most public beaches to prevent stings, but caution should still be exercised during the jellyfish season from November to May. Within the city of Cairns, the world-famous Cairns Esplanade features a tropical lagoon that is particularly lovely at night.