Gay Vacations in Cairns, Australia

Cairns Gay and Lesbian Travel Tips

  • Book early for peak seasons. Not only do you want to book early for the "recovery" period after the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in February, prices peak and rooms fill up during the drier and cooler high season, which is roughly late May through early October.
  • Watch the wasps. From about October through April, the poisonous box jellyfish (also known as the sea wasp) invades the beaches of the region. But not to worry – most beaches have stinger nets set up to keep the creepy critters away from swimmers.
  • You can get by without a car. Most tour and cruise operators will pick you up and drop you off in Cairns, on the northern beaches, or even in Port Douglas.
The tropical town of Cairns on the northwest coast of the state of Queensland is said to be the fourth most visited city in Australia. But international visitors don't flock here for the town itself (which is a mere five blocks wide), but because it's the gateway to one of the planet's richest ecological treasures: The Great Barrier Reef. Numerous air-conditioned vessels speed travelers about an hour directly out to sea, where they alight on space-age floating steel platforms, used as nautical bases for snorkeling, diving, and submarine adventures. The Great Barrier Reef is Earth's largest structure made by living organisms, with sections dating back 18 million years. Over 400 species of coral inhabit the 1,600 mile reef, along with 1,500 species of fish. It's a thriving, colorful, and diverse underwater universe unparalleled anywhere on the planet.

But Cairns has also become known for another species: the gay traveler. Cairns, along with the smaller resort town of Port Douglas about 43 miles to the north, has become one of the favorite spots to head for “recovery” after the exhausting debauchery of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras every February. Several gay-owned B&Bs (some clothing-optional) and gay-welcoming mainstream lodgings fill to the brim with boys in Speedos and girls in bikinis trying to find their equilibrium, mellowing out under the bright tropical sunshine. Despite the state's rural reputation of being full of "banana benders" (Aussie slang for a tropical hick), the Queensland Tourism Board has gone out of their way to promote gay tourism.

For those who manage to drag themselves away from their chaise lounge, the area has a number of adventurous attractions, like whitewater rafting down the Tully River (said to be the wettest spot in Australia), hiking through the 110 million-year-old rainforests of the Daintree National Park, taking an aerial tram over the lush Barron Gorge National Park, fishing for giant black marlin, or sunning one's buns at the gay-popular nudist beach Buchans Point.

Published: 13 Aug 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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