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In terms of holiday destinations, Bali is a perennial favourite amongst Australian travellers. And why wouldn’t it be? The lush Indonesian island is only a quick flight away from most major Australian cities, and its balmy tropical days, world class food and affordable adventures are the ideal way to escape the daily grind.

But what if we told you you could still experience the best of a tropical overseas getaway without having to wait for international borders to open? What if we told you that summertime in Tropical North Queensland has all of the offerings of an Indonesian getaway and more? The cleansing summer showers mean that the vibrant flora is on full display, the wildlife comes out to play, and the region’s best summer produce is available everywhere you eat. .

If we haven’t quite convinced you yet, that’s fine. Read on for just a few more reasons why a summer holiday in and around Cairns gives a trip to Bali a run for its money. We can’t promise you won’t be looking up flights before you’re done. 

tropical fruit and produce in Cairns

The scene to be seen:

Base yourself at the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort and you’ll quite literally be in the middle of it all. Go for an afternoon float around the aquamarine pool, squish your toes in white-sand shallows, and start the evening off with a tropical concoction from the swim up bar (the only one in Cairns, might we add).

From there, the city is chock-full of stellar spots to see and be seen. Grab a few drinks and tapas from Laneway, a funky garden bar that pumps out good beats and a relaxed atmosphere. For more cocktails, check out kitschy-cool Flamingos Tiki Bar, the classy ambience at Conservatory Bar, or the speakeasy vibes at Three Wolves. Finish it all off with a few tapas plates at Salt House and an opportunity to boogie the night away on the dancefloor.

The diverse food arena:

Cairns’ proximity to tropical farmlands and the Pacific Ocean means most menus are laced with some of the freshest produce and seafood Australia has available. The menu at Novotel's own Moku Bar + Grill highlights the cultural and natural diversity of the region, with ingredients like Tablelands yogurt for breakfast, local Barramundi for dinner, and Queensland mango for dessert.

And while there are plenty of venues that offer a fine dining experience (the East Asian inspired menu at Tamarind and the classic French atmosphere at C’est Bon are both divine), there are even more that are moderately priced and even budget friendly.  For fresh local seafood and an excellent afternoon sesh, try Prawn Star, where you’ll sit on the deck of an old trawler and wash down platters of the good stuff with cold canned beer. Otherwise, take a walk down any busy street in town and you’ll pass as many Korean fried chicken, Vietnamese pho, and traditional Thai joints as you will coffeeshops, pubs and bakeries.

Moku Bar + Grill at Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

The relaxed atmosphere:

If your definition of “holiday”  consists of sun-soaking, spa hopping and casual sightseeing, there’s plenty of that to go around in the Tropical North. Head up to Port Douglas and go for a leisurely stroll along palm-laden Four Mile beach. Head further north for a trip up to the Daintree Rainforest; the lush greenery and dreamy rainforest sounds provide the perfect backdrop for a day without screens and WiFi. Or, you can hop on the Skyrail Cableway and float through the jungle canopy up to Kuranda, a funky village that boasts a unique souvenir market and access to the roaring Barron Falls.

Four Mile Beach Port Douglas

To totally unwind, book in for an Earth & Ocean treatment at Pullman Cairns International’s tranquil Vie Spa. De-stress and connect with the earth’s healing benefits in this iconic Australian location, where the rainforest meets the reef.

Or, for a cheap and cheerful massage like you would find on most Bali beaches, take your pick from any of the vendors at the Cairns Night Markets where a quick massage can put you back as little as $25. 

Vie Spa at Pullman Cairns International

The adventures:

Cairns is considered the adventure capital of Australia, and for excellent reason. It almost goes without saying, but the Tropical North offers endless opportunities to see the Great Barrier Reef, be it up close on an introductory diving course or from up above in a luxury chopper. Freshwater swimming and waterfall hopping are also a must during the summer, when frequent showers ensure that the falls are flowing and the creeks are full. Back on land, there’s opportunities to bike through the rainforest, hike through dense jungle bush and hang-glide over the mountain range. The opportunities to break a sweat and get the blood pumping are endless. 

You can even rent scooters here, Bali-style (though with the added benefit of Medicare access, might we add). Zip around the city streets or the Northern Beaches and feel that warm tropical breeze whisper through your helmet. You’ll forget you’re still on Australian soil.  

Waterfall near Cairns wet season fun

It’s accessibility:

One of the best things about choosing a flight to Cairns over a flight to Denpasar? Well, you can. You don’t have to wait for international borders to open to go on a proper holiday. The Tropical North is accessible from nearly every major airport in Australia, and there’s no passport required to get here.