18 Best Suburbs in Cairns to Live

With its idyllic tropical setting between pristine beaches and lush mountainous rainforests, Cairns offers one of the most enviable lifestyles in all of Australia. This vibrant yet laid back city in northern Queensland has developed into a highly desirable place to call home, attracting families, professionals, and retirees alike with its unique blend of city amenities and natural wonders.

While iconic attractions like the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest are huge draw cards for visitors, Cairns’ diverse array of suburbs provide the ultimate lifestyle for residents. From trendy inner-city communities to exclusive beachside enclaves and master-planned suburban havens – there’s a home to suit every pace and preference.  

Families are spoiled for choice, with many suburbs offering quality housing, top-rated schools, parks and playgrounds in peaceful, community-oriented settings. Yet being in the heart of tropical North Queensland means endless opportunities for embracing an active outdoor lifestyle too.

Affluent suburbs like Edge Hill and Kanimbla epitomise luxury tropical living with grand houses nestled amidst rainforest surrounds, while seaside villages like Palm Cove and Yorkeys Knob exude a permanent vacation vibe on stunning beaches fringed by palms.  

From the vibrant inner-city precincts of Stratford and Westcourt to the affordable family estates in Mooroobool and Smithfield, each suburb offers its own unique take on embracing Cairns’ relaxed and rejuvenating way of life.

Whether seeking a quiet rural retreat, bayside resort-style living, or a suburban oasis to raise a family, this guide explores 20 of Cairns’ premier residential areas and the lifestyles they have to offer in this idyllic tropical paradise.

Edge Hill

Edge Hill offers a coveted inner-city lifestyle with a village atmosphere. Its elevated position on the hills provides fantastic views over Cairns to the Coral Sea and rainforest-clad mountain ranges. Residents love strolling the leafy streets lined with heritage queenslander houses and modern tropical homes. The suburb has a vibrant community hub with local cafes, boutiques, parks and proximity to the scenic Botanic Gardens. Edge Hill strikes a nice balance of suburban serenity while being just minutes from the Cairns CBD.


The prestigious suburb of Whitfield epitomises the classic Australian dream of a spacious modern home on a large tropical landscaped block. Its quiet tree-lined streets wind through the suburb, flanked by luxury houses featuring scenic alfresco entertainment areas, resort-style pools, and lush gardens. Whitfield caters well to families with quality public and private schools, excellent sports facilities likeOz-Train Rugby Park, and proximity to major shopping complexes. A safe, family-friendly environment with all the amenities makes it one of Cairns’ most desirable addresses.


Stylish Stratford attracts both young families and professionals with its blend of heritage queenslander houses and contemporary architectural designed homes. The laid-back yet trendy suburb has a friendly village vibe with local cafes, boutiques, and recreational spaces like the scenic Centenary Lakes precinct. Its central location just 15 minutes from Cairns CBD offers an appealing inner-suburban lifestyle with an abundance of parks and bike trails to enjoy the tropical climate. Residents can easily access the city while enjoying Stratford’s relaxed suburban pace.


Nestled at the base of rainforest-clad mountains, the prestigious suburb of Kanimbla exudes a sense of tranquil luxury and privacy. Large executive-style houses occupy its winding streets, many capturing panoramic views from their elevated positions. Residents are surrounded by nature with numerous bushwalking trails meandering through the verdant peaks. Yet the serene natural setting belies the fact that the vibrant Cairns esplanade and city centre are just minutes away. Kanimbla’s resort-like ambiance and proximity to city amenities are major drawcards.

Bayview Heights

One of Cairns’ most significant new master planned residential developments, Bayview Heights offers modern family living with a backdrop of breathtaking vistas. Its elevated position captures panoramic views across the region to the ocean and hinterland peaks. Designed around principles of connected community living, the suburb’s contemporary precincts feature parks, cycling trails and future mixed-use town centres. A variety of new home designs from project builders cater to different family budgets and lifestyles. Residents can enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle balanced with urban conveniences nearby.


Brinsmead offers an affordable yet well-located suburban option close to the Cairns CBD and major amenities like Cairns Central shopping centre. Established streets shaded by towering eucalyptus trees make way for newer residential pockets. A mix of older queenslander houses, modern townhouses and family homes provide something for every budget and lifestyle in this relaxed community. Brinsmead has local shops, schools, sporting fields and parks but also allows easy access to the city centre in just 10 minutes. Its peaceful environment and conveniences make it popular with first home buyers, families and retirees. 

Palm Cove

Approximately 30 minutes drive north of Cairns lies the iconic beachside suburb of Palm Cove. This upscale yet laid back enclave exudes a vacation atmosphere with its palm tree-lined beach, seaside cafes and boutiques. Million-dollar homes line the esplanade and inland streets, blending tropical chic and alfresco living. Residents can dine oceanfront while watching spectacular sunsets then wander home to their private resort-style abode with pools and tropical gardens. Palm Cove offers a luxurious slice of paradise away from the hustle of urban life.

Trinity Park

Trinity Park enjoys an idyllic location just north of the Cairns city centre while maintaining a family-friendly suburban feel. The tree-lined streets are graced with heritage queenslander cottages, modern designer villas, and apartment complexes set amid lush tropical gardens. The suburb has its own local “village” with boutique cafes, shops and recreational areas like Federation Park. Trinity Park combines the convenience of inner-city living with a peaceful, green environment to raise a family. Residents can easily walk, cycle or take public transport to work in the CBD.


Nestled in the rainforest-clad hills behind Cairns’ northern suburbs, Caravonica offers an affordable yet scenic tree-change for those wanting space and serenity. The quiet residential streets are lined with modestly-sized houses and acreage properties allowing residents to be surrounded by nature. Wildlife like kangaroos and native birds are commonplace visitors. Yet the semi-rural oasis is still easily accessible to the city with Cairns CBD just 15 minutes away. Outdoor enthusiasts benefit from hiking trails into the scenic ranges at their doorstep. A small local village has basic amenities like a grocer, hotel and schools.

Kewarra Beach  

For those seeking a seaside haven away from the hustle of city life, Kewarra Beach offers a tranquil yet stylish getaway. This peaceful coastal community located about 20 minutes north of Cairns features homes with modern beachy vibes and stunning ocean or mountain views from many properties. Residents can stroll along the quiet palm-fringed beach, dine oceanfront at upscale yet laid back restaurants, or head inland to explore the nearby ancient rainforests and waterfalls of the national park hinterland. It has a relaxed village atmosphere while providing easy access to the popular Northern Beaches region’s attractions.


Redlynch offers a rural residential atmosphere while being conveniently located just 10 minutes from the Cairns CBD. Large acreage properties and low-density housing developments provide residents with a sense of space and tranquillity surrounded by lush mountain scenery. Many homes capture spectacular views of the rainforest ranges from their elevated positions. Despite its secluded feel, Redlynch has amenities like local shops, markets, taverns and quality schools nearby. Residents can escape to a peaceful, bushland setting after working in the city.


Up-and-coming Mooroobool has become a popular address for young families looking to get their foot on the property ladder. New housing estates offer affordable house-and-land packages with open plan designed homes and lush landscaped yards. The peaceful residential enclave has playgrounds, parks and quality schooling options, catering well to family living. Its location is ideal, being just 10 minutes west of Cairns CBD and close to major shopping centres and arterial roads while avoiding peak-hour city traffic.


Westcourt has a welcoming family-oriented community vibe with its quiet streets, modern housing developments and abundance of parks and recreational spaces. Most properties are detached houses with ample yard space, perfect for children and pets. The area has great amenities including quality public and private schools, sports fields, bike trails and is close to major shopping hubs like Stockland Cairns. Despite its family-friendly suburban setting, Westcourt is conveniently located just 10 minutes drive from the Cairns CBD.

Machans Beach

For those craving a permanent seaside escape, Machans Beach offers a laid-back coastal haven around 20 minutes drive north of Cairns. Homes in this village-like suburb have an unmistakably relaxed, holiday feel with elevated properties capturing ocean views and breezes. Residents can start their day strolling along the quiet palm-fringed beach then stop for coffee and breakfast at the local cafes and bakeries. Despite its sleepy ambiance, Machans Beach provides easy access to Cairns and nearby beach suburbs like Palm Cove.


Edmonton has developed into an affordable, family-friendly suburb providing a semi-rural lifestyle northwest of Cairns’ city centre. Its mix of older original houses on generous blocks and newer modern housing developments offer options for various budgets. The area has a warm community feel with its own charming local “village” boasting shops, parks, sporting fields and quality schools. Edmonton strikes a nice balance of having amenities on your doorstep while being a safe, peaceful environment to raise children away from the city hustle.

Yorkeys Knob

One of Cairns’ original beachside suburbs, Yorkeys Knob epitomises a relaxed coastal lifestyle. Spanning several kilometres along the coastline, the suburb features a mix of classic “queenslander” style houses, modern beach villas, and high-rise apartment buildings lining the long stretch of golden sandy beach. Its oceanfront esplanade hosts casual dining and boutique shopping, while nearby are recreational areas like the scenic Half Moon Bay Golf Course. Residents can truly embrace an active yet laid-back way of life in this quintessential Queensland beach town.


The modern planned suburb of Smithfield has become a thriving residential and commercial hub in Cairns’ north. It has a young, family-oriented population drawn to its range of newer housing developments that offer a quality lifestyle in line with Cairns’ relaxed tropical vibe. The centrepiece is the Smithfield Village precinct featuring a major shopping complex with cinemas, restaurants, retail and recreational areas including parks and playgrounds. Smith field’s master planned design focuses on connectivity and community living making it a desirable suburban address.


For those wanting space and serenity while not being too far from city amenities, Kamerunga offers the best of both worlds. This semi-rural suburb nestled in the ranges behind Cairns provides a peaceful bushland setting and cooler temperatures. Several larger acreage properties and low-density housing developments enjoy panoramic views stretching from the rainforest mountain ranges across to the azure Coral Sea on the horizon. Yet just a 10-minute drive can have residents in the heart of Cairns CBD when desired. Kamerunga provides the ultimate retreat from urban living while not being totally isolated.

Living in Cairns

The Cairns Botanical Gardens: A Tropical Paradise

Nestled in the heart of Cairns, a vibrant coastal city in northern Queensland, Australia, lies the stunning Cairns Botanic Gardens. This 38-hectare oasis of lush greenery and vibrant flora is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and plant enthusiasts alike.

As you step through the gates, you are immediately enveloped by a world of tropical splendour. Winding pathways meander through meticulously landscaped gardens, each one showcasing a unique collection of plants from around the world. The Gardens boast an impressive array of over 4,000 species of plants, ranging from towering palms and ancient ferns to exotic orchids and colourful bromeliads.

One of the highlights of the Cairns Botanic Gardens is the Flecker Garden, a recreated rainforest that provides a glimpse into the diverse ecosystem of the ancient Gondwana supercontinent. Here, visitors can marvel at the majestic trees and lush understory, home to a myriad of bird species and other wildlife.

Another notable feature is the Zingiberales Garden, which showcases an extensive collection of gingers, heliconias, and other plants from the Zingiberales order. This vibrant garden is a feast for the senses, with its striking foliage and fascinating blooms.

For those interested in ethnobotany, the Aboriginal Plant Use Garden is a fascinating destination. This area showcases the deep connection between the Indigenous Australians and the local flora, highlighting the various medicinal, food, and cultural uses of native plants.

Beyond its botanical wonders, the Cairns Botanic Gardens also offers several amenities for visitors to enjoy. The Gardens feature several sheltered areas for picnics, as well as a café and gift shop. Educational programs and guided tours are available for those seeking a deeper understanding of the plant life on display.

Whether you’re a seasoned botanist or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, the Cairns Botanical Gardens is a true tropical paradise. With its stunning array of plants, educational offerings, and serene atmosphere, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to the Cairns region.

The Cairns to Cape: Australia’s Epic Tropical Drive

For those seeking an unforgettable adventure through some of Australia’s most stunning tropical landscapes, the iconic Cairns to Cape driving route is an absolute must. This 849-kilometre journey takes you from the coastal city of Cairns all the way to the northern tip of the Australian mainland at Cape York.

The journey begins in Cairns, a vibrant city nestled between the Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest. From here, the road winds its way through the lush green hills and sugar cane fields of the Atherton Tablelands, dotted with charming small towns and picturesque waterfalls.

As you leave the Tablelands behind, the landscape transforms into the rugged and remote wilderness of Cape York Peninsula. This is where the real adventure begins, as the road narrows and winds through vast savannah woodlands, past towering termite mounds and along the banks of crocodile-infested rivers.

One of the highlights of the Cairns to Cape drive is the Bloomfield Track, a 4WD-only route that takes you through the heart of the Daintree Rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Here, you’ll navigate creek crossings and steep inclines, surrounded by ancient trees draped in vines and ferns.

Further north, the journey leads you to the historic town of Cooktown, where Captain James Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, in 1770. This charming town is a living museum, with its colonial buildings and rich Indigenous culture.

As you continue your journey, you’ll traverse the breathtaking landscapes of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park, home to vast wetlands teeming with birdlife and lurking crocodiles. The road then hugs the coastline, offering stunning views of the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches that characterise the Cape York Peninsula.

The final leg of the journey takes you across the Jardine River, a remote and challenging crossing that requires expert 4WD skills. Once across, you’ll find yourself at the northernmost point of the Australian mainland, the iconic Tip of Cape York, where the Torres Strait meets the Coral Sea.

The Cairns to Cape drive is not just a journey; it’s an adventure that immerses you in the raw beauty and rich cultural heritage of Australia’s tropical north. From the ancient rainforests and rugged outback to the pristine beaches and remote Indigenous communities, this epic road trip is an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of the natural wonders that Australia has to offer.

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