The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon is undoubtedly one of the best FREE things to do for families in Cairns. A giant swimming pool with “sand beaches” and decks on the side, overlooking the Trinity inlet, it does a lot to make up for the fact that Cairns city itself does not have a beach.
Tip: Arrive early to avoid the crowds, beat the heat, and to secure a good table under the shade.
When the tide is in, the pool with its clean and clear water looks like it’s part of the ocean – almost! It’s just stunning on a clear and beautiful day.
The lagoon is very popular, and perfect for families looking to chill out and relax in the sun for the day, and is suitable for kids of all ages – with supervision of course. There’s toilets and showers right next to the pool, with a couple of family changing rooms, and free lockers available.
The Cairns lagoon has been cleverly designed. Starting of with a very shallow toddlers paddling pool and small fountains, and gradually deepening to about 1.5 meters at the far end, where there is a water fountain near the woven fish sculptures. The sculptures have become an integral part of Cairns identity and an icon to the region.
For the babies and toddlers, they will need to be in a swim nappy to be able to swim here.
Also appealing for families with young kids is that the pool is quite shallow all the way up on the right hand side of the pool where the “sand beaches” are, and that on the left hand side there are square pools coming off the main pool with different depths.
These pools are perfect for younger kids who are confident in the water, but still need close supervision, as they can play independently in these areas, while parents still have a clear sight of vision on them. There are steps all around these small pools, so access in and out is very easy.
Some of these areas offer some shade, which is good, as overall in the actual pool area itself, there is very little shade.
The Esplanade is very popular with the large number of backpackers that visit here. They generally enjoy lazing on the grass and beach areas later in the day. If you come earlier in the day you will generally find it quieter, and have a better chance of securing a table under the shade. Often there is entertainment or buskers set up around the esplanade lagoon too which add to the relaxing ambience of the lagoon.
Lifeguards are on duty here, which is reassuring, however all kids under 12 must be fully supervised as this pool can get very busy.
It can get quite hot here in summer so make sure you pack the usual water, sunscreen and hats, and get the kids in long sleeve rashi’s if you can.
BBQs & Picnics at Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
Surrounding the pool is a huge grassed area, perfect for relaxing and kicking back with the kids on a picnic blanket with some lovely shaded trees.
There are numerous tables available, either under cover, under the Banyan trees or in the open as well as bench seats
There are plenty of free gas BBQ’s here too, making the Esplanade a popular place for a BBQ, picnic or family get together.
Woolworths supermarket is one block back from the Esplanade, within easy walking to the lagoon if you need to buy some snags, onion, bread and salad for a good old Aussie BBQ!
If you’re not up to packing a picnic or organising a BBQ, you can still enjoy eating here by crossing the street and buying something from the many takeaways and restaurants there.
McDonald’s, is straight opposite the lagoon and very handy, but if you walk down the road 50 metres or so you will find kebab and pizza takeaways, a food market (takeaways not fresh located in the night market building) and of course ice cream and gelatos, just to name a few of the possibilities.
From the Esplanade Lagoon you can take a walk up the Boardwalk and enjoy many of the sites here.