Naturally, seafood in king in Cairns and though the range and quality of dining options is vast, it's barramundi, the giant local game fish and other fruits of the sea that are the main draw card in restaurants all over Cairns and the Daintree region. Décor and atmosphere tends towards relaxed and casual. Cane furniture and open walls are part of the tropical Cairns atmosphere.
The seafood buffets at the various five-star hotels in Cairns are well known and those who haven't headed off to the Great Barrier Reef for the day will enjoy a lunchtime feast at any of these places. Once the sun goes down and everyone returns to town, the twinkling outdoor cafés and bars near the water do a roaring trade.
Offshore in the Great Barrier Reef is Thursday Island, where many visitors to Cairns spend at least one or two nights. The facilities for visitors are extensive here with several dozen restaurants and a couple of art galleries, some of which have fine cafés. Seafood restaurants like the Pearl Lugger serve up lobster, crayfish and prawns that have actually been pulled from the ocean less than an hour previously.
Hundreds of restaurants open for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the center of Cairns which is really where Cairns dining has its epicenter. Mexican, Thai, Japanese and Australian cuisine happily compete, with every other shop front a café or restaurant in this heavily touristed area of the city.
Heading towards the waterfront The Esplanade is Cairns' other dining central. Five- star hotels operate fine dining restaurants here and plenty of ice cream parlors and quick takeaways do a brisk trade too. Many visitors to Cairns find a stroll along this part of Cairns, particularly after sunset, to be a very memorable experience.