Esplanade, Cairns North QLD 4870, Australia
Photo courtesy of Brooke Shaw/age fotostock
Cairns EsplanadeThe jumping-off point for many a Great Barrier Reef excursion, the Cairns Esplanade is also a great place to stick around. By day, visitors can splash in the saltwater lagoon and discover marine mammals at the Cairns Aquarium, which offers behind-the-scenes experiences from petting baby stingrays and long-neck turtles to sleeping between shark tanks. Once the sun goes down, the Cairns Night Markets fire up, with more than 70 stalls hawking everything from pearls and opals to indigenous crafts and organic fruits and seafood. Sip on refreshing coconut sugarcane juice while you shop. For travelers who must get off the mainland, consider a day trip to Green Island or Fitzroy Island.