Cairns Airport (CNS) handles both domestic and international flights, with inbound travellers poised to explore the best of Tropical North Queensland. Located a stone’s throw away from the city centre – six kilometres, to be exact – you can waltz off the plane and be taking a dip in Cairns’ iconic lagoon in moments. Heading further afield? Cairns Airport is also the gateway to Palm Cove and Port Douglas, offering easy access to the Great Barrier Reef.
If a trip to sunny Cairns is on the horizon, here are the best ways to travel from Cairns Airport to the city, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.
Shuttle bus from Cairns Airport to the city
Exemplar operates a shuttle bus service from Cairns Airport to the city centre, putting you in the heart of the action in just 11 minutes. A one-way adult shuttle bus fare from the airport to Cairns city centre costs just $20. And children aged 2-11 pay half the price of an adult fare, while children under two travel free.
Tickets can be booked online or at the Exemplar Transfer Desk in the arrivals area of the domestic and international terminals. You’ll find shuttle bus pick up points outside the arrivals hall of both domestic and international terminals at Cairns Airport.
Alternatively, Con-X-ion offers an easy shuttle bus service between Cairns Airport and the city with advance bookings required.
If you’re travelling solo, a shuttle bus is the cheapest way to get from Cairns Airport to the city. But if you’re travelling as a group or have plenty of lugagge in tow, a taxi or rideshare can be a more economical way to travel direct to your accommodation.
Shuttle bus from Cairns Airport to Palm Cove
If you’re heading up the coast to Palm Cove, Examplar’s shuttle bus service can take you there in just 30 minutes. Adults pay $30 for a one-way journey, while a child fare is just $15.
Shuttle bus from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas
Exemplar shuttle buses can also be booked from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas. The 90-minute journey will set you back $50 per person, or $25 for a child.
Taxi from Cairns Airport to the city
Given Cairns Airport’s close proximity to the city centre, you can expect a speedy taxi ride. In fact, the journey takes just seven minutes in light traffic, with prices starting at $25-$30 depending on the time of day and your final destination.
An access fee applies to all taxis picking up passengers at Cairns Airport. When travelling from the domestic terminal, a $2.50 pick up charge applies. From the international terminal, the fee is $5. The access fee is included in your final taxi fare.
Cairns Airport has taxi ranks outside its domestic and international terminals. Taxis can’t be pre-booked, but they’re readily available at the airport.
Taxi from Cairns Airport to Palm Cove
A taxi to Palm Cove from Cairns Airport takes around 25 minutes. Depending on traffic, expect to pay between $60-$70 for the one-way journey. But If you’ve got a minimum of two adults, the price of a taxi to Palm Cove is comparable to a shuttle bus. As a plus, you’ll enjoy a private transfer straight to your accommodation.
Taxi from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas
If you’re heading to Port Douglas from Cairns Airport, the taxi journey is shorter than a shuttle bus. Though expect to pay around $200 for the 60-minute trip. When travelling as a group, the cost per person is about the same as a shuttle bus. But you’ll enjoy a shorter trip, and the added convenience of travelling direct to your accommodation.
Cairns Airport rideshare pickup zone
There are two rideshare pickup zones at Cairns Airport – one outside T1 international terminal, and one outside T2 domestic terminal. Uber, Ola and DiDi all service Cairns Airport and surrounding areas.
Uber from Cairns Airport to the city
An Uber is a fast and easy way to get to the city from Cairns Airport. And, in many cases, it can work out cheaper than a taxi. You can expect Uber fares to start between $14-$19 for the seven-minute ride. But as with taxis, an access fee applies for Uber pick ups at Cairns Airport – $2.50 from the domestic terminal, and $5 from international.
Qantas Frequent Flyer members can also earn one Qantas Point per $1 spent on eligible rides to and from Australian airports. All you need to do is link your Qantas Frequent Flyer and Uber accounts before your next ride. Presently, this is the only way to earn frequent flyer points through rideshare following the end of the Ola and Velocity Frequent Flyer partnership. Though using a credit card that earns frequent flyer points can help you maximise your points-earning potential when using Uber or any rideshare service.
Uber from Cairns Airport to Palm Cove
An Uber to Palm Cove from Cairns Airport is a surprisingly cheap and easy way to travel. The 25-minute ride starts from $31. The final price is dependent on traffic and your exact destination. But for two adults an Uber can work out to be cheaper than a shuttle bus or taxi.
Uber from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas
If you’re heading up to Port Douglas, an Uber can be one of the cheapest ways to get there from Cairns Airport. Prices start at $78 for the 60-minute journey. For groups or families, this can certainly be one of the most economical and easiest ways to get from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas.
The next time you fly into Cairns Airport, it’s handy to know the best ways to travel to the city centre, Palm Cove or Port Douglas. Whether you’re travelling by shuttle bus, taxi or rideshare, planning ahead can ensure your holiday gets off to a stress-free start.
Looking to unwind at Cairns Airport before your next departure? Here’s what to expect at Qantas Club, Cairns.
Featured image: David Clode, Unsplash
Cairns Airport is located six kilometres from the city centre.
In light traffic, it takes just seven minutes to reach the city centre from Cairns Airport by road.
This depends entirely on your personal preference. While a shuttle bus, taxi or rideshare can get you there quickly, prices and ease of travel can vary.
An Uber to the city from Cairns Airport starts at $14, with the final price depending on traffic and your destination.
No – Cairns’ public transport network does not service Cairns Airport.
The distance between Cairns Airport to Palm Cove is around 25 kilometres by road.
It takes about 25 minutes to reach Palm Cove from Cairns Airport.
Taxi prices to Palm Cove from Cairns Airport are usually between $60-$70 one-way.
The cost of an Uber to Palm Cove from Cairns Airport starts at $31.
Port Douglas is located around 66 kilometres from Cairns Airport.
Depending on your mode of transport, the journey to Port Douglas from Cairns Airport can take anywhere between 60-90 minutes.
The cost of a taxi to Port Douglas from Cairns Airport starts at $200 one-way.
The price of an Uber to Port Douglas from Cairns Airport starts at $78.
Cairns Airport does not have any hotels or motels outside the airport. But given the short distance to the city centre, you can book accommodation in the city and easily grab a shuttle bus, taxi or rideshare from the airport.