It’s hard to believe that the buzzing Australian city of Cairns overlooking the Coral Sea was once a boggy swamp and a gold rush port. Today, Cairns, pronounced ‘cans,’ is the top destination for exploring Far North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. The unabashed tourist town and its surroundings are also home to the largest LGBTQ community in Queensland outside the southeastern region. With an ever-growing number of options for gay accommodation in Cairns, it’s no surprise that LGBTQ travelers are thronging here. Despite there being no exclusively gay bars, the inclusive scene here is only growing. So, no matter where you head in the town, you’re warmly welcomed everywhere. Also, Cairns celebrates a fabulous Pride, and there are lots of parties throughout the year.
Moreover, there’s a lot to explore in the Cairns region, which is the traditional land of the Yidinji and Yirrganydji peoples. Firstly, it’s a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the world’s most incredibly beautiful heritage sites. The town of Cairns is also the creative nucleus of rural Queensland, with a plethora of galleries, local artists, and live music venues. Furthermore, it’s also close to the hidden gem that is Frankland Island, one of Australia’s most beautiful islands. So, if you’re looking for a change from the gay scenes in Sydney or Melbourne, Cairns is the ideal gay getaway. To that end, here are the top 11 gay hotels in Cairns, Australia.
Table of contents
- Turtle Cove Beach Resort
- Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
- Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
- Hilton Cairns
- Pullman Cairns International
- Cairns Colonial Club Resort
- Cairns Harbor Lights Hotel
- Il Palazzo Boutique Apartment Hotel
- Bay Village Tropical Retreat & Apartments
- Lilybank Bed & Breakfast
- Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
- Our Verdict!
- Just So You Know:
Turtle Cove Beach Resort
Best exclusive gay resort. There’s more than one reason why all LGBTQ travelers flock to Turtle Cove Beach Resort. This amazing gay accommodation in the Cairns-Port Douglas region is not just adults-only but also gay-only. What’s more, it’s the only Australia resort from the able stable of LGBTQIA+ & Allies. So, it’s no wonder that this tropical paradise, which is sprawled out on its own private (read: gay) beach north of Cairns, is so popular. What’s more, the resort has its own beach pride!
Each and everything about this resort is sexy. To begin with, it has a gorgeous heated outdoor pool, complete with umbrellas and sun loungers. It’s not only the perfect place to chill but is the perfect setting for meeting cute and handsome men. The beach is all the more sensuous since it’s clothing-optional! So, when you’re in the mood to check out people, plop down on the white sands and enjoy the sea breeze. After a workout session in the fitness room, you could either head down to the game room with a pool table or the hot tub, where more beautiful people await. Begin and end your day at the superb beachfront bar and restaurant, which serves everything from lip-smacking food and refreshing cocktails befitting the beach.
Whether you’re on a romantic vacation with your partner or holidaying with friends, the accommodations at this resort are perfect. Firstly, all rooms boast beach views and are spacious to boot. Secondly, they’re outfitted with all mod-cons. The resort outdoes its own hospitality and offers free perks like water, fruits, and drink vouchers. If you’re on a romantic getaway, we’d absolutely recommend the Absolute Beachfront Suite.
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Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
If you want a flashy and flamboyant gay vacation in Cairns, then the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino is for you. The high-end hotel is part of a lively entertainment complex in the heart of the town and goes all out when it comes to pizzazz. It even has a zip-lining operation on its rooftop dome, as well as a mini wildlife sanctuary on the property! If that isn’t flash, we don’t know what is.
It’s no surprise that such a swish resort is swarming with amenities and facilities, beginning with not one but three restaurants serving Thai, Australian, and Chinese fare. If you’re a party monster, then the casino and nightclub come highly recommended and provide excellent entertainment from evening onwards and late into the night. The heavenly rooftop swimming pool with sun loungers and umbrellas befit the sunny disposition of the town. After a swim or a dip, a soak in the spa pool or sauna seems like the perfect thing to do. The highlight, however, is the Cairns Wildlife Dome, complete with crocodiles, wallabies, and koalas.
You have the choice of many, many room types, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, garden balconies, and high-tech mod-cons. For the ultimate experience, go for the suites with balconies, jacuzzis, and spa baths.
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Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
Live like a celebrity at Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina, one of the poshest five-star gay accommodations in Cairns. With a vibrant atmosphere and sophisticated modern décor, this bay-side resort is among the hippest hotels in Cairns.
As you enter, you’ll be enamored by all the open areas decked out in a fashionable and sleek way. There’s extensive wooden decking all around, making for many areas to lounge and relax at the hotel. The highlight is the palm-fringed swimming pools, which are also peppered with a host of plush and comfy sun loungers. Order cocktails from the poolside bar and spend a languid afternoon enjoying a sip and a dip. After a swim, head to the jacuzzi right adjacent to it for a blissful soak. Besides a tour desk, the on-site restaurant and bar enjoy views of the marina and the ocean. They make for the perfect drinking and dining spots on the property.
The spacious rooms and suites at the hotel all feature balconies. Moreover, they enjoy unobstructed views of the gardens and pool, the marina and bay, or the mountains. Flat-screen TVs and minibars aside, the rooms, even entry-level ones, feature comfy bathrobes and slippers. We’d highly recommend upgrading to the Horizon Club room or suite that’ll get you complimentary Horizon Club breakfasts, canapés, and sundowners.
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Experience luxury in every sense of the world at Hilton, one of the best waterfront gay hotels in Cairns. It’s one of the handfuls of places in the town with an absolute waterfront location and is built around a gorgeous, open-air atrium. It possesses all amenities you’d expect from a modern, savvy leisure hotel and then some.
Being a bayfront hotel, Hilton goes all out to provide a sensational living experience. To begin with, the standout at the property is the outdoor lagoon-style pool and the spa pool. It’s sprinkled with comfy daybeds and loungers under umbrellas and is one of the prettiest spots to relax on the property. If you want to explore the surrounding region, then the tour desk is more than happy to make bookings for you. There’s even a fitness center if you don’t want to miss out on your workout regimen. After a day of sightseeing, head to the award-winning restaurant and bar on the waterfront for a refreshing sundowner followed by a delicious dinner.
That said, it’s the rooms at the Hilton that are a knockout. For a truly indulgent holiday, go for the spa suites, which not only have balconies but also massive hydrotherapy tubs for in-room decadence.
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Pullman Cairns International
Luxury meets practicality at the city center Pullman Cairns International, one of the best overall gay accommodations in Cairns. There’s so much to do at the hotel that you’re going to have a hard time stepping out. If you do step out, however, Cairn’s nightlife is right around. What’s more, you’re close to many of the top things to do in Cairns.
The waterfront accommodation impresses you right from the outset as you step into that jaw-dropping three-storied atrium. Do pamper yourself at the elegant Vie spa, which is one of the very few in the town. The Lobby Bar is perfect for sundowners and nightcaps, and it also has live music during the weekends. Moreover, the on-site restaurant is famous for its hearty breakfasts, besides its modern Australian meals. The highlight is definitely the outdoor swimming pool, which is flanked by lush tropical gardens.
Likewise, you’ll be impressed by the rooms at this hotel too. There’s a whole load of classy in-room touches like bespoke toiletries and fluffy bathrobes, even in the entry-level rooms. If you want to splash, we’d recommend the higher-floor executive suites, which also have discrete lounge areas and furnished balconies.
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Cairns Colonial Club Resort
If you want to get away from the hubbub and bustle of the town, then consider the Cairns Colonial Club Resort. It’s not only one of the more affordable gay hotels in Cairns but also lies on acres of lush grounds at that. The colonial-style resort is built around not one but three swimming pools, complete with a poolside café. The lush tropical gardens also open onto a manmade beach right on the property, with sands, palms, sun loungers, et al. Pool floats, which are a gift of the hotel, make lounging by the pool and the beach all the more fun.
If you’re the intrepid kind, then the games room, fitness center, and sports room will all immensely appeal to you. The on-site poolside restaurant and bar is the perfect place to begin your day with a hearty breakfast and end it with a round of delicious cocktails. Rounding up the amenities at this resort are a guest lounge to relax, a booking office to book tours, as well as a resort shop.
The rooms and suites, albeit simple and comfortably furnished, and some even have basic kitchenettes. Despite there being no spa on-site, you can order soothing in-room massages for yourself and your partner. Finally, you can even order in-house movies on flatscreen TVs.
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Cairns Harbor Lights Hotel
Are you looking for spacious apartment-like living combined with the facilities and comfort of a hotel? Then the Sebel Cairns Harbor Lights Hotel might just do the trick. One of the best condo-hotel-like gay accommodations in Cairns, this one offers privacy, space, and wallet-friendly living all in one package. You can choose from a bevy of refurbished rooms as well as one/two-bedroom apartments. Besides all being air-conditioned, they’re all stylishly designed and immaculately maintained. The one/two-bedroom apartments also have either kitchenettes or full kitchens, which are very useful for whipping up quick meals. Plus, they come with separate dining areas, as well as flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi.
Apart from all the privacy and space of the apartments, you also get the amenities of a full-sized hotel. So, there’s an outdoor terrace with a small pool and even a hot tub by the side. It’s a great way to simply relax on the property before heading out to your next sojourn. A gym and a sauna are ideal for fitness freaks, while leisure lovers can enjoy in-room massages. Finally, evenings can be spent enjoying grilling on the barbeques outside and enjoying an Australian sunset.
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Il Palazzo Boutique Apartment Hotel
Best gay-friendly boutique aparthotel. Cairns may be a long way from Europe, but the Il Palazzo Boutique Apartment Hotel offers a slice of European glamour on the Australian coast. The centrally-located colonial-style hotel is also one of the best gay hotels in Cairns, so LGBTQ travelers looking for an alluring Riviera-style holiday, you know where to head to!
A towering, six-foot-plus Italian marble statuesque replica of Michelangelo’s famed creation, David greets you right at the entrance, heralding what’s in store for you here. The Tuscan-themed central atrium will transport you right to the vineyards of Italy. Throughout the place, a litany of other intriguing objets d’art and bric-a-brac make their appearance everywhere, right from the restaurant and bar to the lush gardens. The standout is, undoubtedly, the mesmerizing and inviting pool that’s even heated in the winter. There’s even a gorgeous, most Instagrammable gazebo right beside. The rooftop sun deck with barbeque facilities is perfect to relax, no matter the time of the day. Finally, the staff is efficient and caters to every whim and fancy, including telling you the best things to do around.
You can choose from a set of self-contained yet stylish boutique apartments with soft color schemes and lovely views of the pool and the surrounding greenery. They also come with a whole host of mod-cons, laundry facilities, and fully-equipped kitchens.
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Bay Village Tropical Retreat & Apartments
The Bay Village Tropical Retreat & Apartments is one of the gay accommodations in Cairns. If you want to get away from the bustle and don’t mind the 15-minute walk downtown, then this place is the perfect base for exploring the Far North Queensland region. For one, there are many amenities and sociable public and communal spaces at this family-friendly complex. Lounge by the lovely outdoor lagoon swimming pool, which is peppered with pretty, white daybeds. The terrific on-site restaurant serves all meals, including well-crafted cocktails, to begin an evening of fun before heading out. Apart from free Wi-Fi everywhere, the apart-hotel even has an Internet area as well as a guest laundry.
The rooms here might be simple, but they’re spacious and elegant to boot. If you don’t mind dragging your luggage up the stairs, then the second-floor rooms are mightily quieter than the first-floor ones. Moreover, you’ll also find two/to three-bedroom apartments across the road. Nevertheless, the rooms all lie amidst lush tropical gardens and have flatscreen TVs and private ensuite bathrooms.
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Lilybank Bed & Breakfast
Best gay-friendly bed and breakfast. If you think it’s difficult to find a cute little bed-and-breakfast in a small town like Cairns, then think again. In fact, the Lilybank Bed & Breakfast is one of the gay hotels in Cairns you can stay at. The 1887-built, two-storied Queenslander cottage is a relaxed B&B today and possibly one of the prettiest stays in all of Cairns. It even has a good wee bit of history; it was once the home of the Mayor of Cairns in the early 1900s. Furthermore, it even served as the homestead for the first tropical fruit plantation in North Queensland.
Even though it has just six rooms, the communal areas are thoughtfully designed communal spaces. The wooden wraparound verandah is the ideal place to relax, day or night. Begin your day with a cup of coffee here and end it with a glass of wine while looking at the twinkling lights. Mornings begin in the alfresco breakfast area, where you can enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal. The guest lounge with a flat-screen TV, books, and board games is a fun way to spend time and get to know fellow guests. The best feature, however, is the lovely saltwater pool set on a brick patio and surrounded by trees. Moreover, you can even use the fridge in the well-equipped guest kitchen to store leftovers.
Each of the high-ceilinged, pristine rooms has a mini-fridge and an en-suite bathroom. The ones downstairs overlook the gardens and pool, while upstairs even have private balconies. It’s no wonder that this wonderful B&B is one of the highest-rated LGBTQ-friendly accommodations in Cairns.
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Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
Best luxurious gay-friendly resort. The laidback and relaxed Novotel Oasis Resort is one of the most luxurious gay accommodations in Cairns. Even though it lies right in the city center, the design of the resort lends it a distinct beach holiday feel. The upscale resort has a laundry list of facilities, starting from a striking lagoon pool. It even has a manmade sandy beach, complete with pool floats and sun loungers all around. What’s more, there’s even a swim-up bar from where you can order cocktails all afternoon long. Moreover, you’ll find a range of dining options here, right from casual ones to fine-dining romantic ones. Begin your day with a hearty spread for breakfast, which is included in the room rates. The on-site day spa is perfect for pampering and unwinding with a massage or a body treatment. Rounding up the facilities here are the barbeque area and the fitness center.
Just like other hotels from the same brand, the rooms are minimalist yet plush with all modern creature comforts, including a private balcony. The coffee-making facilities allow you to enjoy a quiet cup while enjoying the view in the morning, while minibars mean that you can have your own private party into the night.
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Since gay accommodation in Cairns ranges from smaller B&Bs and boutique hotels to larger resorts, there is no shortage of choices for you. However, chances are that you might prefer some kinds of hotels over others. That’s why we’ve come up with a specialized list below to help you decide.
- Best gay-friendly bed and breakfast: Lilybank Bed & Breakfast
- Best gay-friendly boutique aparthotel: Il Palazzo Boutique Apartment Hotel
- Best luxurious gay-friendly resort: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
- Best exclusive gay resort: Turtle Cove Beach Resort
Just So You Know:
- Cairns Tropical Pride is the largest LGBTQ event in North Queensland.
- The other gay hub in Far North Queensland is the LGBTQ-welcoming Port Douglas, which lies an hour north of Cairns.
Get Some Culture in Cairns:
- Cairns Tropical Pride — Cairns’ annual LGBT pride parade and festival feature a slew of activities. These include everything from fashion shows and art exhibitions to pool parties, boat cruises, and a fabulous parade.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Cairns:
- Turtle Cove Beach Resort: The SandBar at this resort is the only LGBTQ bar and nightclub in Cairns. They have everything from samba dancers and fire twirlers to drag shows, local DJs, and live bands. They even have an all-male nude week, moon parties, and even Pride pool parties.
- The Downunder Bar — This fun-filled, rowdy-ish pub has the whole package — karaoke, pool tables, pizza, and drinks. It even has karaoke on Thursday nights, so if you’re looking for something fun, then this is the place to be.
Best Gay Saunas in Cairns:
- Cairns Cruise Club — Cairns’ premier cruising club has a social video lounge, cubicles, lots of rooms, a sling room, and a maze! They even have two hot, steamy bedrooms. One has a massive vinyl-covered bed for group sessions and even lockable spy holes. Meanwhile, the other one has a single box bed, a viewing window in the video lounge, and a lockable glory hole. Wowza.