The Top 5 Family Resorts in Cairns

Hello, grab a cuppa and let me show you around the best family resorts Cairns has to offer. When you are planning a family holiday to cairns, you want to stay somewhere where you will have a real holiday, and that means a hotel, and one that is central to all of the fun things to do in Cairns. This post is long, so settle in and let me show you the best family accommodation in Cairns as trialled by myself and the kids over several visits.

Cairns lagoon pool
The famous (and free to enter) Lagoon is close to the first four family resorts Cairns listed here

Family Resorts Cairns General

Whilst there are all sorts of family resorts in this Far North Queensland city, many of them are not close to the city centre and to where the marina and jetty where boats leave for Great Barrier Reef trips. Only one of these makes my top five, even though many are much cheaper than the resorts I describe here. If budget is your main deciding factor then check out the bottom of the post where there is a Deals Finder, you might well find a bargain.

However, if you are on a bit of a dream holiday and you have the budget for one of the best family resorts in Cains, if not the cheapest, check out these below.

Why stay in central Cairns

  • It’s hot here and kids will complain if they have to walk far.
  • Actually so will the adults and teenagers.
  • No need to hire a car, which is a money saver and also I didn’t have to worry about the kids all fighting as I tried to drive around in unknown places – yes, that’s happened before and it’s hideous.
  • It’s easy to stroll down to the gorgeous boardwalk and Lagoon and to the excellent Muddy’s Playground on the Esplanade.
  • Many, many cafes, restaurants and shops are on the doorstep.
  • And many ice cream shops, I’ve never seen to many as there are in Cairns.
  • It’s not far to walk to the Marina to check out all the boat trips.
  • No problem being picked up from the resort for the zillions of activities you can do in Cairns.
  • Easy to walk to the huge shopping centre called Cairns Central, if you’ve been slack with your pre-holiday preparations, you can get anything you need there.
Riley Crystalbrook Cairns swimming pools 2
The Riley Crystalbrook is right on the waterfront in Cairns and a very short walk to the centre of everything

Riley Crystalbook 

I’m going to start at the top with a look at the best Cairns family resort I have stayed at, the Riley Crystalbrook. This resort is super family-friendly and in a wonderful position too, on the Cairns Esplanade and just a few minutes walk from the Lagoon, and the Reef Wharf Terminal, plus it’s very close to the excellent Muddy’s Playground.

Riley is the newest 5-star Cairns resort and it is making the other luxury resorts look a bit tired, I hate to say. It’s a gleaming and sparkling place with a massive series of pools that are all heaven for kids and families.  Pools toys and the huge bubbly spa pool, plus the beach area, shallow areas and lots of recliners make this resort pool a real standout. There is a 25m lap section too, though, it’s not all about the kids.

The Riley Crystalbook is taking its commintment to #sustainableluxury seriously with cartons of water (but bring your own bottle) and larger bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. We loved the cardboard coat hangers, and above all the wooden room key tags. Very cool.

All of the rooms at the Riley are spacious and very luxe. Families can have interconnecting rooms or suites which sleep up to six people.

The food is very modern and healthy, I loved a poke bowl brought up for room service. There is a cool and healthy cafe at Riley’s called Rocco, another cafe called Greenfields and then there’s the main Asian-inspired restaurant Paper Crane.

Address:  131-141 Esplanade, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia

Riley Crystalbrook Cairns swimming pools
Check out all the lounging areas and the beach area and pool toys. I took this photo very early in the morning before any people arrived. I was first in for a swim!

Check prices and dates at the Riley Crystalbrook on here.

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The large resort pool at the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

The Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

My kids and I spend a very happy week at the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort when the older boys were teenagers and the twins were only eight years old. All of them could swim well so, as soon as we arrived after our long sweaty flight from Sydney, we jumped straight into the fantastic resort pool.

Novotel cairns pool splash
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I knew we need to stay in a super-central location so that the teens could get themselves around town independently. And I needed all the facilities of a resort because… I needed a break from that horrendously monotonous domesticity. Here are our top 10 fave things about this lovely family resort hotel.

1.  It’s a real resort but right in the heart of Cairns. So you’ve got the advantages of a resort (ie kids play for hours in the pool whilst I read a book) yet can walk to shops, the Marina, Esplanade and major shopping centre all within 5-10 minute walk.

2. The lagoon leisure pool is really fantastic. It has a large area of beach and water toys are provided. My little ones spend hours and hours in the pool playing together and with other kids.

3. We love the resort touches like a small swim-up bar at the pool, and there’s also a poolside cafe called Aqua, open from noon each day, so long as the weather is fine. You can order drinks, lunch and snacks at Aqua, and no need to get out of your cossie.

4. You pay half price for a second room for a family... that is just great, makes a big difference in price. I won’t review the rooms here as I plan to post a video review of the rooms separately.

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5. Healthy food on offer everywhere. I’m impressed with the commitment to healthy eating. Menus makes clear which meals are the healthiest options, with a focus on low GI choices. The room service menu has a healthy choices section available from 6pm – 10pm. It’s also easy to find vegetarian and gluten free options. Kids meals include boneless grilled fish fillet, steak with baked potato, spaghetti with tomato or bolognaise sauce, and these are served with little bowls of chopped raw veggies.

6. Novo Bar is on the ground floor of the hotel and is open from 5pm til late. This is a really comfy area with wicker chairs and a very child-friendly space with toys for kids. Lots of families spent time here in the evenings. You can order light meals and snacks here too, the teenagers liked the independence of getting their evening meal here by themselves some evenings.

7. Mizuma Restaurant  is a full service restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel, open for dinner from 6pm. There’s a good range of a la carte meals to be found here; we loved the papardelle pasta and the barramundi was delicious.

8. Buffet breakfasts, my kids favourite. Mine too. The teenagers did think that breakfast closing at 10am was a bit harsh, they could joyfully sleep until 11am. But they make sure they get up to eat the cooked breakfasts they love. I preferred the very cute dessert type individual serves of muesli and yoghurt and even rice pudding- very tasty.  Breakfast is served in Mizuma.

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My idea of a healthy breakfast.


Kids’ idea of a healthy breakfast.

9. 24-hour room service, which is so handy when you have kids with you. My twins are too feral to take out when they are exhausted in the evenings and they wear themselves out on trips and in the resort pool. So if it is later than 6pm, they simply have a room service meal. They think this is a huge treat. I had some room service meals too, or left them with a teen in the rooms and went to Mizuma with my older son; civilised.

10. Children’s play areas. In both Mizuma and in Novo Bar there are area with toys for kids. A real life saver for families with young kids and they were being used a lot. There is no kids club as such at this resort, but plenty to keep kids of all ages busy and happy.

Check prices for the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort on here.

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11. Free wifi in the public areas like the lobby, cafes and by the pool. This was especially great for the teenagers who couldn’t survive without being digitally connected. You can also pay to have an internet connection in the rooms but we haven’t.

12. School holiday activities like cupcake making, free ice cream by the pool, and, much to my daughter’s joy loom band activities.

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13. In-house coin-operated laundry, so handy for families. Plus Austar in all rooms, great for my cartoon-loving, sports-mad kids.

There is also a spa at the resort, with a tempting menu of treatments. I didn’t make it there though! My teens loved using the resort gym but I did not get there myself.

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The view from our room – lovely.

Find out availability and prices for the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort on here.

Shangi La pool

Shangri-La The Marina Cairns

The very deluxe Shangri-la is terrific for families due to its very central location and because the rooms are spacious and the facilities are excellent. It is right beside the Esplanade, the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal and close to the Lagoon. You are right in the midst of all the fun stuff!

Up on the rook of the resort you will find the spacious pool complex too; there is a very large resort pool , as well as a big bubbly spa and the shallow children’s wading pool.

All rooms have a balcony and families can book connecting rooms or suites. The Shangri-La has several bars, cafes and restaurants and is right alongside the waterfront shopping and dining precinct called The Pier Cairns.

Address: Pierpoint Road Cairns, Queensland 4870

Book the Shangri-La Cairns if you:

  • Need to be very close to all the joys of the Reef Fleet Terminal and the Marlin Marina
  • Prefer larger sized rooms and a balcony, which all rooms have
  • Want to be just a short walk from the city centre
  • Like a wide range of places to eat, the Shangri-La has four restaurants and bars. There is also the adjoining Pier complex, with even more restaurants and cafes.

Find the Shangri-La The Marina Cairns on here.

The Hilton Cairns

pool at hilton cairns one of the cairns family resorts we like
The curving 50 metre pol at the Hilton Cairns

Address: 34 The Esplanade, Cairns

The superb location, the excellent swimming pool and the five star facilities make the Hilton Cairns a good resort for families in Cairns. This resort is just right alongside the Cairns Esplanade Reef Fleet Terminal so you are as close as you can be the boats that can take you out for Great Barrier Reef trips.

It is also super close to the Lagoon and to lots of cafes and restaurants.

The swimming pool at the Cairns Hilton is a wriggly snake of a pool, 50 metres so the adults can do laps and the kids can splash joyfully., there’s also a large spa beside it.

There are lovely walks from here. Walk south along the walkway enjoying the beautiful artworks to a very cool kids’ playground and Wharf One Cafe plus the very spacious Hemingways Brewery.

Check out prices and availability for the Hilton Cairns on here.

BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut

Address: 23-51 Anderson Road, Woree Cairns, QLD

If you have a car with you or are happy to hire one (which you won’t need to do if you stay in the centre of Cairns) then this is the best family resort Cairns has beyond the heart of town.

The award-winning BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut offers cabins, units, condos and large villas, sleeping families with up to 10 people. There is a bar here and takeaway food is available, as well as the option to cook in your own kitchen of course.

There is a massive swimming pool with water playground at Coconuts, plus all sorts of games and activities too.

Check dates and prices at Big 4 Ingenia Cairns Coconut on here.

Cairns Resorts Deals Finder

If you would like to see more options for:

  • Cairns family accommodation
  • Cairns family resorts
  • Cairns family holiday
  • Cairns resorts
  • Cairns accommodation deals
  • Cairns family holiday packages

Or if you are looking for a bargain, check out this Deals Finder.

Palm Cove Family Resorts

Just a 30-minute drive north of Cairns, Palm Cove is a very popular place for family holidays. My own family has not stayed here however I have many friends who rave about saying at a Palm Cove resort hotel instead of staying at a resort in Cairns itself.

Check out availability and pricing on the map widget from below.

Here are some useful links for families planning a visit to Cairns and Far North Queensland.

Find our recommendations for a terrific family cruise to the Great Barrier Reef here.

Check out all the fun things to do in Cairns with teenagers here. Do not miss the fantastic Muddy’s Playground!

Tropical North Queensland is the official Queensland tourism site for this area. You will find information on heaps of fun Cairns family activities there.

Happy holiday planning!

We hope you find a fabulous Cairns family resort!

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