The City of Cairns does not have a beach. The beaches are all to the north of the city and known as the Northern Beaches.
The lagoon has been a huge hit with locals and visitors since opening. The BBQs are very popular so get there well before dark to ensure you can find a free table.
From the Esplanade Lagoon to the northern end of the Esplanade is a little over 2km. Going in the other direction, along the walk between the lagoon and the sea-wall takes you past the GBR Helicopter landing pontoon to the Cairns Yacht Club on the left and The SaltHouse on the right. Continue straight on to the northern finger wharf of the marina. This is a popular place for fishing. At the end of the finger you will often see superyachts berthed.
Turn right at the Cairns Yacht Club for the boardwalk which runs between the Cairns Shangri-La Hotel and the Marlin Marina. The boardwalk continues past The Reef Terminal, the restaurants below the Harbour Lights apartment building to the popular garden bistro bar Mondos. Walk past Mondos, which is part of the Hilton Hotel, for the old timber wharf which is another popular fishing spot. Just beyond is the Wharf One Cafe on the left and the big Fig tree on the right which is a fun place for kids because timber steps go right up to a platform in the crown of the tree. Beyond the figtree is the main cruise liner wharf and the Cruise Terminal.
There are fitness activities every morning from early on near the Lagoon. Come along and join in - there are classes for Zumba, aerobics, meditation and Pilates. Further along the esplanade there is an excellent skating bowl and 2 volley ball courts.
Fishing at the north end of the esplanade is possible when the tide is in but the most popular place is on the north finger of the Marlin Marina and off the old wharf between the Hilton Hotel and the Cruise Terminal.
The Cairns mudflats are an internationally important feeding ground for shore birds and waders migrating to and from NE Asia.
The best times of day on the esplanade are dawn and dusk. Dawn because there are less people. It is peaceful and the air is cool and clear.
In the evening everyone comes out to play. The evening light is soft and warm - a great time for photography.
Joggers, skate boarders, people walking their dogs and the BBQs are busy. The seawall beside the lagoon is a popular spot to watch people or see the spectacle of a thousand flying foxes circling before heading off for their nightly forage. Further north, past the timber boardwalk are the volley-ball courts and the skate board bowls.
Bring a picnic and make use of one of the many free BBQs or choose one of the many restaurants between Shields St and Aplin St.