3 Best Hostels in Cairns, Australia the complete guide and overview for backpackers and solo travellersA trip to tropical far north Queensland: your gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the 3 best hostels in Cairns.

Cairns is incredibly backpacker friendly with its esplanade lined with bars, restaurants and a public swimming pool.

Your Shortcut:

  1. Bounce Cairns – best for female solo-travellers
  2. Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns – best for solo-travellers
  3. Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront – best for party

Surrounding the city there is outstanding natural beauty on all sides – do you prefer the beach, rainforest or gorges?

And boy, are Cairns backpackers in for a treat when it comes to hostels!

We condensed it all to the 3 coolest ones. No need to do hours of research anymore!

This guide is perfect for YOU, when …

  • tired of bad and crappy hostels
  • want to avoid the “young party kids”
  • happy to spend 1-2€ for a better experience

Keep scrolling to discover pure luxury, everyday party thrills and wonderful options for solo travellers and backpackers.

Hostelgeek Kelly spent some time in Cairns and has put together some top tips to help you make the best of your time.

We cover in this article:

Make sure you read our complete guide to the best hostels in Australia – including an itinerary suggestion!

Quick Introduction to Cairns Hostels

Average price for a bed: A bed in a dorm can be as cheap as 15€ up to 45€ per night. You see, there is quite a difference in pricing. There is a good reason; keep reading.

This is a rough average to give you an idea. Prices always depend on season and holidays. Please always check exact rates on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Check-In and Check Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3pm), while the Check Out time is before 11:00 (11am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost.

Who can stay: Many hostels in Cairns only accept international guests. It’s also quite common that hostels accept over 18s only. Check before you book.

Party Hostels: There are many party hostels Cairns can offer. Make sure you pick your right hostel type.

New to Hostels? Read our full hostel starter guide here. We especially recommend to read:

International backpackers only aged +18

3 Best Hostels in Cairns

Snorkel at the ready; let’s dive straight in!

The 3 best hostels in Cairns are:

  1. Bounce Cairns (formally The Northern Greenhouse)
  2. Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns
  3. Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront

1. Bounce Cairns (one huge social space with a pool)

Take your shoes off at the door and make yourself at home at Bounce Cairns, formally known as The Northern Greenhouse.

Bounce Hostel Cairns has mixed-gender and single-sex dorms with bunk beds sleep up to 6, and offer free Wi-Fi, mini fridges and en suite bathrooms, as well as balconies or terraces.

This resort style hostel beams bright, big spaces that match the smile on staff faces.

Cairns backpackers will love this place – there’s a pool and a huge social hang-out area.

But you know; it’s not limited to backpackers. Female solo travellers will surely love the ladies-only-dormitories.

Book Bounce Cairns here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Every room (yes every) is labelled Deluxe. Why?

Well because you’ll have your very own en-suite bathroom and air-con, plus a private balcony or courtyard garden. Super cool!

Read: Hostel Room Types – What are the Differences?

The entire social space is joined together, creating a huge area to relax, cook, play games and get to know like-minded people.

What else makes Bounce Cairns awesome?

  • The staff arranges day + night events
  • Reception is 24/7
  • Free breakfast
  • There’s an outdoor bar on-site

The bar is where you’ll find super cheap drinks and friendly vibes.

If you’re struggling to choose the perfect reef experience, pop into the tour desk and enquire – they’re keen to help you out!

Cairns Esplanade is but a 5-minute walk where everything you need is located. Easy.

Bounce Cairns is the best hostel in Cairns for:

  • Female solo travellers
  • Friends
Book Bounce Cairns here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Bounce Cairns one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

2. Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns (party like never before)

You know that never-ending bucket list of yours? Well, it’s probably best that you add Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns to it.

If you plan on visiting Cairns Gilligans Backpackers is a good place to stay.This hostel is all about the thrill-seeking traveller! 

Forever trying to stay ahead of the rest, awesome new additions are always being added such as the latest unisex fitness centre.

Heck, we’re not sure where to start as Gilligan’s really does seem to have it all.

Book Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Let’s start by noting that THIS HOSTEL IS HUGE.

Choose between 6, 8 and 10-beds dorms which are both mixed and female only. Twin private and double deluxe rooms are also available.

Great inclusions:

  • FREE airport transfer (between 8 am and 8 pm)!
  • Ladies powder room w/ hair dryers
  • Evening meals for just $10

Gilligans hostel Cairns can definitely be described as buzzing. There are events held here every single night of the week!

Jelly wrestling, beer pong, clubs nights, wet T-shirt competitions, beer and pizza… it’s all happening here and more.

Note: If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, ask about a room on the second floor.

It’s fair (and easy) to label this as backpackers hostel Cairns. Wait no; the BEST party hostel Cairns could offer and possibly Australia.

When you’re not partying; rest easy by the stunning lagoon swimming pool to recover ready for the next event…!

This pure entertainment venue hosts an open deck bar, huge outdoor pub screen and plenty of plasma TVs.

Read: Hostel Etiquette – 18 Unwritten Hostel Rules You Need to Know

Looking for work? The staff will be able to assist you and help put money in your pocket.

The famous Rusty’s market is just around the corner alongside heaps of shops, cafes and clubs.

Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns is the best hostel in Cairns for:

  • Solo travellers
  • Party animals
Book Gilligan’s Backpacker here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

3. Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront (modern, chill vibes)

Our third hostel choice is built on a family atmosphere and was fully refurbished in 2017.

Welcome to Mad Monkey Backpackers Village.

If you’re looking for bright, modern accommodation that is fun and affordable, look no further.

Book Mad Monkey Backpackers here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

The deluxe private rooms here are perfect for travelling couples that love to socialise.

Forget privacy curtains for a minute; we love that Mad Monkey maintain the old bunk style.

You’ll still get a personal locker, USB port, linen and air-con so no comfort is jeopardised!

Mad Monkey actually has another hostel just 5-minutes away. Yet we chose Waterfront because we feel it offers a more relaxed vibe, with almost all the same inclusions.

Desperate for a swim? Access is granted for all the amenities in the sister hostel – there’s a pool awaiting you there.

Check out the excellent freebies:

  • Ultra-fast free WiFi
  • Hot breakfast
  • Large lockers (BYO padlock)
  • Free bicycle hire
  • Local gym access

If you’re feeling sociable, join the Mad Family and check out the weekly events board. It changes constantly so it can never baget boring!

Next, to the fully fitted kitchen, you’re free to chill out in the cinema and gaming area for a bit of downtime. Sometimes it’s just needed.

Once again the location is tip top right on the Cairns Esplanade. The public lagoon is your second swimming choice if you stay here – win!

Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront is the best hostel in Cairns for:

  • Couples
  • Small groups
Book Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront one of the best hostels in Cairns, Australia

Best Hostel for Cairns Backpackers?

Looking to unload that heavy backpack, relax a little and join one or two sociable nights out?

Travellers Oasis is a cosy, home-from-home choice just off the Esplanade. It is also considered to be one of the best backpacker hostels.

Picture lush tropical gardens, swimming pool, a BBQ during sunset, hammocks and outstanding staff poised ready to help with anything.

Awesome: you’ll find no bunk beds here and a maximum of 50 guests.

Also,  if you want air conditioning you can have it for additional charge!party

Psst! We’d hate for you to miss out if fully booked: Tropic Days is the sister hostel of Travellers Oasis and offers all of the same wonders.

Book Travellers Oasis here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Travellers Oasis one of the best hostels in Cairns for backpackers

Best Hostels in Cairns for Solo Travellers

Well it’s quite easy to make a few suggestions for the best hostel Cairns can offer for solo travellers.

It just depends on which vibe your aiming for!

Honestly, after substantial research it seems most hostels in Cairns are built with the solo traveller in mind – great news for you.

More Cairns Hostels worth a mention

To assist you further, we are giving you more hostels in Cairns Australia. We have listed the best hostels in Cairns Australia. So, have a look of what we have.

  • Caravella Backpackers Cairns
  • Globetrotters International Backpackers
  • Cairns City Backpackers Hostel
  • Tropic Days Backpackers

Caravella Backpackers Cairns

Caravella Backpackers Cairns is a beautiful and clean hostel.

Enjoy the scenic view and peaceful area of the Esplanade- away from the noise of the clubs, bars and traffic- but only an easy 10 minute walk to the main attractions, the Pier and Cairns City center.

The staff are very friendly and helpful, price is great and the rooms are clean. The hostel offers great value for money.

They also show their care to their backpackers by having a free airport shuttle service and nightly meal deals.

Most popular facilities include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Airport shuttle (free)
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Restaurant
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking
Book Caravella Backpackers Cairns here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Globetrotters International Backpackers

Globetrotters International Backpackers is confident that they only offer world class experience to backpackers in Crains.

The location is also good since it is a 10-minute walk from the popular Cairns Esplanade Lagoon. Travellers can relax on the sun terrace and enjoy the cool waters of the outdoor pool, and garden areas.

There are multiple shared kitchens and bathrooms, common areas and laundry facilities available.

What’s interesting in this hostel is that they are sun powered hostel and they use natural, organic and bio cleaning products, recycling programs, help save the environment!

Most popular facilities include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Airport shuttle (free)
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Restaurant
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking
  • Free Breakfast
Book Globetrotters International Backpackers here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Cairns City Backpackers Hostel

Cairns City Backpackers Hostel is a brilliant budget hostel in Cairns. It is also has a good location, 25-minute walk from The Esplanade.

Relax in its tropical gardens and have fun with your travel buddies in their outdoor swimming pool.

Staff are really friendly and happy to help with anything you need and the atmosphere in the hostel is good.

They have everything you need like WiFi, computers, hot showers, bbq, pool, and more.

Most popular facilities include:

  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking
  • Outdoor pool
Book Cairns City Backpackers Hostel here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Tropic Days Backpackers

Tropic Days Backpackers is located 1 km from Cairns Railway Station and is a 20-minute walk from Cairns Esplanade and Cairns Pier.

Feel at home and relax in the Tropic Days Backpackers. They have common rooms where you can meet travellers around the world.

The hostel is relatively small, but sociable and quiet. The hostel is also very clean. Hang out in the TV room with your hostel buddies, get cooking home comforts in the guest kitchen or even get through that pile of laundry!

Most popular facilities include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Airport shuttle
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking
Book Tropic Days Backpackers here

Compare prices and read reviews at: Booking.com | Hostelworld

Top Tips for Visiting Cairns

After spending some time in Cairns, Kelly put together some useful tips to help you make the best of your time in this tropical paradise.

Great Barrier Reef

No doubt this is one of the number one reasons you’re going to Cairns. Choosing a reputable company can be difficult when you’re faced with so many choices.

Scuba Diving: It’s well worth heading north to Port Douglas to dive off the reefs there. I personally dived with Quicksilver Dive and found the company to be safe, reliable and conscious of reef conservation.

Snorkelling: You needn’t swim too deep in order to see the beauty of the reef.

There’s this beautiful wooden pearl lugger called Falla Reef Trips that does daily tours from Cairns.

The renowned Captain, Doug, also offers volunteering opportunities for backpackers.

 

Surrounding Natural Beauty of Cairns

Sure, the city is packed full cool cafes and fun events, but you really should take the time to explore further afield – you won’t regret it.

Gorges, waterfalls, stunning beaches and excellent hiking trails await you.

Beautiful places I recommend are:

  • Barron Falls
  • Daintree Rainforest (oldest living rainforest in the world)
  • Mossman Gorge
  • Cape York
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Little Mulgrave National Park

Tip: consider renting a car to make all of these places more easily accessible.

Where are all the Beaches in Cairns?

It may or may not come as a shock when you arrive at Cairns only to find a busy estuary and narrow strip of sand. But fear not!

Against popular belief, stunning beaches are within easy reach of the city. Buddy up with fellow best backpackers in Cairns and share fuel costs – it’s a 25-minute drive to the nearest beach.

Make sure you visit:

  1. Trinity Beach (high chance of spotting Green Turtles near the rocks)
  2. Palm Cove Beach
  3. Clifton Beach
  4. Yorkey’s Knob

These are just some of the beaches locally known as the Northern Beaches. Staff at your hostel will help you get there.

Trinity Beach in Cairns, Australia

Beware: This is Croc Country

Yep, you’re in Australia now and crocodiles are no joke.

Jellyfish, snakes, sharks – they’re all out to get you in Cairns!

But before we scare you too much, losing a leg is completely unavoidable as long as you play your cards right.

I don’t doubt your personal safety radar, but being surrounded by dangerous wildlife can be a little unnerving. Just make sure you…

  1. Always take notice of warning signs
  2. Never swim outside of designated areas unless told its safe
  3. Wear proper shoes when hiking to avoid snake bites

That is if you even see a potentially dangerous animal! It’s surprised me how little I saw little beasties so it’s easy to become nonchalant.

Nine times out of ten the animal doesn’t want to hurt you, so don’t give it any reason to do so. Keep your distance and think twice about that selfie with a crocodile.

Any Discounts?

Currently, we have no special hostel discounts in Cairns. We know, it’s a pity.

Subscribe to our newsletter in the meantime and await the newest discounts to hit your inbox.

We also do have a 35€ discount for Airbnb here.

Map of Hostel Locations + TOP Sights

This handy Cairns Australia map is designed to make your life easier. Hostels, beaches, top sights – they’re all pinpointed for you.

The top things to do in Cairns include:

  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Kuranda  Scenic Railway
  • Barron Falls
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Cairns Esplanade
  • Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
  • Birdworld Kuranda
  • Daintree Rainforest
  • Cairns Night Markets
  • Rusty’s Markets

They are indeed the best of Cairns.

Not keen on renting a car? Take a 2-day Tabelands, Cape Tribulation & Daintree Tour.

There are many, many options for exploring the Great Barrier Reef here.

FAQ

Alright, you should have found your accommodation already. Below we list all the frequently asked questions. Have a look.

What are the best hostels in Cairns for solo travellers?

There are a lot of great hostels in Cairns for solo travellers but these are our personal favorites!

Are hostels in Cairns safe?

All hostels in this article do their best to ensure safety of guests. They have a range of policies and initiatives in place to protect the backpackers and Cairns travellers.

So in all fairness, it is best to check out Hostelgeeks.com because we feature safe hostels in Cairns. You can find backpacker hostel with top ratings! Keep a close eye on the overall ratings on booking platforms!

If you are not secure, you can also send us an email and ask us!

What are the best hostels in Cairns?

You can find the best Cairns hostels in this article!

  1. Bounce Cairns – best for female solo-travellers
  2. Gilligan’s Backpacker Hotel & Resort Cairns – best for solo-travellers
  3. Mad Monkey Backpackers Waterfront – best for party

What is Cairns best known for?

Cairns is a laid-back city best enjoyed outdoors. It is known for a lot of things but we have listed the top sights to visit for you..

The top things to do in Cairns include:

  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Kuranda  Scenic Railway
  • Barron Falls
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Cairns Esplanade
  • Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
  • Birdworld Kuranda
  • Daintree Rainforest
  • Cairns Night Markets
  • Rusty’s Markets

How much are hostels in Cairns?

According to Hostelworld.com, a hostel in Cairns costs $10 per night.

Prices may vary depending on season.

What are the best sites for finding hostels?

Of course, the best hostel websites are Hostelgeeks! Or at least, we like to think so.

We are doing our best to deliver the best hostels to you. Check out the best hostels in the world guides; from Paris to Tokyo.

Obviously, Hostelworld is a great platform for finalizing your reservations.

Flights to Cairns?

The airport is thankfully not too far from the centre of Cairns.

There is a regular shuttle bus running to and fro, as well as taxis and care hire. It will take about 15-minutes to get to Cairns central.

We enjoy Kiwi.com to find cheap flights all over Oceania including Cairns and Sydney.

This new website has super cool features like a so-called radius search. Just draw a circle over Europe and find the cheapest rates for the area.

Here is our review of Kiwi.

Cheap Flights in Australia and New Zealand

More epic hostels in Australia

Okay, now that we have covered Cairns hostels, there is more for you.

We wrote up big guide to the best hostels in Australia.

Find the coolest hostels in

Heading to central Australia? Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Alice Springs.

Heading over to NZ? Then make sure you read our complete guide to best hostels in New Zealand.

Over to you

So then, how do you like the Cairns hostels?

Perhaps something was left untouched or you’re left unsure.

Your question(s) will help me to understand what I have missed to mention. You will have your questions answered and will help make this article even more awesome.

Therefore, do not be shy, drop us a comment, we are keen to help you!

Last note: Our commitment

This is a genuine article to help you travel a bit smarter and find the best place on a budget! We ONLY recommend places we know you will enjoy, no matter what.

We will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. We only share with you places we also recommend to our best friends and family!

Enjoy this fine hostel selection and all 5 Star Hostels.

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3 Best Hostels in Cairns, Australia the complete guide and overview for backpackers and solo travellers

Your Smart Packing List

It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.

The most important things to pack are: Read the full packing list here. Download Hostel Packing List