A Travel Price Comparison for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons Cairns vs. Byron Bay

Should you visit Cairns or Byron Bay?

Should I visit Cairns or Byron Bay? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Cairns

Most travelers go to Cairns specifically to visit Great Barrier Reef. The city itself is surprisingly large and cosmopolitan with a population of approximately 140,000. The city's economy is almost exclusively based on tourism, although you will find some jobs centered around agriculture, or more specifically sugar cane, bananas, coffee, tea, wine, and some tropical fruits. The city itself is surrounded by rainforest and makes a great base for exploring Kuranda, with the Barron Gorge National Park and the Daintree offering a quieter tropical getaway than Cairns.

Byron Bay

South of Brisbane, off the Pacific Highway, is the coastal town of Byron Bay. It is close to Cape Byron, which is the easternmost point in mainland Australia. Byron Bay makes its way onto most traveler's itineraries because of its wonderful beach activities. The area is world famous for its waves, making it popular with surfers, but it also has incredible scuba diving, whale watching, and a generally relaxed atmosphere. The area continues to rise in popularity with travelers and as such, amenities and facilities are popping up everywhere.

Which city is cheaper, Byron Bay or Cairns?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Cairns is $79, while the average daily cost in Byron Bay is $127. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Cairns and Byron Bay in more detail.




Accommodation

An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $64 in Cairns For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.

The average price for accommodation for two people in Byron Bay is $110. This is for two people sharing a typical double occupancy hotel room.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cairns $32
    Byron Bay $55
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cairns $64
    Byron Bay $110


Food

Food in Cairns costs travelers about $25 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.

Byron Bay food costs typically run travelers around $51 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Cairns $25
    Byron Bay $51

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cairns

For Cairns, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Spirit of Dinner Cruise: $77
  • Cairns Aquarium by Twilight with 3 Course Dinner: $99
  • Small-Group Afternoon Cairns City Tour with Harbour Dinner Cruise: $154

Typical Food prices in Byron Bay

Some typical examples of dining costs in Byron Bay are as follows:


  • Dinner at Olivo (for 2)
    $69

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Byron Bay

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Byron Bay.

  • Mount Warning Sunrise Climb Including Overnight Camping and BBQ Dinner: $166
  • Byron Bay Kayaking with Dolphins and Mount Warning Sunrise Climb Including Overnight Camping and BBQ Dinner: $224
  • Byron Bay Surfing Lesson and Mount Warning Sunrise Climb Including Overnight Camping and BBQ Dinner: $224


Local Transportation

Cairns's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $8.60 per person, per day on transportation in Cairns.

The average price of local transportation around Byron Bay is $23 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cairns $8.60
    Byron Bay $23

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cairns

Also for Cairns, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Airport Transfers between Cairns Airport and Cairns City: $14
  • Express Private Transfer from Cairns Airport to Cairns City: $22
  • Port Douglas Transfers from Cairns: $49
  • Airport Transfer - Cairns City To Airport: $53
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $62
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport -Trinity Beach.: $71
  • Cairns Airport transfer to Cairns City: $76
  • Luxury Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Palm Cove.: $89
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns City - Cairns Airport: $89
  • Premium Van, Private Transfer, Cairns Airport - Trinity Beach: $107
  • Cairns Airport (CNS) Departure Transfer (Cairns Hotels to Cairns CNS Airport): $112
  • Port Douglas Transfers between Cairns Airport & Port Douglas (Private Chauffeur): $118

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Byron Bay

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Byron Bay:

  • Private Byron Bay Transfer to Gold Coast Airport 7am-6pm: $79


Entertainment

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Cairns can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $38 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.

Byron Bay's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $41 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cairns $38
    Byron Bay $41
Typical Entertainment prices in Cairns

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Cairns's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Scuba Diving
    $42

Tours and Activities in Cairns

For Cairns, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome Entry Ticket: $20
  • Cairns Self-Guided Audio Tour: $20
  • Cairns Aquarium Admission Ticket: $35
  • Paronella Park Ticket: $36
  • Cairns 90-Minute Sunset Cruise with Welcome Drink: $37
  • Cairns 2-Hour Harbor Cruise with Afternoon Tea: $37
  • From Kuranda Scenic Railway Train Tickets: $41
  • Paronella Park and Mamu Tropical Skywalk Ticket Combo: $50
  • Half-Day Rainforest River Tubing Adventure: $56
  • City Sunset Bike Tour: $56
  • Kuranda: 1-Hour Rainforest ATV Tour: $58
  • Fitzroy Island Full-Day Adventure Tour from Cairns: $62

Typical Entertainment prices in Byron Bay

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Byron Bay are as follows:


  • Buddha Gardens Spa (for 2)
    $147
  • Surf Lesson
    $50

Tours and Activities in Byron Bay

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Byron Bay are as follows:

  • 3-Hour Dolphin Spotting Kayak Tour in Byron Bay: $56
  • 3-Hour Kayak with the Dolphins Tour: $56
  • 3-Hour Sea Turtle Snorkeling Experience in Byron Bay: $78
  • 3-Hour Small-Group Byron Bay Tour: $67
  • 5 hour - Byron Bay Cycling Tour + Lunch: $150
  • 5-Hour Byron Bay Introductory Scuba Diving Tour: $170
  • Beyond Byron Hinterland Tour: $134
  • Byron Bay 3-Hour Certified Dive Tour: $119
  • Byron Bay Combo: Hinterland Tour Including Minyon Falls and Kayaking with Dolphins: $182
  • Byron Bay Half-Day Tour: $72
  • Byron Bay Hinterland Tour Including Rainforest Walk to Minyon Falls: $124
  • Byron Bay Lighthouse and Hinterland Tour: $74


Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Cairns spend on average $8.50 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

The average person spends about $7.93 on alcoholic beverages in Byron Bay per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cairns $8.50
    Byron Bay $7.93

Sample the Local Flavors in Cairns

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Cairns:

  • Tablelands Food & Wine Tour: $233

Sample the Local Flavors in Byron Bay

Also in Byron Bay, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Afternoon session Brewery and Distillery tour in Byron Bay: $116
  • Full Barrel Brewery and Distillery tour: $141



When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cairns and Byron Bay, we can see that Byron Bay is more expensive. And not only is Cairns much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cairns would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cairns and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Byron Bay would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Byron Bay than you might in Cairns.

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Cairns vs. Byron Bay Travel Comparison

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