Cairns Night Life

three wolves cairns

With such a vibrant nightlife, Cairns certainly has numerous nightclubs and pubs to visit. 

​Here is my top 5 bars in Cairns, but read down to see details on many more.

  • The Pier Bar
  • Flamingos Tiki Bar
  • The Jack
  • Hemingway’s
  • Three Wolves​​ 

​The Pier Bar

Location, location, location.  This very busy bar is situated at Pier Point overlooking the water and is about a 50 meters walk from the lagoon. Just in front of the bar is also ‘GBR Helicopters’ helipad, which makes for some cool viewing during the day when having a pint. 

​Speaking of pints, get there between 5 and 7 pm to take advantage of the happy hour which gets you $5 Pints and $5.50 basic spirits. 

Most people have fallen trap to the end of the happy hour, as in, drinks get pretty expensive after that but you are having such a good time you no longer care.  That is, until you check your bank account the next morning.

pier bar cairns

Flamingos Tiki Bar

If you are looking for something a little different this hole in the wall could be just what you need.  Cocktails are the specialty here and they take great pride in their work. The drinks are all prepared fresh right in front of you with more than a little touch of flare.

Pyrotechnics are frequently used to create the flavour that goes into making the Tiki Bar worthy of our Top 5 list.  

This little bar is so small and exclusive that you would be lucky to fit 20 people inside.  It is located underneath Bushfire restaurant and shares the toilet facilities with the restaurant which is a bit of a walk.  

Drinks are pricey too, so with the addition of the walk to the toilet I would advise not settling in here.   It’s great for one or two then it will be time to move on.

cairns tiki bar

The Jack

Do you like sports?  Well this is the place for you!​UFC, AFL, NRL, Formula 1, Darts and anything else you can imagine.  This is Cairns only real sports bar with the full premium Foxtel subscription.  If it’s happening, it’s on at The Jack.

This is predominately a backpacker bar which means drinks and food are cheap.  It is half indoor and half outdoor with a great atmosphere, especially on big game days and fight nights.

Also, if you like a cheeky punt on the pokies, this place seems to be pretty lucky.

the jack cairns

Hemingway’s Brewery

Starting in Port Douglas, this very modern micro-brewery opened up an old warehouse style brew house / bar right on the docks at Cairns Wharf.  Rather successfully too.

First and foremost, drinks are expensive.  Expect to pay around $10 for a beer, but putting the price in the back of your mind makes it rather easy to fall in love with this place. 

It’s massive, legitimately about 150 meters from one end to the other with two bars inside.   The beers are the star of the show here and they proudly make them in-house. They have a good variety which should please any beer lover and combined with a delicious food menu, this really should be everyone’s first port of call for the start of a night.

Three Wolves

I guess you could say this is the best bar, but only if like me, you like bourbon.  You see, this is a premium bar filled with premium drinks from all over the world. They use some theatrics though the real treasure of this place is the liquor itself.  If it is bourbon and it exists….. they have it. If it’s not bourbon you seek, don’t worry they will have that too.

This is a small bar hidden down a little lane way that definitely attracts a more mature crowd.  The music is soft and the conversation flows over exquisite drinks, although if you are not a lawyer or doctor don’t worry, nobody in Cairns is.  This is simply as classy as Cairns can offer.

You will find students mingling with surgeons in here without any pretentious vibes you would get from a similar bar in Sydney or Melbourne.
Also, Three Wolves is probably the best place to take your Tinder date if you want to throw off a classy, educated vibe.

three wolves cairns

Rattle and Hum

Situated right on the esplanade near Mcdonald’s is this franchise style bar that offers great food and reasonably priced drinks.  It’s a wonderful place to start an evening or have a nice feed though I wouldn’t call it a night club.   

If you like pizza then this is the place to come as they have an in-house wood fired pizza oven which produces delicious pizzas.   Add to this the great location and the reasonably priced drinks and you have got yourself the start of a great night out in Cairns.

rattle n hum cairns


If you couldn’t already tell by the name and the Guinness signs, this is Cairns most popular Irish pub.  Pj’s as it’s affectionately known is situated just back from the main street right between the Woolshed and Gilligans in the most ‘late night’ part of town.  Pj’s is your classic Irish pub with plenty of great hearty meals on offer and really well priced drinks.

The house spirits come in plastic cups, which is tacky, but serves a purpose.  You see, this place can get quite rowdy late at night and if it wasn’t for the plastic cups, there would be broken glass everywhere!  Pj’s is really popular with backpackers passing through Cairns as they get cheap drink vouchers when they go on the reef boats. They come back here for a $15 meal and drink and generally stay on to finish the cheap drinks.

Pj’s is the busy pub experience with live bands rocking out in the corner most nights of the week.  They also do heaps of activities like karaoke nights. If you are looking for somewhere to go on St Patricks Day in particular, then Pj’s is certainly the most lively and authentic Irish experience.

Pj’s also has a great little beer garden/smoking area out the front which allows for some great people watching on the busy streets.  Pj’s also seems to attract a slightly older crowd when compared to the nearby Woolshed and Gilligan’s.


If you don’t live in Cairns then chances are you have heard of Gilligan’s and if you do live in Cairns chances are you have spent the last 5 years trying to avoid it.

Gilligan’s is a nightclub in every sense of the word which means blaring music, huge crowds, inability to have a conversation, drunk people barely over the age of 18 and those old guys hanging out creeping on the young girls.  Yep, my respect of Gilligan’s is pretty low based on about a year of heading there almost every weekend.

It is your standard trashy backpacker bar that still runs pole dancing, jelly wrestling and wet T-shirt competitions.

I’m really showing my age and marital status by complaining about these things but the truth of the matter is, if you are under the age of 25 then get in there and go hard because it’s awesome fun when you are too young to feel a hangover.  If you are over that thresh-hold then you are best to stay away.

The expensive and tasteless drinks, really loud music, teenagers and trouble makers will make you want to leave as soon as you get in.  
The annual Sinners Ball is something they do here that pretty much sums up Gilligan’s in a night.  Girls in lingerie getting drunk with guys who have no shirts on. It’s the ultimate pose fest which.

Unless the sun is still up….Gilligan’s is actually an awesome bar for hanging out with mates and getting cheap drinks during the day.  They have a great pool and a really nice set up that very rarely gets busy before 7pm. They do a regular Sunday session with great music around the pool which is worth going to check out no matter how far gone you are from your 5am party days.

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