While Cairns is fundamentally a nice tropical resort community, the restaurants don't forget that they are right on the great barrier reef and there is ample fresh reef fish: Barramundi, coral trout, grouper, emperor and snapper. There is a string of lovely al-fresco spots that ring the esplanade along the marina which have somewhat different mixes of meat (which we never tried) and price/preparations. At the far north/west end of the boardwalk is the Chart House (not the Chain)- more open then some and nice fish/etc, busy bar scene at night and a nice lunch. We tried several focusing on those that front the Shangri-La, with our favorite being Tha Fish- http://www.thafish.com.au/. Moving off the beach we were treated to a dinner at Tamarind in the Reef Casino Hotel. Nice asian infused Aussie food.
We had avoided the Atlantic Salmon figuring that the fish would be as jet lagged as we were (though our dining partners enjoyed it). We learned from Aussie friends that the “atlantic salmon” actually comes from Tasmania and is viewed as tastier than US farmed salmon. In the town there are ample “cheap eats”- which smelled terrific. We bought some nice take-away sandwiches at Beethoven cafe on Grafton. We stayed at the Hilton- nice view over Trinity inlet and a terrific European/Australian breakfast buffet that was included in our room. Room was serviceable, a tad “tired” but good bedding, nice staff.