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Where to stay in Cairns: Calypso Backpackers

calypsoAs a budget traveler myself, I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with a wide range of hostels around the globe. From Panama to Amsterdam, I’ve spent the night bunked up with perfect strangers, made hostel friends over beers and shared enough toilets and bathrooms to know that it’s not as bad as I had once imagined. All of that being said, a hostel should be much more than just a cheap place to catch a few Zzzs at night. A hostel should be about the travel experience—the community of travelers who have come together under one roof in an effort to save their dollars and make friends.

While I have stayed in hostels that served little other purpose than giving me somewhere to sleep at night, I have the fondest memories, best stories and best associations with the hostels where I made friends, drank a little too much, lounged in the common areas and didn’t only want to be there while I was actually sleeping. I’ve collected a list of my favorite hostels while travelling, and recently I added Calypso Backpackers to the list.


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>>Book Calypso Backpackers now!



calypso2While Cairns certainly offers up a wide selection of great hostels with great atmospheres, Calypso is a great choice for those looking for not only a clean and comfortable place to stay, but who also want to have fun. Charismatic hostel owner Brett Claxton really knows the hostel business—he’s been in it for 15 years, when he started by cleaning hostels and later managed others around the world. As a result, Brett knows the backpacking business and has used his experience as a traveler himself to create the welcoming and fun atmosphere at Calypso.

calypsopoolCalypso has a relaxed, chilled-out vibe appropriate for the surrounding tropical environs. Hostel owner Brett has a deep love for the Caribbean and Reggae music, which infuses the hostel with a care-free island vibe. During the day, you’ll see fellow backpackers working on their tan by the pool, checking their email at the computers (which are free to use, though wi-fi is not free).

At night, Zanzibar (the hostel bar and restaurant) gets hoping with their $9 dinner buffet and the open/outdoor common area fills with backpackers enjoying a few pre-going out beers (perhaps before heading to Cairns’ infamous Woolshed for a night of table dancing).

Calypso’s centralized location, open-air hangout area, free shuttle bus downtown and Zanzibar make definitely make it one of the best Party Hostels in Cairns.


Not only will you find comfortable rooms (Calypso has both cheaper dorm style rooms as well as private rooms/doubles for those looking for a little more privacy at great rates), as well as a small pool perfect for cooling off and a bar/restaurant.

englishbreakfastZanzibar, the in hostel bar and restaurant, is actually quite good. Here, you can enjoy their $9 all-you-can eat dinner buffet or chow down on breakfast for just a few bucks (the most expensive breakfast item is an astonishingly large English breakfast with sausage, eggs, beans and toast for $8).

——-> the giant English breakfast pictured on the right

Other Amenities

  • Free courtesy bus pick-up 7 am-10 pm from airport and coach station
  • Free courtesy bus transfers to and from city center
  • No free wi-fi, but wi-fi is available with the use of a Global Gossip card (a service many hostels across Australia use)
  • Free safe for valuables
  • Kitchens for use
  • Laundry facilities
  • Fresh linens with every room/cleaned daily
  • Tours/Travel Desk
  • 24-hour reception
  • 24-hour hot showers
  • Swimming pool
  • No curfew
  • Helpful staff


>>Book Calypso Backpackers now!