What to do in cairns?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 2, 2024

Located in tropical North Queensland, Cairns is a gateway to two of the world's most significant natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest. This vibrant city offers a mix of adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, nature lover, or culture enthusiast, there’s something for everyone in Cairns.

Great Barrier Reef Adventures

The Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the main reasons travelers flock to Cairns. Spanning over 2,300 kilometers, it's the largest coral reef system in the world and visible from space.

Snorkeling and Diving

Explore the underwater paradise through snorkeling and diving tours. Companies such as Quicksilver Cruises and Reef Magic Cruises offer day trips to the reef. Beginners can opt for introductory dives, while certified divers can explore deeper sections. Expect to see a kaleidoscope of marine life, including colorful corals, tropical fish, and perhaps even turtles and reef sharks.

Glass-Bottom Boat Tours

For those who prefer to stay dry, glass-bottom boat tours provide an excellent way to view the reef's vibrant ecosystem. These tours are family-friendly and offer informative commentary about the marine life and coral formations.

Helicopter and Seaplane Rides

For a truly unforgettable experience, take to the skies with a helicopter or seaplane tour. Companies like GBR Helicopters offer scenic flights that provide a bird’s-eye view of the reef's intricate patterns and stunning colors. Some tours even include a landing on a secluded sand cay for a private picnic.

Daintree Rainforest Exploration

The Daintree Rainforest, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. It's home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

Guided Walks

Join a guided walk with a local Indigenous guide to learn about the rainforest’s unique ecosystem and its cultural significance. Companies like Daintree Tours and Adventure North Australia offer various options, from half-day to multi-day excursions.

Cape Tribulation

Visit Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef. This remote area offers stunning beaches, rainforest hikes, and the chance to see rare wildlife like the cassowary. For thrill-seekers, zip-lining through the jungle canopy with Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours is a must-do.

Wildlife Spotting

The Daintree is teeming with wildlife. Take a river cruise on the Daintree River to spot saltwater crocodiles, or visit the Daintree Discovery Centre to learn more about the area's biodiversity. Keep an eye out for rare species like the tree-kangaroo and the Boyd’s forest dragon.

Adrenaline-Pumping Activities

For adventure enthusiasts, Cairns offers a plethora of heart-pounding activities.

White Water Rafting

Experience the thrill of white water rafting on the Tully River, known for its challenging rapids and stunning scenery. Companies like Raging Thunder and Foaming Fury offer full-day tours that cater to both beginners and experienced rafters.

Bungee Jumping and Skydiving

AJ Hackett Cairns offers the ultimate adrenaline rush with bungee jumping and the Minjin Jungle Swing. For an even bigger thrill, try tandem skydiving with Skydive Cairns, which offers breathtaking views of the reef and rainforest as you freefall from 15,000 feet.

Kite Surfing and Paddleboarding

The windy conditions in areas like Yorkeys Knob make it ideal for kite surfing. Beginners can take lessons with local schools, while experienced surfers can enjoy the challenging waves. Paddleboarding is another popular activity, offering a more relaxed way to enjoy the water.

Cultural Experiences

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Cairns, which boasts a vibrant Indigenous heritage and a lively arts scene.

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

Visit the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park to learn about the traditions and history of the local Djabugay people. The park offers interactive experiences such as boomerang throwing, traditional dance performances, and storytelling sessions.

Night Markets

The Cairns Night Markets are a must-visit for a taste of local culture. Open every evening, the markets feature a variety of stalls selling everything from handmade crafts to delicious street food. Don't miss trying some fresh seafood or exotic tropical fruits.

Art Galleries and Museums

Explore the local art scene at galleries like the Cairns Art Gallery and KickArts Contemporary Arts. The Cairns Museum offers fascinating exhibits on the region's history, from its Indigenous heritage to its colonial past.

Relaxation and Leisure

If relaxation is what you seek, Cairns has plenty of options to help you unwind.

Cairns Esplanade

The Cairns Esplanade is a great place to relax and take in the beautiful views of Trinity Bay. The Esplanade features a picturesque boardwalk, a lagoon for swimming, and numerous cafes and restaurants. It's a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

Kuranda Village

Take a scenic journey to the rainforest village of Kuranda via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Once there, you can explore markets, art galleries, and attractions like the Kuranda Koala Gardens and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.

Hot Air Ballooning

Experience the serenity of a hot air balloon ride over the Atherton Tablelands. Companies like Hot Air Balloon Cairns offer early morning flights that provide stunning views of the sunrise over the lush landscape. It's a tranquil way to start your day.

Gastronomic Delights

Cairns is a food lover’s paradise, with a wide range of dining options that highlight the region’s fresh produce and seafood.

Seafood Restaurants

Enjoy the catch of the day at renowned seafood restaurants like Prawn Star, a unique dining experience aboard a docked fishing boat, or Ochre Restaurant, which offers modern Australian cuisine with an emphasis on native ingredients.

Farmers Markets

Visit the Rusty’s Markets, held every weekend, to sample local produce and gourmet treats. From tropical fruits to artisan cheeses, the market is a feast for the senses.

Cooking Classes

For a hands-on experience, join a cooking class at the Ochre Cooking School, where you can learn to prepare dishes using native Australian ingredients under the guidance of expert chefs.

Day Trips from Cairns

Expand your Cairns adventure with some incredible day trips to nearby destinations.

Fitzroy Island

A short ferry ride from Cairns, Fitzroy Island is a tropical paradise perfect for hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beach. The island’s marine life and coral reefs make it an excellent spot for underwater exploration.

Green Island

Another popular island destination, Green Island offers a range of activities, including glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling, and diving. The island's resort facilities provide a luxurious escape for those looking to unwind.

Port Douglas

Just an hour’s drive from Cairns, Port Douglas is a charming coastal town known for its upscale resorts, fine dining, and access to the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t miss the chance to explore the nearby Mossman Gorge or take a sunset cruise on the Coral Sea.

With so many diverse experiences on offer, Cairns truly has something for everyone. Whether you’re drawn to the natural wonders, cultural attractions, or thrilling adventures, the city and its surroundings provide endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.