17+ Amazing Things to Do in Cairns, Australia (Reef & Beyond)

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I had it successful my caput that I wouldn’t similar Cairns, Australia. I’m not definite why, but I was wrong.

As 1 of Australia’s biggest tourer towns, Cairns is vibrant with plentifulness of restaurants and cafes to support maine happy.

Not to mention, acknowledgment to its Tropical North Queensland location, the upwind successful Cairns is amazing. You tin locomotion astir astatine nighttime and person plentifulness to spot and do, and the days are filled with an tremendous fig of choices from snorkeling tours to hiking successful the surrounding nationalist parks.

Aerial presumption    of the vessel  connected  the reefCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

I rapidly discovered that Cairns is much than conscionable a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s besides the gateway to the Atherton Tablelands and the adjacent Daintree Rainforest. For quality lovers, the metropolis is not excessively atrocious to usage arsenic a basal for hiking adventures.

We were blown distant by the fig of things to bash successful Cairns. So to assistance you program your travel to Cairns, here’s a database of the champion attractions successful Cairns, positive a fewer hidden gems.

Things to bash successful Cairns, Australia

So without further ado, present are the apical things to bash successful Cairns. Whether you privation to research the Great Barrier Reef, unbend and chill, oregon larn astir the section past and culture, these Cairns attractions are for you.

1. Swim astatine the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

people connected  the soil  astatine  Cairns Lagoon

Definitely, a favourite diagnostic of the Tropical North Queensland towns is their man-made pools by the beach.

Just successful lawsuit you didn’t know, the cruelty of the Aussie northbound is you get stinking blistery summers, but you can’t aquatics from the beaches, they’re afloat of stingers – jellyfish that tin earnestly harm you, adjacent termination you.

There are besides a fewer crocs astir too. Sadly, Australia is afloat of deadly creatures, but fortunately, you tin debar them easily.

The main formation successful Cairns is besides much of a mud flat, and not that bully anyway.

Not to fear, the man-made Cairns lagoon gives you precisely what you need.

Crystal wide waters, formation views, and beingness guards. The Cairns Esplanade lagoon is simply a chill spot to laze around, work your book, and conscionable different travelers.

2. Visit Rusty’s Farmer’s Market

fruit and rootlike  stalls astatine  Rusty's Farmers MarketRusty’s Farmers Market

OMG. I would beryllium hanging retired astatine Rusty’s Markets every week if I lived successful Cairns.

I deliberation it’s the cheapest farmers’ marketplace I’ve visited successful Australia truthful far. 50 cent avocados, hello! Get present connected a Sunday astatine astir 2pm conscionable earlier it shuts, there’s slash-down prices galore.

You mightiness privation to cheque with the Woolworths supermarket too, connected a time we were successful determination they had a trolley afloat of effect and veg they were selling for $3 each you could capable successful a bag. There was a spot of wrestling going connected to capable the bags with the champion goods.

I truly loved that thought to forestall wastage.

3. Explore The Great Barrier Reef

Aerial presumption    of the Spirit of Freedom cruise connected  the reef.redit: Tourism & Events Qld

Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, a existent wonderment of the satellite that is 2,300km long, which is wherefore it’s specified a fashionable spot to sojourn and astir apt the main crushed you’re visiting. It truthful should be!

I’m blessed to accidental The Great Barrier Reef is conscionable arsenic magnificent and magical arsenic you’ve heard. I loved our full-day circuit exploring the underwater satellite with the girls. It was specified a chill acquisition for them astatine specified a young age.

Visiting the Great Barrier Reef can beryllium expensive, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Budget for the disbursal truthful you don’t consciousness blameworthy oregon stressed erstwhile it comes clip to manus implicit the currency for this unthinkable World Heritage Site.

A diver exploring Ribbon Reef, portion    connected  a Spirit of Freedom liveaboard experienceCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

We debated astir the outgo but knew it was thing we whitethorn ne'er get to bash again, and hey, it’s the Great Barrier Reef.

We asked immoderate locals astatine the Caravan Park we were staying astatine for advice, checked successful with our facebook community, and jumped connected Tripadvisor to bash much research.

We’d ever wanted to spell to the Outer Reef, due to the fact that that’s wherever the champion snorkeling and diving are. You mightiness lone sojourn the Reef once, but you volition privation to spot it astatine its best!

Tours scope from tiny boats wherever you dive oregon snorkel disconnected the boat, to bigger tours wherever you moor astatine a pontoon and from determination enactment successful galore antithetic activities.

The Pontoon Experience

Aerial presumption    of Sunlover Reef Cruise moored astatine  Moore Reef pontoonReef pontoon | Credit: Tourism & Events QLD

Because we person 2 young kids we decided the pontoon acquisition would beryllium astir practical. We didn’t fancy being stuck connected a cramped vessel each time with a 2 and six-year-old, it would person been stressful, and gaining entree to the h2o would person been tricky.

We chose the pontoon acquisition astatine Marine World based retired astatine Moore Reef with Reef Magic Tours aft proceeding they were astir apt the champion for families. The household terms was $495 including lunch, but hey it’s the Great Barrier Reef and it’s Australia.

The pontoon was a large choice.

After our 90-minute high-speed catamaran thrust retired from Cairns our vas moored astatine Marine World and we jumped connected the pontoon.

It gave america each country to determination astir without being confined to a boat. Plus the stairs that pb down from the main platform to a submersed snorkel level let you to beryllium down and enactment connected your disguise and fins, making it casual to descent into the water.

Marine World astatine Moore Reef

woman and kid  giving bid    signs to camera nether  water

The all-weather Marine World level caters to each enactment levels and was a large basal for the day.

We had our ain array and chairs connected the sundeck, usage of freshwater showers and changing rooms and lockers, and a yummy morning/afternoon beverage positive a afloat buffet lunch.

girl Snorkeling connected  apical  of the waterKalyra snorkeling by herself

The champion portion was the assurance Kalyra got by snorkeling successful the sheltered coral lagoon. The snorkel country is supervised astatine each times, they had snorkeler remainder stations scattered astir if you needed a interruption successful the water, and we could intelligibly spot the bottommost astatine each times.

AND we met “Wally” the large Maori Wrasse!

girl looking astatine  elephantine  maori wrasse connected  the reef“Wally” the large Maori Wrasse – representation by ReefMagicCruises

Introductory Scuba Dive

If you’re going to sojourn the Great Barrier Reef you’ve gotta bash a dive right?!

Craig decided this was a once-in-a-lifetime infinitesimal and enactment his manus up for an introductory dive. This was going to beryllium lone his 2nd clip ever diving, his archetypal being 2 years agone disconnected Shelley Beach successful Sydney.

man successful  scuba cogwheel  acceptable   to diveCraig acceptable for his dive!

For $125 helium got a 30-minute dive with an teacher and conscionable 1 different person. Intro dives person nary much than 4 visitors per teacher making it reassuring for immoderate first-timers.

He loved it.

His dive reached a maximum of astir 8 metres successful the beauteous coral lagoon, a sheltered country with dense coral reef and a ton of marine life, including immoderate clip swimming with large WALLY!

“It’s different satellite down there, I tin decidedly spot the addiction to diving” helium beamed.

Of course, helium had to instrumentality the compulsory selfie:

man underwater successful  scuba cogwheel  holding motion   that says cairns Craig diving successful the Great Barrier Reef

Not lone did we snorkel and dive, but we were capable to spot much of the reef connected a solid bottommost vessel and a semi-sub.

We loved our household time retired connected the reef.

Giant purple clam -Giant purple clam

If you oregon your household are heading to Cairns, Marine World is simply a large option. Besides what we did Reef Magic Cruises besides person an adventure snorkel safari and certified diving packages.

The different large circuit operators retired of Cairns see Quicksilver and Reef Experience.

Snorkelling from Green Island

people snorkeling disconnected  formation  astatine  Green Island, Cairns

We besides spent the time connected Green Island located 45 minutes by vessel from Cairns.

It’s a soil land and is large for a relaxing time and for families, Kalyra loved seeing a fewer food and stingrays!

You tin snorkel consecutive disconnected the enactment and we felt the country adjacent the jetty was overmuch amended than snorkeling disconnected the patrolled beach. There’s besides a bully boardwalk done the wood to the different broadside of the island, and whilst the kiddies played successful the h2o I enjoyed a massage.

boardwalk done  coastal shrub connected  Green Island, Cairns, Australia
woman and girls posing to camera connected  formation  with snorkels on

There are 3 departure times and our family summons outgo $215 and we went with Great Adventures.

4. Visit Kuranda connected the SkyRail and Scenic Railway

family successful  gondola connected  Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

One of the astir fashionable things to bash successful Cairns isolated from visiting the Great Barrier Reef is riding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway up to the hinterland municipality of Kuranda and past taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway backmost down.

The Skyrail was opened successful August 1995, and astatine the clip was the longest gondola cableway successful the world.

The scenic travel takes you past Barron Falls, a beauteous waterfall that’s nestled successful the rainforest.

You besides get a bird’s oculus presumption of immoderate of the champion bedewed tropics landscape, period. From our diamond presumption gondola, we could look down done the level to spot the astonishing plants and flora below.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway - Cairns, Australia
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway - Cairns, Australia
Kuranda Scenic Railway - Cairns, Australia

5. Go White Water Rafting connected the Barron River

people rafting connected  the barron stream

Looking to get bedewed and adventurous? There are a fewer thrills connected the Barron River successful the Barron Gorge National Park done rapids called The Meat Cleaver, The Suckhole, and the Rooster.

And a rafting travel is ever made that overmuch much peculiar by a brainsick rafting guide, Marty.

Marty was afloat of life, speedy with a gag and a wry smile. His large booming laughter echoed disconnected the steep ravines and towering trees wrapped successful vines amid dense undergrowth.

White Water Rafts going down   Barron River

Check retired Raging Thunder Adventures. Say hullo to Marty for us!

6. Take A Free Fitness Class astatine the Esplanade

people walking on  Cairns EsplanadeThe Esplanade

I truly wanted to partake successful these free workout classes, but it was a small hard arsenic we were staying a spot retired of town. Every time determination is simply a escaped workout people specified arsenic yoga, Pilates and boxing.

There’s besides a beauteous boardwalk if you similar to agelong your legs that way.

7. Enjoy The Cairns Night Markets

I wasn’t blown distant by the Cairns nighttime markets, but it’s a bully mode to walk an hr oregon so. I’d suggest conscionable skipping the marketplace portion and heading consecutive to the massage section. $15 for 40 minutes – unheard of successful Australia.

8. Visit The Atherton Tablelands

Millaa Millaa Falls spilling implicit    rocks and jungle landscapeMillaa Millaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands

There are plentifulness of time travel opportunities (or longer) successful The Atherton Tablelands, a portion astir an hr southwest of Cairns successful Tropical North Queensland.

Many of our readers jumped retired to archer america The Atherton Tablelands was 1 of their favourite places successful Australia. So we visited.

hot aerial  balloons floating into the aerial
woman riding motorcycle  connected  ungraded  trailLovely time for a thrust successful Atherton Tablelands

Highlights included The Waterfall Circuit, Mountain Biking and the Hot Air Balloon Rides.

8. Take a Trip To Mossman Gorge and The Daintree

woman and 2  children walking connected  elevated boardwalk done  crainforest Mossman Gorge

We deliberation you whitethorn request to flight from Cairns and find immoderate relaxing quality connected your trip, and if I’m speechmaking your caput right, past a travel to The Daintree Rainforest would beryllium the eventual choice.

Don’t bash it arsenic a time travel – it’s exquisite and you request to get your unbend connected successful the greenish jungle. You tin enactment astatine Port Douglas oregon wrong The Daintree for a mates of days and explore.

girl sitting connected  boulder by the stream  successful  Mossman GorgeMossman Gorge
view overlooking rainfoest, stream  spilling into seaDaintree National Park

Mossman Gorge is conscionable northbound of Port Douglas and was my favourite portion of The Daintree Rainforest.

9. Get Breakfast astatine Lillipad Cafe

Lillypad Cafe, Cairns, Australia

An acquaintance recommended we halt present for breakfast, which specializes successful caller vegetarian cuisine. As a erstwhile cook successful the Cairns area, we followed her advice.

It seems hundreds of different radical indispensable person arsenic good arsenic determination were nary disposable tables.

We managed to jab 1 arsenic we turned to locomotion retired with sadness successful our hearts. The nutrient portions were HUGE and fresh. It tin consciousness a small cramped astatine a array of 4 though.

10. Have a Monster-sized Dinner astatine Cock and Bull Pub

Cock & Bull Pub successful  Cairns, Australia

Whoa! Monster serving sizes astatine the Cock & Bull. The work was a small ordinary, but the serving size is monolithic and the nutrient good, truthful decidedly worthy stopping successful present for immoderate pub grub.

Go for either the Roast oregon the vegetarian lasagna. So tasty and truthful HUGE!

11. Take a sojourn to Cairns Botanic Gardens

A impermanent  looking astatine  a butterfly successful  the Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory astatine  the Cairns Botanic GardensCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

A sojourn to the Botanic Gardens is simply a indispensable connected immoderate travel to Cairns. It has 1 of the champion collections of autochthonal Australian plants and fauna successful the country.

As good arsenic this, it’s besides an acquisition time retired for the kids. Every 2 weeks, they tally a Little Taccas arts and crafts store for nether 5s, and they besides person a Little Sprouts store that teaches children astir gardening.

If you’re not visiting with children, you whitethorn bask the walking tours, which volition archer you each astir the unsocial works beingness and animals you spot here.

12. Check Out Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

Looking for immoderate adrenaline-fuelled things to bash successful Cairns? Then you’ll emotion a travel to Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome.

Group enjoying the precocious   ropes people   done  the wildlife parkCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

This is the world’s archetypal situation ropes people nestled wrong a wildlife park. You tin cuddle a koalas, zip done the skies connected 1 of 3 ziplines, oregon bash a Dome-Climb to spot unthinkable views of the CBD.

One of the zip-lines adjacent flies implicit a 4 metre brackish h2o crocodile.

Don’t accidental we didn’t pass you, this spot is not for the faint-hearted!

13. Take a Helicopter Ride implicit the Barrier Reef

Man enjoying the views of the Great Barrier Reef, portion    connected  a scenic formation  to Vlasoff CayCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

We mentioned earlier that a travel to Cairns without visiting the Great Barrier Reef would beryllium a sin. It would beryllium like visiting Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower!

But we cognize that not everyone is simply a instrumentality of swimming, snorkeling oregon diving. If that’s you, past you mightiness similar a chopper flight!

You tin soar supra the reef and spot it successful each it’s magnificent glory. There is nary amended mode to acquisition the size of the reef than by seeing it successful the air. It’s just, wow!

14. Relax astatine Four Mile Beach

people posing to camera with presumption    of 4 mile formation  down  themFour Mile Beach

We mentioned earlier however the bittersweet information astir Cairns is the beauteous upwind but there’s obscurity to safely swim.

If you privation to sojourn immoderate fantastic Queensland beaches, caput retired a small mode to Four Mile Beach (a four-mile-long beach, duh!) conscionable northbound of Cairns.

It has soft, aureate soil and crystal-clear bluish h2o – it’s similar a tropical land paradise but connected the mainland.

The formation is good maintained and large for families since the waves are much gentle here.

You’ll find thenar trees lining the formation and there’s ever a gentle, chill breeze.

You tin walk your days relaxing, swimming, oregon sunbathing nether the palms. It’s the cleanable spot to unbend and bask being connected 1 of Australia’s apical beaches.

15. Try Spear Fishing astatine Cooya Beach

man and miss  Spear sportfishing  astatine  Cooya Beach Cairns (1)Father and girl moment

If you’re looking for immoderate unsocial things to bash successful Cairns, possibly you mightiness bask trying spearfishing astatine Cooya Beach.

The formation is overmuch much similar a mud-plane, and is simply a large spot to hunt for mud crabs arsenic good arsenic effort spear fishing.

We had a large clip trying to drawback immoderate food with our spears. You tin work each astir our acquisition here.

16. Take a Day Trip to Fitzroy Island

Mother and girl  walking on  Nudey beachCredit: Tourism & Events Queensland

You wouldn’t judge the tropical quality that you tin find conscionable a abbreviated region from Cairns. You tin scope respective tropical islands each wrong a time travel – it’s incredible!

One of the astir striking tropical islands adjacent Cairns is Fitzroy Island. It’s a tiny land that’s location to little than 50 people, but it’s worthy visiting for Nudey Beach.

And no, it’s not a nudist beach, but a gorgeous powdery achromatic soil formation with entree to the Great Barrier reef.

Sit successful the brushed soil oregon snorkel successful the corals from the shore. A travel to Fitzroy volition not disappoint.

17. Explore the Chillagoe Caves (Queensland Outback)

Family exploring a cave connected  a Ranger-guided Trezkinn Cave TourCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

We’re bittersweet that the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is closed, but you tin inactive spot immoderate fantabulous examples of Aboriginal stone creation astatine the Chillagoe Caves.

The Chillagoe – Mungana Caves National Park is nestled successful the Outback Queensland and is known for its ineffable caves.

You tin lone sojourn the caves connected a guided-ranger tour, but these tours instrumentality you to spot 3 of the astir unthinkable caves successful the site; Donna, Trezkinn and Royal Arch caves.

Learn astir aboriginal creation and civilization connected these fascinating tours.

Tips from our Facebook Community

Aerial presumption    of a Master Reef Guide starring  guests connected  an Adventure Drift Snorkel Tour astatine  Opolu ReefCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

We enactment the question to our Facebook community: “What are your tips for Cairns?” The effect was beauteous epic, and we’re delighted to stock immoderate different amusive things to bash and places to devour and enactment from our community:

Kristina Jo – You should spell to Hartley’s Crocodile Farm! It’s a amusive trip, particularly for the kids. And don’t hide to cheque retired the Northern Beaches, I would urge Trinity Beach and Clifton Beach due to the fact that they are beauteous quiescent but Palm Cove and Ellis Beach are precise engaged and touristic.

Clarissa BrennenDo the awesome 4sum Bungy jump, skydive, reef & Tully rafting & determination is simply a immense plaything astatine the bungy tract also. Cape Trib & Daintree River are wonders that you volition truly enjoy. Paronella Park besides has immoderate of the tropical horizons tours that instrumentality you to waterfall spots for a aquatics but astir of the companies do.

Carolina Gutierrez Go the nationalist swimming pool! It’s truthful nice! Also, you indispensable sojourn the antithetic islands origin they are beautiful, particularly The Whitsundays!

Michelle BroughTropical Zoo is bully on with a escaped excavation successful municipality that comes with escaped wifi. Port Douglas is bully for lunch.

Jaimee-Ray RayNight markets person a crepe! Go to the rainforest zoom connected apical of the casino.

Ruth HigginPort Douglas, a travel up the creeks connected the Lady Douglas, it was pouring with rainfall erstwhile we were determination successful Jan. but specified a inexpensive but precise informative travel with 2 beauteous ladies.

Layla TurnerGreat Barrier Reef trip. But prime your vessel carefully. Some don’t spell to the outer reef and lone spell to crowded spots. It was 7 years agone but I went with Passions of Paradise. They spell to the outer reef and Michelmas Cay, which is simply a stunning land and determination was nary 1 other determination but our radical it was genuinely amazing.

They are much costly due to the fact that they spell further retired but it’s worthy it, the unit is amazing, qualified, and made maine consciousness truly harmless snorkeling retired determination successful the mediate of nowhere. There’s besides a immense buffet luncheon included and food feeding connected the way. Check them out, it’s worthy the other cash!

Danielle Danimezza Melnyczenko Australian Butterfly Sanctuary successful Kuranda. It’s a peculiar spot for maine and truthful beautiful. The girls volition find it fascinating!

Where to Stay successful Cairns

Coconut Holiday ParkCoconut Holiday Park

We stayed successful our camper trailer astatine the Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut (Formerly Coconut Holiday Park) astir 6 km southbound of Cairns municipality centre.

The girls loved it, determination were plentifulness of things to support them entertained similar h2o parks, pools, mini-golf, and unfastened aerial movies.

It’s wherever we met The Block Shoppers who became our traveling companions connected and disconnected for the adjacent mates of months. We miss them!

If you request much luxury, The Hilton is centrally-located successful Cairns, or for low-budget travellers, you can’t spell incorrect with the YHA Cairns Central Hostel.

Final Thoughts connected Things to Do in Cairns

Aerial presumption    of a tender taking guests to a drop-off constituent   for the Adventure Drift Snorkel TourCredit: Tourism & Events Qld

So determination you person it, our apical things to bash successful Cairns, and arsenic you tin see, there’s truthful overmuch to spot and do!

Whether you’re looking for immoderate amusive for each the family, oregon you’re connected a couples play away, you’ll find plentifulness of attractions successful Cairns to support you busy.

If you’re ever stuck for choices, you can’t spell incorrect with a sojourn to the nationalist parks. Cairns is each astir nature, truthful beryllium definite to cheque immoderate of this retired portion you’re there.

We anticipation this usher helped you determine connected things to bash successful Cairns and offered immoderate inspiration for readying your itinerary.

More Tropical North Queensland Tips

Are you readying to sojourn different parts of Tropical North Queensland? Then these different guides whitethorn beryllium utile to you.

Do you person immoderate tips for things to bash successful Cairns? Share successful the comments conception below.

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