Whether you’re visiting Cairns for the first time or you’ve been here before and decided to come back for more, there are a few things you absolutely must do and see before you can truly say you’ve experienced Cairns.
To get the full Cairns experience, make sure you add these 6 activities to your bucket list—we know you won’t be disappointed!
1. Explore the reef
Anyone who’s ever been to Cairns knows the reef is the star of the show.
It’s not hard to work out why the Great Barrier Reef attracts millions of tourists to Australia’s shores every year. Classed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, it’s famed for its extensive coral reef system, crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life—and in Cairns, we’re lucky enough to have some of the most beautiful stretches of coral reef on our doorstep.
There are plenty of ways to explore the reef, but the best way to get a complete reef experience in one go would have to be spending the day at Marine World, an activity platform situated in a beautiful reef location that was hand-picked for its superior water clarity, biological diversity and overall quality of marine life.
Whether you want to get up-close and personal with the local marine life with a snorkelling tour or safari or you’d prefer to stay deck-side and enjoy the first-class view of the reef from a semi-submersible or glass bottom boat tour, you can do it all at Marine World.
Reef Magic operate daily tours to Marine World where you can enjoy everything the reef has to offer. Visit the Reef Magic website for more information and bookings.
2. Check out Kuranda
No visit to Cairns is complete until you’ve explored Kuranda, a scenic mountain village surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest.
Getting there is half the fun, with the option between sampling the dense rainforest, steep ravines and breathtaking waterfalls aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway, or gliding just above the rainforest canopy while you enjoy uninterrupted views of the surrounding rainforest from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
The cooler mountain climate also offers a much-needed reprieve from the heat, along with plenty of other attractions—whether you’re most keen to check out the stunning natural beauty of Barron Falls, the cool vibe of the local craft markets or the relaxed atmosphere of the many outdoor dining spots, Kuranda offers a unique mountain village experience that is hard to top.
An easy way to take in the sights of Kuranda is to book a tour with Down Under Tours who offer a range of tours incorporating the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Kuranda Scenic Railway, Tjapukai Cultural Park and Rainforestation. Visit the Down Under Tours website for more information and bookings.
3. Take a hot air balloon ride
Once you’ve become acquainted with the reef and Kuranda, it’s time to take in some of Cairns’ best sights from above—and what better way to do it than from a hot air balloon.
Few things can compare with the peaceful sensation of gently floating above Cairns’ picturesque landscapes at dawn, and it’s impossible not to appreciate the different perspective a birds-eye-view offers.
Hot Air Balloon Cairns offer balloon rides daily from Cairns, Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Yungaburra, Trinity Beach, Cairns Beaches and the Atherton Tablelands. Visit the Hot Air Balloon Cairns website for more information and bookings.
4. Canyoning at Crystal Cascades
As one of Cairns’ best kept secrets, the Crystal Cascades waterfalls and swimming holes are hidden away by lush tropical rainforest, earning it the title as one of the regions’ most beautiful natural attractions.
While you can always pay to Crystal Cascades to cool off with a refreshing swim, if you want to take it up a notch, we highly recommend you give canyoning a go—this one is not for the faint hearted, but if you think you can handle it, it needs to be on your bucket list!
ExperienceCo.com can arrange half day canyoning adventures at Crystal Cascades where you can abseil, zip line, slide and jump beside waterfalls and into pools, all while you soak in the beautiful natural setting. Visit the ExperienceCo.com website for more information and bookings.
5. Meet the locals
It’s also a rite of passage for every visitor to Cairns to meet the locals—the local wildlife that is!
Cairns is home to some of Australia’s most sought after animals, including the infamous saltwater crocodile. While you certainly wouldn’t want to encounter one of these fearsome creatures in the wild, everyone needs to witness the strength and majesty of these age-old creatures at some point or other.
The best way to experience them while in Cairns is to book a crocodile adventure with Down Under Tours where you can get the full croc experience, while also getting to meet an array of other local wildlife including water birds, turtles, wallabies and cassowaries. Visit the Down Under Tours website for more information and bookings.
6. Visit Fitzroy Island
Finally, you also need to add a visit to Fitzroy Island to your Cairns bucket list.
A 45-minute boat ride from Cairns, you’ll find this stunning island that features everything from beautiful coral beaches with crystal clear water, to pristine tropical rainforest.
As one of the most unspoiled islands on the Great Barrier Reef, it’s an ideal place to snorkel around the impressive range of corals and marine life. Alternatively, you could go for a paddle ski or paddle board, explore the islands walking and hiking trails, enjoy a swim at Welcome Bay or simply relax by the shore at Nudey Beach
ExperienceCo.com offer half day and full day reef cruise tours to Fitzroy Island where you can create your own Fitzroy Island experience. Visit the ExperienceCo.com website for more information and bookings.