Get the Finder app 🥳

Connect your accounts & save

13 things to do in Cairns for the holiday of a lifetime

The best activities to get stuck into on your upcoming Cairns and Tropical North Queensland holiday.

Updated

Fact checked

Now that you’ve got your flights and accommodation sorted, it’s time to book in some activities to keep you busy.

We've picked our favourites to share with you, as well as where to book them so you’ll get the best experience at the best price.


Top things to do

1. Beaches

Cairns and Tropical North Queensland are home to some of the most picturesque and beautiful beaches across Australia, making for an idyllic getaway destination.

Popular beaches in the area include Palm Cove, Ellis Beach, Clifton Beach and Machans Beach. Surfers and beachgoers from across the globe visit these beaches for the great surf and incredible weather.

For those less experienced there is a huge range of fun day tours for a more calming look at the beaches.


2. Great Barrier Reef

Cairns and Tropical North Queensland are fortunate enough to be in close proximity to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef.

The spectacular blue water and incredible marine life making snorkelling and diving one of the area's main draws.

With an almost endless selection of Great Barrier Reef tours to choose from, including ones like the Kayak Turtle Tour, there is bound to be one perfect for your holiday.


3. Explore the nearby rainforests and parks

Teeming with wildlife and enchanting natural landscapes, Tropical North Queensland is home to a handful of rainforests and national parks.

The Atherton Tablelands, a world-heritage site, and the Daintree Rainforest are home to some of the most beautiful and picturesque natural landscapes and waterfalls in the world. Riding the iconic Kuranda Skyrail or train is an excellent way to see the area.

You can also explore the parks on your own as each park offers a variety of walks catered to various fitness levels and includes captivating viewpoints for those holiday snaps.


4. Learn about the local culture

Having lived on the lands in the Cairns and Tropical North Queensland area for about 40,000 years, no one knows the area better than the local indigenous population.

Take a day away from the beaches and reef and consider joining a local arts class, go on a coastal walk with locals or take a dip in the picturesque Mossman Gorge.


5. Visit Kuranda's village and rainforest

Arrive by train, cablecar or by road to this village tucked into the hills just 25km from Cairns' CBD. Surrounded by world heritage-listed rainforest, Kuranda's a relaxed town with a vibrant arts scene and offers natural attractions like the the nearby Barron Falls.

Other local attractions include the Kuranda Koala Gardens, a butterfly sanctuary, colourful markets and riverboat cruises through the rainforest.


6. Get up close and personal with local wildlife

It's not too far from the pristine beaches and clear waters that you'll find damp rainforests teaming with wildlife. This area's home to plenty, including tropical birds and crocodiles.

Harley's Crocodile Adventures are one of the post popular ways to spot wild crocs in the area and even offer feeding cruises where you can watch the beasts put their giant jaws to use.


7. Water sports

If you’re looking for some adventure on your trip to Cairns and Tropical North Queensland, try one of the many water sport activities.

With everything from white water rafting to sea kayaking, Cairns and Tropical North Queensland have an endless number of options.

Whether you’re after fun and adventure or prefer to kick back and relax, there is an activity out there for you.


8. Island hopping

Cairns and Tropical North Queensland boast a great location with some of Australia’s most beautiful and famous islands just a stone’s throw away.

With a huge selection of day tours to places like Magnetic Island near Townsville, Dunk Island near Mission Beachand Green Island near Cairns, you can experience the absolute very best that the Australian landscape has to offer.


5 things to do in Cairns for free

On a tight budget or looking for a few things to do between tours? Check out these ideas for three things to do while you're in Cairns.

  • Splash around in the 4,800-square-metre Cairns Lagoon at the Esplanade for worry-free swimming year round
  • Play at one of the Esplanade's playgrounds, there's three: Muddy's, Fun Ship and Healing Garden
  • Head to one of the northern beaches like Trinity Beach or Palm Beach
  • Window shop at the Cairns Night Markets
  • See some of the local plants without venturing to the rainforest and wander around the Cairns Botanic Gardens

Cairns and Tropical North Queensland deals

G Adventures G Adventures

Up to 50% off tours

Available on select dates in 2020 and 2021 when you book My Own Room on tours. Destinations include Australia, New Zealand, France, Thailand, Morocco, Costa Rica and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Lastminute.com.au Lastminute.com.au

Up to 50% off weekend stays

Available on select stay dates from 1-31 July 2020. Destinations include Gold Coast, Newcastle, Cairns, Noosa and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Europcar Europcar

Up to 20% off Australia and New Zealand rentals

Available on select dates until 15 December 2020. Rental must be for 2 days or more and booked 21 days in advance. T&Cs apply

Last verified

Deal ends

Wotif Wotif

Up to 32% off hotels across Australia

Available for stays from June - October 2020 to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Cairns and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Europcar Europcar

Up to 20% off base rate

Available on rentals until 15 December 2020 in Australia and New Zealand. Pick up on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday required to avail offer. T&Cs apply

Last verified

Deal ends

Trafalgar Tours Trafalgar Tours

Up to 15% off last minute trips

Valid for travel on select dates in 2020 and 2021. Destinations include Europe, UK, the Middle East, Argentina, India, Asia, New Zealand, Australia and Africa and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Europcar Europcar

$1/day one-way car hire in Australia

Valid on select dates for select car hire in Australia. Destinations updated regularly.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon

2-for-1 experiences and activities

Buy one get one free on a range of experiences across Australia. Offers change regularly, but often include sightseeing cruises, abseiling, dining, hot air ballooning, quad biking, jet boating, scenic flights, helicopter rides, flying lessons, classic car hire, driving and rally car experiences and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Otel.com Otel.com

Extra 9% off hotel bookings

Valid on select hotel stays worldwide like Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Thailand, USA, Europe and more on all dates, including over holidays like Easter, Christmas and New Year's Eve. Some restrictions apply.

Last verified

Lastminute.com.au Lastminute.com.au

Up to 50% off Australia and New Zealand stays

Valid for stays on select dates. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Cairns, Auckland and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Topdeck Topdeck

Up to 30% off last-minute tours

Valid for travel on select dates from September 2020 onward. Destinations include Europe, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and North America. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Hotels.com Hotels.com

Extra 8% off on hotel bookings

Save on hotel stays before 31 December 2020 in Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Fiji, Thailand, Singapore, USA and more. Available at select hotels.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Skyscanner Skyscanner

Domestic flights from $99 each way with Virgin Australia

Available on select flights from August 2020 - May 2021 to Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth, Darwin, Melbourne and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Gold Coast.

Last verified

Deal ends

Skyscanner Skyscanner

Australia-wide flights from $124 return

Available on select flights from July - December 2020 to Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth, Gold Coast, Melbourne and more. Sample fare is Brisbane-Newcastle with Jetstar.

Last verified

Deal ends

Skydive Australia Skydive Australia

Up to $30 off Australia tandem skydive

Available on all dates when you use the code. Destinations include Sydney, Hunter Valley, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Cheap Flights Cheap Flights

Australia-wide flights from $98 return

Available on select dates from June - December 2020 to Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns and more. Sample fare is Melbourne-Launceston with Jetstar.

Last verified

Deal ends

Adrenaline Adrenaline

Up to 40% off last-minute things to do across Australia

Available on select dates until December 2020 for activities including kayaking, rally driving, sports rafting, hot air balloon flight and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

G Adventures G Adventures

Up to 15% off Australia and New Zealand tours

Available on select dates until 31 July 2021. Destinations include Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Auckland, Queenstown and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Groupon Groupon

Up to 89% Australia activities

Available as birthday gifts on select 2020 dates. Activities include getaways, attraction admission, spas, classes and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Adrenaline Adrenaline

Up to 25% off things to do in Cairns

Available for activities like driving experiences, helmet diving, helicopter flights, bungy jumping, water rafting, suba diving, skydiving and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Luxury Escapes Luxury Escapes

Up to 70% off holidays

Book holidays to Thailand, Bali, Fiji, Maldives, Vietnam and across Australia at up to 70% off. Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Stayz Stayz

Australia stays from $54/night

Available on select 2020 dates across Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Brisbane, Perth and more. Sample fare is for a stay at McSweeney Ranch Casino. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Hotels.com Hotels.com

Up to 60% off Australia-wide stays

Available on select stay dates in 2020 and 2021. Destinations include Sydney, Canberra, Bondi Beach, Newcastle, Harrington and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Kayak Kayak

Up to 35% off flights worldwide

Subscribe to Kayak newsletter and receive personalised private deals of up to 35% off. Destinations include Europe, Asia, America, Australia and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

DriveNow DriveNow

Campervan hire from $5/day

Available on select routes, dates and locations in Australia and New Zealand.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon

Up to $30 off things to do in Cairns

Activities include diving, jet boat rides, skydiving, cruises, parasailing, bike tours and much more.

Last verified

Marriott Marriott

Up to 20% off resort stays

Available on select stay dates in USA, Caribbean, Canada, Australia and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

isango! isango!

Up to 9% off Australia: Philip Island day tour

Available until December 2020. Includes hotel pick up and drop off, transfers, penguin parade and visit to Moonlit Sanctuary, guide and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

isango! isango!

Up to 10% off Australia: Great Ocean Road day tour

Available until December 2020. Package includes hotel pick up and drop off, transfers, guide, koala viewing and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Viator Viator

Australia Zoo by Croc Express Coach from $97.73

Available until 31 March 2021. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Hamilton Island Hamilton Island

Up to 10% off 4-night Great Barrier Reef Australia stay

Available for travel from 1 August 2020 - 30 June 2021. Package includes accommodation, breakfast, $200 resort credit, complimentary buggy use for 24 hours and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Hamilton Island Hamilton Island

3-nights Great Barrier Reef Australia stay from $645

Available for travel from 1 August 2020 - 30 June 2021. Travel between 1 August - 17 September 2020 and receive double resort credit.

Last verified

Deal ends

RedBalloon RedBalloon

Wildlife experiences in Sydney from $30

Available for travel on select dates. Includes general admission to Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park Admission. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Skyscanner Car Hire Skyscanner Car Hire

Cairns car hire from $44

Valid for travel on select dates in 2020 with Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar and more. Destinations close from Cairns include Palm Cove, Mareeba and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

TourRadar TourRadar

Up to 50% off early bookings

Available on tours from 31 August 2020 onward. Destinations include Kenya, Singapore, Athens, Australia, New Zealand and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

TourRadar TourRadar

Up to 30% off Australia and New Zealand tours

Available on select dates until December 2022. Destinations include Adelaide, Darwin, Byron Bay, Fiji, Auckland and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Skydive Australia Skydive Australia

Australia skydive from $199 + free $20 merchandise voucher

Available on jumps from 7,500 ft. to 15,000 ft. Destinations include Sydney, Hunter Valley, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon

Up to $30 off sightseeing cruise experiences

Available on select travel dates in Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns, Gold Coast, Brisbane and more.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon

Up to $30 off Australia getaways

Available on select travel dates to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Blue Mountains, Cairns, Canberra and more.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon

Driving experiences from $30

Available on select dates on activities like rally driving, go karting, quad biking, and more. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Melbourne and more.

Last verified

Popular Travel coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
27 May 2020 Extra $10 off site-wide with code FDR****
22 May 2020 Extra 9% off hotel bookings AUT****
27 Apr 2020 Up to 12% off worldwide flights PAY****
14 Apr 2020 Extra 8% off on hotel bookings CLP****
2 Jul 2020 Up to $30 off Australia tandem skydive RES****

Related Posts

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site