Get the Finder app 🥳

Track your credit score

Free

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

We’re committed to our readers and editorial independence. We don’t compare all products in the market and may receive compensation when we refer you to our partners, but this does not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn more about Finder.

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

Lastminute.com.au Lastminute.com.au

Up to 30% off last-minute Australia stays

Available for stays until October 2020 in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle, Rockhampton and more.

Last verified

Deal ends

Kayak Kayak

Australia-wide flights from $51 each way

Available on select flights until February 2021, including over Christmas and New Year's Eve. Destinations include Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, Perth, Broome, Melbourne and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Ballina with Jetstar.

Last verified

Deal ends

Viator Viator
Exclusive

10% off things to do in Australia

Available on select dates for activities including jet boat rides, sightseeing cruises, tours, wildlife and animal interactions and wine tastings. Destinations include Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Melbourne, Cairns, Adelaide and more. Discount will be applied at check-out. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Groupon Groupon

Up to 75% off Australia activities

Available on select dates and activities like spas, skydiving, hot air balloon flights, tours, whale watching, skywalks, classes and more. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Trip.com Trip.com

Qantas Airways: Domestic flights from $113 each way

Available on select dates until December 2020 to Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Cairns and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Gold Coast. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Trip.com Trip.com

Up to 38% off Australia attractions and experiences

Available on select travel dates in Sydney, Gold Coast, Cairns, Darwin, Canberra, Melbourne and more. Attractions include SEA LIFE Aquarium Sydney, Sydney Featherdale Wildlife Park, Madame Tussauds and Eureka Skydeck. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Wotif Wotif

Up to 60% off Australia stays

Available on stays until May 2021 in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sunshine Coast and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

RedBalloon RedBalloon
Exclusive

Extra 10% off Australia activities with code

Valid on all dates on activities like skydiving, bridge climbing, canyoning, hot air ballooning, helicopter scenic flights, abseiling, cruises, tours, high tea and more. Minimum spend of $100 applies. Destinations include Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Hotels.com Hotels.com

Up to 60% off Australia-wide stays + an extra 8% off with code

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

Last verified

Deal ends

Oaks Hotels & Resorts Oaks Hotels & Resorts

Up to 30% off Australia stays

Available on select stays until 30 June 2021. Destinations include Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane, Gladstone, Townsville, Adelaide, Glenelg and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Lastminute.com.au Lastminute.com.au

Up to 56% off Australia getaways

Available on stays until December 2020. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Cairns, Brisbane, Townsville, Adelaide, Canberra and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Trip.com Trip.com

Up to 46% off Australia-wide hotels

Available on select dates until December 2020. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart. 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

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

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

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

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

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

Airbnb Airbnb

Cairns stays from $16/night

Available on select stay dates. Sample stay is for a private room in Parramatta Park. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Groupon Groupon

Up to 73% off getaways

Available for travel on select dates to Sydney, Sunshine Coast, Adelaide, Brisbane, Launceston, Newcastle, Noosa Heads, Cairns and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Experience Oz Experience Oz

Up to 50% off Australia activities

Available on select travel dates until 2021 on activities like skydiving, hot air ballooning, whale watching, sightseeing tour, wildlife interactions and more. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast, Adelaide and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

P&O Cruises P&O Cruises

Up to $1,000 OBC on cruises

Available on cruises in 2021 and 2022. Destinations include Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Singapore and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Cheap Flights Cheap Flights

Australia flights from $92 return

Available on select dates until March 2021, including over Christmas and New Year's Eve. Destinations include Gold Coast, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Launceston and more. Sample fare is Melbourne-Adelaide with Jetstar.

Last verified

Deal ends

RedBalloon RedBalloon
Exclusive

Up to 13% off domestic getaway packages + an extra 10% off with code

Available on select travel dates for stays in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Blue Mountains, Cairns, Canberra and more. Minimum spend of $100 required. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon
Exclusive

Australia experiences for 2 from $38 + Extra $10 off with code

Available on select dates for experiences like tours, zoo and wildlife interactions, hot air balloon flights, skydiving and more. Destinations include Sydney, Hunter Valley, Melbourne, Brisbane and more. Minimum spend of $80 required. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon
Exclusive

Up to 60% off Australia activities + an extra 10% off with code

Available on select dates and activities like hot air balloon flights, tandem skydiving, getaways, driving experiences and more. Destinations include Sydney, Gold Coast, Cairns and more. Minimum spend of $100 required. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Hertz Hertz

Get 1 day free on Australia car hires

Available on rentals until 31 December 2020 when you book a minimum of 5 consecutive days. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Hertz Hertz

Free upgrade on Australia rentals

Available on rentals until 31 December 2020 when you use the code. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Skydive Australia Skydive Australia

Up to $20 off skydiving with code

Get $20 off per person when you book for 4 or more. Destinations include Sydney, Byron Bay, Newcastle, Cairns, Brisbane and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Luxury Escapes Luxury Escapes

Up to 61% off Australia holiday packages

Available on select dates until December 2021, including over Christmas and New Year's Eve. Destinations include Adelaide, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney, Cairns, Canberra, Hunter Valley and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Avis Avis

4th day free + free upgrade on Australia car hires

Available on rentals until 18 December 2020 in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide and more. Minimum 4 days rental required. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Get Your Guide Get Your Guide

Australia activities from $10

Available on select dates for activities like sightseeing tours, attraction passes, river cruises, hop-on hop-off tours and more. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Launceston, Melbourne, Cairns, Hunter Valley, Perth and more.

Last verified

Expedia.com.au Expedia.com.au

Up to 60% off Australia hotels

Available on select 2020 dates and hotels. Destinations include Perth, Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane, Newcastle, Port Stephens and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

DriveNow DriveNow

Campervan hire from $5/day

Available on select routes, dates and locations in Australia, including Darwin, Alice Springs, Cairns and Brisbane, and New Zealand.

Last verified

Cudo Cudo

Up to 93% off things to do in Australia

Available on select dates and activities like classes, spas, getaways, dining experiences and more. Destinations include Sydney, Perth, Melbourne Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Voyagin Voyagin

Up to 40% off things to do in Australia

Available on select dates and activities such as Sydney attractions tickets, SEA LIFE Aquarium Sydney, Sydney Harbour Bridge climb and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

G Adventures G Adventures

Up to 15% off Australia and New Zealand tours

Available on select dates in 2020 and 2021. Destinations include Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Cairns, Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

RedBalloon RedBalloon
Exclusive

Dining experiences at home from $40 + an extra $10 off with code

Available on select 2020 dates across Australia on experiences including wine tasting, cooking classes, cheese making, high tea, cocktail making and more. Minimum spend of $80 applies. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Stayz Stayz

Australia beach holidays from $82/night

Available on select stay dates in 2020 and 2021. Destinations include Adelaide, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Melbourne and more. Sample price is for a stay at a private beach cottage in South Greenough, Western Australia. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Contiki Contiki

Up to 15% off Australia tours

Available on select 2020 and 2021 dates for trips to Byron Bay, Uluru, Perth, Whitsundays, Melbourne, Adelaide and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Popular Travel coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
23 Oct 2020 $1 wine tastings in the Hunter Valley WIN****
21 Oct 2020 Northern Territory activities from $36 + and extra $10 off off with code FDR****
21 Oct 2020 Extra $10 off site-wide with code FDR****
20 Oct 2020 Extra 10% off Australia activities with code RBF****
7 Oct 2020 $20 off nationwide rentals FIN****

More guides on Finder

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.
Go to site