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.
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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
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.
Reef Cruise and Full Day on Green Island - Adult
Full-Day Reef Cruise & Dive in Cairns
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.
Cruise and Snorkel Tour at the Great Barrier Reef
Kayak Turtle Tour from Palm Cove
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.
Our top pick: Experience Kuranda by Train and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway from RedBalloon
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.
Our top pick: Crocodile Adventure and Wildlife Tour - Half Day from RedBalloon
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.
Our top pick: White Water Rafting - Half Day from RedBalloon
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.
Our top pick: Green Island Reef Explorer Cruise with Lunch - Adult from RedBalloon
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
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