Top 10 Things To Do In Cairns
BEST THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS
TROPICAL North Queensland is unique.
It’s the only place on the planet where two locations on UNESCO's World Heritage list – the Wet Tropics of Queensland and Great Barrier Reef – literally touch, with the Daintree Rainforest green kissing the Coral Sea blue at Cape Tribulation an easy amble north of Cairns.
But there is more to the pristine patch of paradise than rainforest and reef, with hidden gems around every corner.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS FOR NATURE LOVERS
The country around Cairns is home to extraordinary wildlife, and visitors need not venture far for a close encounter. Watch the cassowaries that live on the Etty Bay sand, spy crocs on a Daintree River cruise, or pop in to see the marsupials at one of the region's conservation parks. For those that like getting wet, strap on a snorkel and descend into the deep to meet the fish and turtles that call the Great Barrier Reef home.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS FOR FOODIES
The Atherton Tablelands – an hour "up the hill" from Cairns via the Gillies Range – is one of Australia's most diverse food bowls. Dairy cows make milk that's turned into cheese and ice cream, coffee and chocolate are regional specialties, limes and avocados grow in family-owned orchards, and tea plantations occupy the plateaus. Mungalli Dairy, Nerada Tea Plantation, Gallo Dairyland, Mt Uncle Distillery, Emerald Creek Ice-Creamery and Jaques Coffee Plantation are all worth a stop to help graze the day away.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS FOR FAMILIES
Tropical North Queensland is a family-friendly destination with pontoons and glass-bottom boats making it easy for young travellers to experience the Great Barrier Reef before following the journey a raindrop makes from freshwater to open ocean at Cairns Aquarium. And families can't finish a holiday in Far North Queensland without a freshwater frolic, and the short stroll from the car park beside Malanda Falls makes this an accessible pond for little legs.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS FOR COUPLES
Forget rainforest and reef, the real natural wonders of Far North Queensland are the waterfalls. Millaa Millaa Falls is the most instagrammable of the region's drops, those keen on venturing into the Tablelands to see Queensland's highest town can continue to Millstream Falls which is Australia's widest single-drop waterfall, and Josephine Falls is a favourite for swimming.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS FOR ADRENALINE JUNKIES
Stay close to Cairns by tackling rope courses, zipline over the legendary crocodile Goliath, and soar with the birds on the Power Jump at Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome or venture a little further afield and ride the giant swing at AJ Hackett's Skypark in Smithfield. Those looking to head into the hills should delve into the heart of Wooroonooran National Park and complete the challenging three-hour round-trip hike to Windin Falls, which is the Far North's most magnificent waterfall.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS FOR SHOPAHOLICS
WEEKEND markets are a way of life in the Far North, with communities from Palm Cove and Port Douglas to Tully and Tumoulin playing host to stalls selling all sorts of goodies. But, if you can't make it to the regions, Rusty's Market and the Night Markets are in central Cairns while Kuranda is just up the hill.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS FOR WALKERS
The best option for stretching the legs is strolling the Esplanade at sunrise, but it’s far from the only choice. The Yellow Arrow circuit is a short but steep climb through the rainforest, a magnificent view is the reward for conquering Earls Hill, and those seeking something less strenuous should stroll Centenary Lakes at the Cairns Botanic Gardens.
THINGS TO DO FOR ISLAND ENTHUSIASTS
KEEN to see the islands but already crossed Fitzroy and Green from your to-do list? Then it's time to book a Frankland Islands cruise and experience one of the Far North's hidden gems. The excursion includes transfers from Cairns, a cruise along the South Johnstone River to the Coral Sea, and time to explore the islands from above and below the surface.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS DURING WET SEASON
Summer is the steamy season in the Far North when the landscape comes to life with an abundance of green-season colour. Spectacular afternoon storms make waterfalls rumble, the warm evening breezes whisper through the cane fields that stretch towards the horizon, and taking a dip in a mountain stream is the best way to cool down.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS AT NIGHT
The Esplanade and waterside dining precincts are home to some of the city's best restaurants and cafes, but it's best to make a reservation as the city's eateries fill quickly at dinnertime. Wander the stalls at the Night Market then secure a scoop of ice cream and sit beside the Trinity Bay boardwalk to enjoy the buskers while watching the parade of promenading pedestrians.
CAIRNS WITH AAT KINGS
AAT Kings has been showing travellers Tropical North Queensland's famous places and hidden gems for decades offering day-trip tours, short breaks and multi-day holidays around the colourful country crowning Queensland.
Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef is perfect for those with limited vacation time and this four-day adventure dedicates a day each to savouring the Great Barrier Reef and Kuranda Rainforests from a comfortable base in the Far North’s capital.
East Coast Islands & Rainforest tacks a three-night stay in Cairns onto the end of a 12-day expedition that starts in Sydney and follows the coast to Tropical North Queensland. This adventure takes in the Tablelands, stopping to see the mountain waterfalls and crater lakes, before a full day out on the reef with a glass-bottom boat ride making it easy to see life below the waves.
Prefer to start your journey within Queensland? Tropical Islands and Rainforest would be your choice to explore all the way from the Gold Coast to Cairns in 9 days. From a Great Barrier Reef tour and the Wet Tropics rainforest to K’gari (Fraser) Island tour, get set for a parade of postcard-worthy attractions.