Cairns and Northern Beaches

Cairns

Famed for its first-class access to the nation’s biggest drawcards, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, these world-heritage sites stamp Cairns on the map as Australia’s nature capital with some serious adventure game.

No matter who you are or how long you’re there, Cairns is a bucket list destination that speaks for itself when it comes to flaunting its natural assets. You could be rubbing fins with Nemo while you snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, surfing your way through the jungle of the Daintree Rainforest or hammock-side on a tropical island all within a day. 

Things to do in Cairns

Whether you’re gliding above the rainforest, meeting the local wildlife or learning about the indigenous history of the region, Cairns is brimming with nature and adventure experiences for every sized explorer. See these top 10 Cairns experience to add to your itinerary.

  • Go White Water Rafting on the Tully River
  • Bungee jump on a bike with AJ Hackett
  • Take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway before descending into the world-heritage listed rainforest
  • Learn about indigenous history with Walkabout Cultural Adventures, Mungalla Aboriginal Tours or Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk
  • Check out the Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome for some family fun
  • Go Croc spotting with Daintree River Cruises
  • Swim, socialise and let the kids run free at Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
  • Take a trip to Babinda Boulders and hire a kayak
  • Explore Josephine Falls and swim in the refreshing waters of this natural swimming hole
  • Take the family for a joy ride at the Smithfield MTB Park

Plan your holiday

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RunNation Film Festival 2019 - Cairns Central

Cairns, Cairns Area
26 August 2019
2019 marks the fifth year of the RunNation Film Festival. Founded in Sydney and now an international event, the festival has been attended by athletes and runners from all around Australia and many parts of the world.

Targa Great Barrier Reef

Cairns, Cairns Area
Free Entry
30 August – 1 September 2019
Targa Great Barrier Reef 2018 was the first ever Targa event held in Queensland and the event name joins two iconic brands under the one banner. This event is based in one of Australia’s iconic tourism locations, Cairns and will reach out to all of the surrounding regions.

Women's Adventure Film Tour 19/20 - Cairns Earlville

Earlville, Cairns Area
From AU$15 - 25
2 September 2019
The Women's Adventure Film Tour presented by Paddy Pallin is back for its third season! This is Australia’s original women’s adventure film tour, created by Adventure Entertainment in partnership with She Went Wild.

Cairns Amateurs

Woree, Cairns Area
From AU$30 - 300
12 – 14 September 2019
The Cairns Amateurs Racing Carnival is three days of fun, fashion, glamour, food and entertainment built around two days of horse racing in Cairns. What began as a small meeting in 1959, designed to bring city and country together, has expanded over the years to become one of Australia's premier spring horse racing carnivals.

Cairns Tennis International Pro Tour 2019

Cairns North, Cairns Area
12 – 22 September 2019
This pinnacle sporting event attracts National and International players, offering a prize pool of USD50000 and world ranking points. Hosted at the Cairns International Tennis Centre, in the beautiful city of Cairns with surrounds of Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

Cardiac Challenge

Cairns, Cairns Area
From AU$150 - 370
21 – 23 September 2019
The Mount Franklin Cardiac Challenge is a three day camping and recreational cycle ride in the September school holidays. The route includes some of the most stunning scenery in the Wet Tropics, Dry Tropics and World Heritage National Parks of Far North Queensland starting in Cairns and progressing inland through the Kuranda range, Speewah, Mareeba, Mt Molloy, Mt Carbine, the Desailey Range, Lakeland and finishing in Cooktown.

Swan Lake – Imperial Russian Ballet Company - Cairns

Cairns Area
3 October 2019
The Imperial Russian Ballet Company return to Australia with Swan Lake...the most loved classical ballet of them all. This masterpiece ballet is presented in two acts and follows the original storyline.

Crocodile Trophy 2019

Cairns, Cairns Area
12 – 19 October 2019
The Crocodile Trophy is one of the toughest and definitely the most legendary MTB stage race in the World and has its home in the heart of one of the most beautiful holiday destinations on earth: Tropical North Queensland in Australia.

Great Adventures Green Island Ocean Swim

Cairns, Cairns Area
From AU$16.50 - 63
20 October 2019
The annual Great Adventures Green Island Ocean Swim is set to make a splash with competitors taking on the 1.5 kilometre and 3 kilometre swims, as well as a shorter 500 metre distance swim. This unique Great Barrier Reef competition takes place on the leeward side of the island with each leg of the event offering a variety of conditions from shallows to wind chop and tidal flow.

The Grass is Greener Music Festival

Parramatta Park, Cairns Area
From AU$99 - 119
26 October 2019
TGIG is curated for music fanatics of the hottest Australian acts with a blend of Handpicked International Music Talent. It's about celebrating good times with friends, listening to the hottest music around under sunny blue skies.
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Great Barrier Reef

Stretching over 2300kms, the Great Barrier Reef consists of 900 islands and 2900 individual reefs so as you can imagine, the ways you tick off this bucket list item is extensive, and the scenery is nothing short of spectacular.

Whether you choose to sail, scuba, snorkel, cruise, fly, skydive or island hop, on, in or over the Great Barrier Reef, you can guarantee there is an experience for whatever floats your boat. 

Here are some of the best ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns:

  • Scuba or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and tick off the Great Eight marine animals to see
  • Take a scenic flight over the reef and witness the beauty from above
  • For the adrenaline junkie, skydive from the highest tandem jump in Australia
  • Go by boat or heli to Vlasoff Cay for the most picturesque picnic spot on the reef
  • Sail to Michaelmas and Upolu Cays
  • Swim and sleep on the reef with Sunlover by Starlight
  • See the reef without getting your hair wet and helmet dive with Seawalker Green Island
  • Take a day trip to a pontoon for reef-viewing and exploration

Cairns tours

Cairns is brimming with nature experiences, and tours are the best way to see as much as you can.

Deciding how you should experience the greatest reef on earth? Check out which Great Barrier Reef Tour is for you.

To learn about the fascinating indigenous history of Tropical North Queensland look at some of these indigenous tours.

The adventure capital will certainly deliver some of the best adrenaline experiences to really get your tummy turning with our guide for adventure packed things to do in Cairns

From the Blog

Cairns accommodation

Whether you are after budget accommodation or you can splash some cash on something a little la-de-da, Cairns has you covered. 

For an all-inclusive 5-star experience where kids under 12 can stay and eat breakfast for free, rest your head at the Pullman Reef Resort and Casino.  If your tribe is looking for a more resort-like vibe, you can’t go past the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort with its lagoon style pool and epic pool bar menu.  Enjoy views of the Coral Sea and stay at Waters Edge Apartments Cairns on the Esplanade. Other accommodation options include the Mantra Trilogy and the Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort.

For a true Great Barrier Reef experience, jump on a boat, switch your watch to island time and holiday in impeccable style on Fitzroy Island or Green Island.

If you’re coming to Cairns for a good time not a long time, there are a bunch of backpacker options to suit any budget. Check out Nomads Cairns or Cairns Central YHA for a central place to hit the sack and save your dollars for the more important experiences in the region.

How to get there

International airport

Cairns Airport is the fifth busiest airport in Australia and an international gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. The Cairns Esplanade is just over 10 minutes from Cairns Airport and there are plenty of transportation options to get you from the airport to your hotel.

You can take the Airport Connect for $4 one way or $6 return which links Cairns Airport with the public transport network at the Sheridan Street bus stops. From here Translink offer services to Cairns City or Northern Beaches for a minimum of $2.20 for an adult single fare.

There are also a range of airport shuttle services, hire car options or ride share and taxi options if you prefer a more direct route into Cairns from the airport.

From Brisbane

If you are coming to Cairns from Brisbane, the drive along the Pacific Coast Way from Brisbane to Cairns will take you approximately 19 hours. This drive links coastal and hinterlands towns as well as major cities all along the east coast and is a fantastic way to experience Queensland at your leisure. Hire cars are available from Brisbane Airport and you can plan the ultimate road trip with this Brisbane to Cairns Itinerary.

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