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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Tanks Arts Centre

Edge Hill, Cairns Area
Tanks Arts Centre is the leading contemporary entertainment venue in the region bringing the best local, national and international performers and touring shows to the region. Situated in the Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct, just four kilometres north of the city’s central business district, the centre is an iconic and innovative multi-use, contemporary arts facility housed in three converted World War 2 naval oil storage tanks, and set amidst a lush rainforest backdrop.

Cairns Art Gallery

Cairns Area
Free Entry
The Cairns Art Gallery is one of Australia’s leading public galleries recognised for the excellence of its programs and collections relating to the unique heritage and living culture of North Queensland in the context of the world’s tropic zone and the Asia Pacific region.

Billy Tea Safaris

Multiple Locations
Join Billy Tea Safaris on one of the many personalised tours available including World Heritage listed Daintree/Cape Tribulation, Chillagoe Caves and Outback and our Tablelands tour. You will retrace the footsteps of some of Australia's earlier explorers and see wonderful diversity of scenery from ancient rainforest, Savannah plains, Giant Magnetic Termite Mounds, pristine beaches and reefs as well as the wetlands to view wallabies, emus and other wildlife.

Cairns Aquarium

Cairns, Cairns Area
From AU$42.00 - 199.00
Cairns Aquarium is Australia’s newest and most spectacular aquarium. It is the only aquarium in the world to exclusively showcase the stunning aquatic wildlife from tropical North Queensland’s two World Heritage listed areas – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.

Global Travel Services and Kuranda Hotel (Heritage Restaurant)

Multiple Locations
All aspects of the Global Travel Services (GTS) outfit focus on providing high quality, unique tour experiences in and around Cairns City. They pride themselves on world-class customer service, high level of coach safety and presentation, and punctuality.

Reef Teach

Cairns, Cairns Area
From AU$23 - 60
Reef Teach will greatly enhance any Great Barrier Reef visit. Their customers describe Reef Teach as informative, fun, hilarious, inspirational and most of all credit Reef Teach for enhancing their trip.

Raging Thunder Adventures

Multiple Locations
Raging Thunder Adventures is one of the largest adventure companies in Australia. They have a reputation for excellence and have established themselves as a World Leader in Adventure Tourism. For a truly memorable experience, try a balloon flight at dawn over the Atherton Tablelands.

Hot Air Balloon Cairns

Multiple Locations
More visitors and locals choose to fly with Hot Air Balloon Cairns by far, than anywhere in Australia, so don't miss out, come along and experience it for yourself. See the fleet of balloons float up up and away in the wide open blue skies where the temperate climate is perfectly suited to ballooning.

Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises

Multiple Locations
Green Island is a beautiful coral cay on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, dive and swim in the warm island waters, view the spectacular reef from a semi-submarine or glass bottom boat, explore the island or just relax on the white sandy beach.

Coral Expeditions - Great Barrier Reef with Rainforest Islands

Multiple Locations
Coral Expeditions knows the UNESCO World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef better than most, having pioneered overnight cruises on the outer reef more than 34 years ago. Sailing from their homeport of Cairns, Queensland on small ship expedition vessel, Coral Expeditions II.
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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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