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Top things to do in Cairns and the surrounding area

July 5, 2016

Located in the North East of Queensland, Cairns and the surrounding area has a tourism industry catered for all types of tourists.  With a tropical climate which drives an outdoor lifestyle, you will step outside your hotel or resort and experience the Queensland way of life.  Up north there are only two seasons, the wet season, November to April and the dry season, May-October.  Cairns has an International Airport and is a stop on the ever popular Greyhound bus route.


The town centre is quite small and is easily accessible by foot.  The Esplanade provides a series of bars and restaurants to choose from.  With Cairns being a coastal city, seafood plays a big part in the local cuisine.  For a majority of the year you can’t swim in the sea without a stinger suit.  A good way to remember this is not to swim during the months which contain an R, however, Cairns has built a saltwater lagoon to allow swimming all year round.  Why not check out the Cairns night market, you make pick up a memento for your trip.


On the water

Cairns is one of the few places on the East Coast in which you can experience the Great Barrier Reef.  To truly see the wonder of what the largest living organism in the world has to offer, head out to the Outer Great Barrier Reef.  Below are a few different companies which operate day trips.

        Quicksilver Cruises

        Reef Magic Cruises

        Reef Experience


If you prefer to spend more time on dry land, why not visit the islands.  They have beaches, calm waters and fringing reefs’ which will give you a taste of the GBR.  Three close by islands are Green Island, Fitzroy Island and Lizard Island.

        Green Island Big Cat cruises – great for day trips (click for video)

        Fitzroy Island

        Lizard Island - high end accommodation


South of Cairns

Photo Credit: http://www.montanariverguides.com/display.asp?page=gorge

Located about an hour south of Cairns is the Tully River.  Noted as the wettest place in Australia, this makes it the perfect spot for some white water rafting.

        Raging thunder

        RnR rafting

Both companies offer full day rafting and the best news is no experience is necessary.  Challenge yourself to see if you can tame the wild waters of the Tully River.



Sky Dive Mission Beach

Trust your life in the hands of others and take the plunge out of a plane travelling at 14,000 ft.  Freefall at over 200km/hr as you race towards earth.  The soft sand of Mission Beach will be your landing spot.


Paronella Park is 120 kilometres south of Cairns.  This is a Spanish influenced mini castle which was constructed by the Paronella Family.  Today the grounds are open to the public to walk amongst the 7000+ hand planted trees.


North of Cairns

Port Douglas

This resort town is located about an hour’s drive north of Cairns.  If it’s not the laid back attitude or the white sandy beaches which attract you, maybe it will be the Great Barrier Reef or the coastal rainforest.

Speaking of rainforests, why not check out where the rainforest meets the sea, the Daintree. Daintree Tours offer to take you to see ancient trees, unique wildlife and the chance to spot a croc or two from the safety of a river cruise.


Cape Tribulation

For Cape Tribulation, you will need to put your car on the Daintree River Ferry, a two minute ride and you will be on the other side.


West of Cairns

To the West of Cairns you will find the Atherton Tablelands.  There are a few things to do at the base of the mountains.  One of these includes:


Tjapukai – Australias Indigenous Cultural Centre.  It is the world’s longest living culture at over 40,000 years. 


A cute little town at the top of the tablelands is a town called Kuranda.  Here you can find a main street lined with cafés, art galleries and souvenir shops.   


You have a couple of options to get to the top.  The first is the Kuranda Scenic Railway.  The tracks will hug the hill as you are swept past green rainforests and powerful waterfalls.


Another option is to jump on the Kuranda Sky Rail.  Soar over the top of the rainforest canopy from the safety of the gondola.


Why not spend a day looking around Kuranda and check out the local fauna.  You will find the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, a home to friendly butterflies who love to sit on your shoulder for a picture.


Another popular attraction is the Kuranda Koala Gardens.  You can’t come to Australia without getting your photo taken with one of the most famous and unique animals, the Koala.

During the wet season, you get the chance to see the many waterfalls which are scattered throughout the National Park.  The easiest way to see these without hiring a car and finding them yourself is to jump on a day tour.  Here are a couple of options.

       Atherton Tours  Waterfalls Tour

       Barefoot Tours


All in all, you will need at least three full days to experience Far North Queensland.  And I would recommend putting this on your to do list when you visit Australia.


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Safe Travels!



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