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What to do in Cairns?

Australia is a country that is known for tourism. Cairns in Australia is in tropical north Queensland and is a popular tourist destination among travellers. Home to a number of world heritage listed sites, Cairns in Australia gives you a one-of-a-kind experience, but what to do in Cairns?

Since Australia is an island nation, it is unavoidable because it possesses beaches and abundant marine life. It is also renowned for its traditional food, cultural diversity of the locals and the high quality of living are factors that make Australia a welcoming nation.

Stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, and other fun activities are a few answers to what to do in Cairns. June to August is when the city boasts mild winters and is the best time to visit Cairns in Australia.

Reefs are something that is uncommon in a majority of countries in the world and Cairns in Australia has the largest one to offer to its visitors. The reefs serve as the best answer to what to do in Cairns.

Apart from The Great Barrier Reef, beaches such as Palm Cove, Four miles, Fitzroy Island, and the Green Island are what boost Australian tourism. The Cairns night markets, Daintree forest (also a UNESCO world heritage site), Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, the Kuranda Scenic Railway, the Cairns botanic gardens, and the Crystal cascades are also great attractions in and around Cairns.

What to do in Cairns
Photo by Jorge Láscar on Flickr

What to do in Cairns?

1. Explore the Beauty of the Great Barrier Reef

It is a waste of time if you visit Cairns Australia and don’t go to the Great Barrier Reef. The most intriguing attraction of Cairns Australia covers an area of 350,000 square kilometres in the coral sea. It is a must-have on your Cairns itinerary.

A world heritage listed site, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest of its kind in the world and is well-known for its abundant marine life.

Once you are there, you will get lots of answers on what to do in Cairns. You will have to spend something between 115 AUD and 660 AUD, depending on the number of days you want the tour to last and the experiences you want to attain.

(a) Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a great form of experiencing marine life in the Great Barrier Reef. You wear the snorkel or the breathing tube and swim on or just beneath the water surface. No prior snorkeling or swimming experience is required, and there is always a knowledgeable staff present to assist you.

Snorkeling
Photo by Laya Clode on Unsplash

(b) Scuba diving

Scuba diving differs from Snorkeling. Scuba diving involves diving deep into the water. You swim alongside sharks, turtles, whales, and a variety of fish as they swim beneath you. The months of August to December are regarded as the finest for diving on the Great Barrier Reef since they offer maximum visibility and the least amount of wind and rain.

Scuba diving
Photo by UI International Programs on Flickr

(c) The Great Barrier Reef Pontoon

If you visit the Great Barrier Reef, staying the night on a pontoon is a unique and unforgettable experience. You will be served delicious meals and beverages. You may see a sunset over the Great Barrier Reef and lovely birds. Sleeping under the stars adds to the magic of the experience.

An underwater observatory with coral and fish viewing is open 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. A semi-submersible coral reef viewing trip and a glass-bottom boat excursion are also available. Your answer to what to do in Cairns just improved, isn’t it?

Pontoon
Photo by Studio Sarah Lou on Flickr

(d) Helicopter Scenic Flights

The helicopter scenic flight is the perfect answer to what to do in Cairns if you are looking for non-water activities. You will get a bird’s eye perspective of the Great Barrier Reef. The duration ranges from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending upon how much you pay. Who doesn’t want to see things from a thousand feet up?

Great Barrier Reef helicopter
Photo by releasetheweb on Pixabay

2. Go to The Fitzroy Island

The Great Barrier Reef is equipped with many islands and Fitzroy Island is one of them. At Fitzroy, you can snorkel, do paddle boarding, explore the island by a kayak, and enjoy seafood at Foxy’s bar with live music.

You must not miss the turtle rehabilitation centre, where turtles are harmed because plastic has been rescued and rehabbed. Guides will explain the entire story behind the turtle rehabilitation centre and will answer any questions that you may have.

You can hike in the Fitzroy Island national park, where you can go to the top and get a spectacular view of the reef. Lastly, you can enjoy a sunset cocktail in the pool and take a scenic walk past the Nudey beach.

3. Make Your Way to Green Island

Green island is a tiny cay island, 27 kilometres from Cairns Australia, inwards of the Great Barrier Reef, with a relaxing culture. You can take a cruise here and stay at the Green Island resort overnight.

The white sand, turtles, lush rainforests, and its unique flora and fauna make up its beauty. You can snorkel here and get a glimpse of what life is like under the water, take a tour on a glass-bottom boat, and feed birds and fish.

4. Explore Cape Tribulation

Your answers to what to do in Cairns don’t end at the Great Barrier Reef. After the reef, you can head over to Cape tribulation. It is a beach cum forest. It is one of the few places in Australia that has not been touched by civilization. Here you will see Australia in the same state it was when dinosaurs existed.

Cape tribulation
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

5. Walk Through the Daintree Rainforest

Daintree rainforests are the largest in the world and one of the oldest too. Just like the Great Barrier reef, it is another one of Australia’s World Heritage-listed sites. If there is one place in Australia where nature is at its best, it unquestionably has to be the Daintree rainforest.

Spread across an area of 1200 square kilometres, you can witness stunning scenery, flora and fauna, and the majority of Australias bat and butterfly species here. You need to plan a day trip for here to make the most of it.

(a) Trekking

Trekking can be an answer to what to do in Cairns. You can trek through the Daintree forest for hours and discover one-of-a-kind plants and animals. 

The Aboriginal Kuku Yalanji people of the Daintree region will walk you through the Daintree forest and give you a glimpse of their routine life. You will watch how they use spears to get their fish. You can find medicinal plants, Kuku Yalanji artefacts, and hear uncommon stories of the ancestral homeland.

(b) Zipline

You can even glide through the zipline, which requires no prior experience. You will be able to see the trees and the stream from a bird’s eye perspective.

zipline
Photo by Stungy2010 on Flickr

(c) Fishing

The Daintree rainforest also has fishing charters to offer to its visitors. There are a wide variety of fishes that you can catch.

(d) Experience Daintree River Cruise

You can cruise along the Daintree River and witness tree snakes, birds, saltwater crocodiles, and a variety of mangrove species. If you embark on a late afternoon tour, you will get to witness the sun setting along the river and possibly a flock of egrets flying home.

Daintree River cruise
Photo by Denisbin on Flickr

(e) Visit the Daintree Village

The Daintree village has unique stores selling unique items from souvenirs, arts, crafts, and more. Cattle, especially cows, will be seen. You can visit the Jabal Aboriginal art gallery and participate in paint workshops.

The village was a base for red cedar logging back in the day. Logging now ceases to exist at the Daintree. However, there is a renowned museum that exhibits the tools used by loggers on display. The museum also houses a woodwork store where you will find hand-made kitchen and ornamental items manufactured from locally grown timbers.

Daintree Village
Photo by Holiday Photos on Flickr

(f) Daintree Ice-cream Company and The Floravilla Bio-Dynamic Ice-cream Factory

To get different answers to what to do in Cairns from the above experiences, go grab some ice cream. These two ice-cream hubs are the points of interest in the Daintree Rainforest. You will get to taste exotic-fruit-flavoured ice-creams prepared out of home-grown fruits.

The wattleseed flavour is loved by many tourists because the price they pay is fair.  After having your ice cream, you can talk a walk through the fruit trees.

 

Daintree ice-cream company
Photo by Cynren on Flickr

6. Embrace the Beauty of Four Mile Beach

The Four Mile Beach is a modest beach and it is four miles long, as the name implies. It is the longest beach in Cairns Australia and one of the few pristine white sand beaches. There are no stores, hotels, or other man-made structures in or around this beach because it is the remotest area of the city.

Because stingers are common here, there are specific places for swimming in the sea. If you get stung, there is a supply of vinegar at the beach’s entrance. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for hiring at Four Mile Beach.

Four mile beach
Photo by dronepicr on Flickr

7. Visit the Palm Cove

Palm Cove is a small charming seaside village in the suburb of Cairns Australia which cannot be left behind as an answer to what to do in Cairns. Unlike the busy Cairns, Palm Cove is quiet and laidback and has a population of about just 4,000 people. You can dine in at sea-facing restaurants that provide a variety of cuisines.

As the name suggests, it is known for its row of paperback palms. You can head to the beach here. There is a warning board at the entrance of the beach warning you of marine stingers and crocodiles.

You can make your experience memorable by indulging in activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. You can also play golf because there is a 9-hole golf course just a kilometre away from the beach.

Palm Cove
Photo by Skyseeker on Flickr

8. Stroll in the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

The Tjapukai aboriginal cultural park located in the north of the Cairns region is an expensive cultural centre for tourists.

You will be able to learn immensely about the history of Australia’s rainforests at this award-winning cultural park. In selected areas, you will be taught how to use plants as food and medicine.

You can learn other things, such as the art of playing the didgeridoo and the usage of boomerangs and spears. The main attraction is a show on a modern stage about the creation myth of the Djabugay tribe.

Last but not least, the Tjapukai aboriginal cultural park has a themed gift shop for souvenirs. This park is a unique answer to what to do in Cairns.

9. Ride on The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway 

skyrail
Photo by Warren R.M. Stuart on Flickr

The Skyrail rainforest cableway offers a rare riding experience. It takes you on a six-seater gondola ride of 7.5 kilometres. It moves at a leisurely pace so that visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery of Australia’s World Heritage-listed Tropical Rainforests in the Barron Gorge national park and the sea as well. The floor of the gondola is glassed, allowing you to see through it as well.

You will be stopped at two stations, the Red peak station and the Barron falls station. At the Red peak station, you can take the boardwalk tours, where the rangers will share their knowledge of the tropical forests. At the Barron Falls Station, there are three spots from where you can get a spectacular view of the Barron Gorge and Falls.

There is a fascinating Rainforest Interpretation Centre, which Skyrail developed in collaboration with CSIRO. Lastly, it offers aboriginal cultural walking tours. This is a packaged answer to what to do in Cairns.

10. Hop on The Kuranda Scenic Railway

railway
Photo by Lawrence Lee on Flickr

The Kuranda scenic railway has a Gold class and a Heritage class. At a height of 330 meters above sea level, one tries to obtain a window seat to enjoy the view of the dense rainforest in the best possible way. An audio commentary giving information about each location you pass by will be played.

11. Observe the Stoney Creek  

The Stoney Creek Falls are also popular among the points of interest in Cairns. People visit here usually before or after the Kuranda scenic railway ride. To gain a decent perspective of the Creek falls, you will have to cross the boulders. The best part is that you can swim in the natural swimming holes.

Stoney Creek
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

12. Click Pictures in Cairns Botanical Gardens

Located in the suburb of Cairns in North Queensland are the mesmerizing Cairns botanical gardens. Tropical plants are what make the Cairns botanical gardens. The botanical gardens are one of the best places in Cairns, Australia for nature lovers, where entry is absolutely free.

Cairns botanical gardens
Photo by Tim Cooper on Unsplash

13. Encounter Animals and Plants in Cairns Aquarium

Home to 1600 reef and rainforest creatures, the Cairns Aquarium, located in the heart of Cairns Australia, is also among one of the points of interest. It cannot be ignored as an answer to what to do In Cairns.

It houses Australia’s tallest deep reef tank, Australia’s largest freshwater billabong tank, and two underwater viewing tunnels. You will encounter animals and can even dive with sharks.

It is a great place to gain knowledge of the underwater world within the city of Cairns Australia. You are also imparted with knowledge of how important water life is and how can all work together to conserve it.

cairns aquarium
Photo by Khoa Võ on Pixels

14.  Cool off with The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

The depth of the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon ranges from ankle-deep for infants to 1.5 meters for adults. In Cairns, Australia, the heat can be oppressive at times, and there is no better place to cool off than the Cairns lagoon.

Cairns lagoon
Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash

15. Look for Art in the Cairns Regional Gallery

If you are looking for art, craft, and souvenirs within the city of Cairns, the Cairns regional gallery is the go-to place for you. Works of artists on display are changed frequently because their idea is to have one topic or theme on exhibit for one day or a specific number of days

Cairns regional gallery
Photo by Doug Beckers on Flickr

16. Become Adventurous with Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

The Cairns Zoom and wildlife dome is an adventure cum wildlife park in Cairns Australia. It is another adventurous answer to what to do in Cairns. On arrival, you will be greeted with a digital aquarium. And you can take the zipline over the crocodile house and if you are a bird lover, then this place is definitely for you.

17. Shop in Cairns Night Markets

The famous Cairns night markets of Cairns Australia are open on all days of the week. The markets are air-conditioned, thus helping you beat the Cairns’ heat, which can be scorching at times. The night markets are the perfect answer to what to do in Cairns during the night.

You will find different varieties of delicious food, arts, crafts, jewellery, electronics, souvenirs, and Cairns and Australian-themed t-shirts. Macadamia, a white nut native to Australia, is present in plenty of shops here. There are different massage services offered by saloons so that you can treat yourself to a fish spa.

Cairns night markets
Photo by Michael Zimmer on Flickr

18. Enjoy The Cairns Hot Air Balloon 

The Cairns hot air balloon is something that you cannot miss while in Tropical North Queensland. The trip never ceases to be enjoyable due to the year-round warm weather of Cairns Australia. Once you are at the top, you will be able to witness most of Australia.

Cairns hot air balloon
Photo by Lenny K Photography on Flickr

19. Swim in Crystal Cascades

Swimming in freshwater is available at Crystal Cascades. Despite its remote location, there are amenities such as a BBQ, picnic table, toilet, and changing rooms. The terrain is slick, and you must exercise considerable caution. You will see friendly fish swimming alongside you.

If you enjoy rafting, Crystal Cascades can be an excellent place to go for a short canoe or kayak adventure.

Crystal Cascades
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

20. Feed yourself in Lake Barrine Tea House

Another interesting thing to do in Cairns, where nature is at its best in North Queensland is the beautiful Lake Barrine tea house. If you want to eat while taking in a breathtaking view of Barrine Lake, this is the place to go.

It is a family-run vegetarian-friendly café where you can grab a quick and a light snack. The scones are famous here. The multi-award-winning Devonshire tea is a must-try. You can take a stroll amidst the lush rainforest that surrounds the lake, take a boat tour of the lake, or swim in the freshwater.

lake barrine tea house
Photo by Alan Lam on Flickr

21. Dive in Crater Lakes National Park

Crater Lakes National Park offers an excellent swimming experience. Nature is once again at its best here as it is across most of Australia. The attractiveness of this location is enhanced by the presence of flora and birds.

22. Reach Out to Mission Beach

Your answers to what to do in Cairns are not complete without reaching out the Mission Beach. The stunning mission beach is located at a distance of two hours from the south of Cairns city. You can take bicycle rides at the beach and treat yourself to locally sourced cuisine at the famous Shanti café.

Other points of interest at Mission Beach include Paronella Park, the Mamu Tropical Skywalk, and Dunk Island. At Dunk Island, you can rent a boat for the day and go fishing. Finally, shopaholics can shop for clothes, gifts, and souvenirs at the Sunday market.

mission beach
Photo by Horstmueller_HH on Pixabay

23. Walk Around the Undara Volcanic National Park

The Undara volcanic national park is known for its caves and the longest lava tube in the world. It provides an opportunity to stay overnight in the home-like railway carriage or in tents.

So that sums up Cairns. If you didn’t know what to do in Cairns, now you know. It is recommended to use Google maps to plan each day’s trip so that you can see more sights in a single day. It is undoubtedly the best place in Australia for enjoying Australian beach life.

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