You really couldn’t ask for more out of a destination when it comes to things to do in Cairns, Australia. The gateway to Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef as well as the massive 110-million-year-old Daintree Rainforest, Cairns overflows with incredible beaches, abundant rare wildlife, picturesque secluded islands, caves, and much, much, more. Cairns Australia points of interest.
Enjoying a tropical climate in far North Queensland, the region showcases some of the best natural attractions Australia has to offer. So why not travel beyond the major metropolitan cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to embark on a true Aussie adventure in Cairns.
Once you arrive, there is definitely no shortage of epic day trips at your disposal, all within reach of Cairns’ best hotels. When planning your Cairns itinerary, we highly recommend adding the following day trips in the surrounds.
Looking for Things to Do in Cairns? Take These Incredible Day Trips!
At 1,200 square kilometres, Cairns sightseeing doesn’t get better than Daintree National Park; Australia’s largest tropical rainforest. It is home to some of Australia’s most notable animals as well as rarities found nowhere else on the continent.
You would think you were in the middle of the Amazon with the sheer diversity of life here. Massive Southern Cassowary birds roam like prehistoric dinosaurs, and saltwater crocodiles lurk in the Daintree River. Spot platypus, echidnas, tree kangaroos, vibrant Ulysses butterflies, snakes, and plants straight out of Jurassic Park. Things to do around Cairns.
It’s hard to believe just how accessible this pure wilderness area is and you will get lost in another world as you hike along one of numerous trails available.
Kuranda: The Village in the Rainforest
Kuranda is a town which is literally in the middle of lush tropical rainforest, and a day trip here offers great walks to enjoy its rich wildlife. Get your photo taken with a koala at the Koala Gardens, witness an Aboriginal cultural performance, or shop for souvenirs and crafts at the world famous Kuranda Heritage Markets. Self drive day trips from Cairns.
Cover yourself in over 1500 vibrant tropical butterflies at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary where you can also sneak a peek at their breeding facility to learn and witness their magical transformation from caterpillar to winged wonder. What to do in Cairns Australia.
You’re sure to see a wealth of birds in Daintree, but a visit to Birdworld Kuranda will allow you a more up close and personal experience with over 80 species of tropical birds from not only Australia but across the world. You’re sure to walk away with some incredible photos. Cairns tourist attractions.
Travel to this beautiful village via the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns, or the Skyrail Cableway for a true adventure day trip. Cairns to do.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway & Kuranda Scenic Railway
A two hour journey aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway is the perfect way to travel to the Kuranda Village. Beginning in Cairns, the rail line cuts through Barron Gorge National Park where you will witness several waterfalls along your journey. Cairns Australia points of interest.
This 120 year old railway is an incredible feat in engineering, and you will pass through numerous tunnels and bridges. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway was once the longest gondola cableway in the world. Cairns attractions.
Spanning 7.5km long, this multi award winning attraction travels between Smithfield and Kuranda giving you a whole different view to the world’s oldest living rainforest. The gondolas accommodate six people and two station stops allow you to stretch your legs along the one and a half hour trip (2.5 hour return). What to do in Cairns.
A 45 minute high speed ferry takes you from Cairns to one of the Great Barrier Reef’s most pristine natural islands. The island is largely protected by National Park status with only a single resort available for visitors wishing for an extended visit. Trips around Cairns.
Enjoy activities like snorkelling, glass bottom boats, or simply hike the numerous trails through the National Park. The island is also home to one of Australia’s top 5 beaches, Nudey Beach. Despite its name, nudity is not allowed, as there are no legal nude beaches within the state. Cairns day trips.
The Atherton Tablelands, located to the southwest of Cairns, is home to the Tinaroo Dam and Lake. The lake offers 200km of shoreline and is great for water skiing, house boating, sailing, and fishing. Massive barramundi can be caught from the lake where they enjoy a life free from predators.
Hiking trails provide access into the surrounding National Park along with geological wonders including lava tubes, volcanoes, craters, and crystal caves. A further drive west allows you to explore the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park. One of the best things to do in Cairns Australia.
This off the beaten track destination is located within Daintree National Park, and is roughly a three hour drive from Cairns. Take the Dubuji Boardwalk to Myall Beach or enjoy one of many other hikes in the area.
Part of the adventure of driving to Cape Tribulation is the Daintree River Ferry crossing which takes passengers and up to 30 vehicles at a time into a wilderness with very spotty cell service and no internet.
The area is popular with backpackers and offers a wide array of outdoor recreational activities including horseback riding, 4WD tours, and cruising for crocodiles. Roadtrips from Cairns.
Located within the southern area of Daintree, Mossman Gorge offers wonderful trails from which to experience the rainforest. The Mossman Gorge Centre offers visitors authentic North Queensland Aboriginal experiences from the traditional landowners of the region, the Kuku Yalanji people.
Hike the rainforest circuit track for the chance to see Boyd’s forest dragons and tree kangaroos. The Gorge can be accessed via a shuttle bus which runs every 15 minutes from the Mossman Gorge Centre or you can choose to walk the 2km from the centre’s parking lot. Cairns sightseeing.
Half the fun and excitement of Port Douglas is in getting there. Located along one of Australia’s most beautiful drives, The Tropical Drive, Port Douglas is situated in-between surf and jungle. Home to many luxury hotels, golf courses, and restaurants, Port Douglas is a true oasis in the middle of the rainforest.
The beautiful Four Mile Beach is popular with kite surfers who enjoy an aerial view over Port Douglas via Flagstaff Hill. Port Douglas also has no shortage of tour companies running snorkel and scuba trips to the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns attractions.
Make a stop at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures along the way where you can feed massive crocs and explore the eco-sanctuary’s 2100m of boardwalks and pathways; home to an abundance of other native Australian wildlife.
When to Visit:
Tropical North Queensland experiences two seasons – the wet season (October to March) and the dry season (April and September).
August is generally the best time to visit in dry season to avoid school holiday crowds, and enjoy slightly cooler temperatures and minimal rainfall.
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Photo credits: Southern Cassowary by cuatrok77. Kuranda Bird Sanctuary by craigles75. Australian butterfly sanctuary by Carolien Coenen. Skyrail Cable Car Cairns by Matthew and Heather. View from the Cable Car by Lenny K Photography. Fitzroy Island by PaulSchliebs. Cape Tribulation forest by nina_tiffany. Saltwater crocodile by Jon Connell.