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Queensland’s borders are scheduled to reopen to eager tourists looking to soak up some summer sunshine. The fully vaccinated will be able to enter the state without having to quarantine or undertake any Covid tests so long as they aren’t coming from a known hotspot.

If you’re thinking of booking a Queensland getaway but are tired of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, or simply wish to avoid large crowds this summer, then head to Far North Queensland where tranquillity and tropical relaxation awaits.

There’s not much to dislike about Far North Queensland. With its year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches, and stunning drives, FNQ offers an oasis where you can opt for as much relaxation or adventure as you wish.

FNQ is home to dozens of national parks and three world heritage sites, not to mention a broad range of activities. Come for the endless nature and stay for the food, wine, and pampering.

You’ll also find an impressive collection of accommodation options in Far North Queensland whether you’re staying at Hilton Cairns or one of the many other luxurious Cairns hotels that make a perfect base for exploring Australia’s tropical north.

To further entice you to take a trip to FNQ this summer, here are some of the best spots to check out, many of which rank as some of the top-rated attractions in all of Australia.

Top 10 Places to See During Your Far North Queensland Getaway

Great Barrier Reef

Whitsundays RF

One can’t speak of Far North Queensland of course without highlighting the Great Barrier Reef. The world’s largest coral reef system attracts visitors from all around the world, and now is the perfect time to experience the Reef when tourist numbers are a fraction of what they normally are.

There are many islands to explore in the Great Barrier Reef including Lizard, Green, Fitzroy, and Hamilton Island. The islands of the GBR can easily be reached from Cairns via seaplane, ferry, helicopter, and charter boat, with countless tour operators to choose from.

Enjoy some snorkelling and diving or book a glass-bottomed boat tour to witness the life beneath the sea. Top dive sites include Agincourt Reef and Osprey Reef, but there are really endless available sites located off the many islands, most of which can be experienced via a day trip on the water from Cairns.

While the mass coral spawning may be coming to an end as the summer comes into full swing, you may witness several different sea turtle species, reef sharks, manta rays, dugongs, and minke whales which are present from March to October.

Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest Cairns Queensland RF

If having the world’s largest coral reef system wasn’t enough, FNQ is also of course home to one of Earth’s most impressive land-based natural attractions.

The Daintree Rainforest is both Australia’s largest and the world’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest. It is home to both iconic Aussie animals as well as rather unique wildlife found nowhere else.

Observe everything from giant saltwater crocodiles to beautiful metallic-blue Ulysses butterflies. There are also flightless cassowaries and tree-climbing kangaroos.

Spot the wildlife of the rainforest via hiking trails, scenic drives, on the back of a horse, or on a river cruise. With such a diversity of life to be found here, you’re sure of having more than a few memorable wildlife encounters.


Another great way to experience FNQ’s rainforest is by visiting Kuranda, the so-called village in the rainforest. Accessible via a 120-year-old scenic railway or an impressive 7.5km gondola cableway, there are a number of family-friendly attractions to be found in the village.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway connects Cairns with Kuranda, while the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway runs between Smithfield and Kuranda.

You’ll pass through or over Barron Gorge National Park and the mighty Barron Falls. Opt for a glass-floor gondola on the rainforest cableway for a truly unique perspective of the rainforest below.

Once in Kuranda, there are a number of wildlife-themed attractions to explore with your kids, where you can walk amongst tropical butterflies, cuddle a koala, or be introduced to a number of birds. There are also outdoor markets to shop for hand-crafted goods and local produce, as well as plenty of restaurants and cafes to have lunch.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to also learn about local Indigenous culture as well in Kuranda, with a variety of cultural activities being available.

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation Beach Queensland RF

Escape civilisation by heading north out of Cairns across the Daintree River. The destination is Cape Tribulation where you can get a taste of true wilderness and leave behind Wi-Fi and other modern-day distractions.

A ferry takes you and your vehicle across the river on which you can also book crocodile-spotting tours. 

Ride horses on the beach, hike one of the numerous rainforest trails, or get truly adventurous by tackling the scenic and somewhat challenging at times 4WD Bloomfield Track which heads even further north to Cooktown.

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge is a section of rainforest within the Daintree which offers up great hiking tracks to view wildlife as well as special Dreamtime Walks where you can learn about the culture of the local indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.

There are also refreshing water holes to cool off during the humid summer days.

Atherton Tablelands

Millaa Millaa Falls Queensland RF

Escape the heat of the city by heading southwest of Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands. This cooler region of FNQ is home to a number of natural attractions including a popular waterfall circuit, the famous 500-year-old Curtin Fig Tree, volcanic lakes, and caves.

Enjoy water skiing, kayaking, hiking, fishing for barramundi on Lake Tinaroo, and hot air ballooning. The Tablelands are an especially good spot to observe both platypus and Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos.

Further west, you can explore Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.

Whitehaven Beach

If you like your beach sand soft, white, fine, and cool even during the midday heat of summer, then Whitehaven Beach is for you.

Located on Whitsunday Island which is the largest island in the Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach can be reached via boat or seaplane. It’s often touted as one of the finest beaches in the world, with images of its crystal white sand against turquoise waters likely creeping into your Instagram feed from time to time.

Some people come here simply to suntan while others enjoy swimming and snorkelling. Everyone, however, makes a point to check out Tongue Point lookout to witness the dramatic and often colourful natural artistry created by the shifting tides at Hill Inlet.

Cattana Wetlands

Cattana Wetlands Queensland Australia RF

Once a sugar cane farm, Smithfield’s Cattana Wetlands now attracts birdwatchers from around the country. The land has been restored to its natural state which has attracted all kinds of wetland birds such as jacanas, egrets, herons, magpie geese, and various birds of prey.

Manicured trails make their way around the many man-made saltwater and freshwater lakes where you are bound to spot a large number of birds, especially during the winter months.

Note that birds here are most active during the early mornings and just before sunset.

Golden Drop Winery

This family owned and operated boutique winery sits on one of the largest commercial mango plantations in Australia.

Once a tobacco farm, it’s now made a big transition and is said to be the first commercial mango winery in the world, where you can sample a range of refreshingly light wines crafted from Australian Kensington Red Mangoes.

In addition to their traditional wines, you can also try mango port, fortified liqueur, and sparkling wine. The best part is you can be sipping mango wine in the sunshine just an hour west of Cairns.

Mission Beach

Cassowary RF

Head south of Cairns roughly two hours to discover a laid-back collection of beach villages that are collectively known as Mission Beach. While this region may not have a very large resident human population, it’s said to have one of Queensland’s highest concentrations of free-roaming cassowaries.

Having remained uncommercialised, Mission Beach makes a great day trip from Cairns where you can also visit the lush gardens, waterfalls, and castle of Paronella Park, built over 85 years ago by a Spanish immigrant.

Just 4km offshore from Mission Beach, you then have the beautiful Dunk Island to explore which is largely national park. The island can be accessed via a 10-minute ferry ride that operates daily.

While there’s a good chance you’ll spot a cassowary simply roaming through town in Mission Beach, you can also check out the nearby Dreaming Trail in Djiru National Park to catch these giant birds in a more natural setting outside of the RV parks in town. Note that the 3-kilometre trail can be muddy at times and keep a watchful eye out for leeches if going off trail.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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