Things to Do Cairns

Things to do in Cairns explore our list of the best things to do and see in and around Cairns.

Starting with the Great Barrier Reef

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this wonder of the world. Whether by snorkelling, diving, staying overnight, or doing a day tour to the many islands.

Swim with unique fish between colourful coral reef outcrops in this fantastic marine aquarium.

Cairns is the best and most convenient place to launch your reef experience. Click here for day tours and overnight stays!


Cairns Aquarium

Getting up close to the Great Barrier Reef’s wonders is also possible on dry land at the Cairns Aquarium. This new facility is a fantastic world-class venue packed with interactive educational fun. As well as the wonders of the oceans, you can also see rainforest plants and animals, which is excellent if you are short on time or looking to make the most of one attraction. Add a little more excitement with a Behind the Scenes tour, the Sea Explorer 5D virtual submarine tour, or camp out for the night at the aquarium for a Shark Sleepover. Open 365 days of the year, this a must-see attraction.

Cairns Aquarium

Tropical Island Escapes

Cairns is the ideal starting point for visiting the nearby islands.  Day tour and extended stays. Among the most popular are Green Island and Fitzroy Island.  Both short boat trips from Cairns Marlin Marina offer day-return activities or more extended stays. Snorkelling, scuba diving and underwater reef viewing are available.

Things to do in Cairns Tropical Islands

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 Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the mainland and, coupled with the Great Barrier Reef, is easily accessible from Cairns. Take the chance to walk between towering trees, swim under waterfalls, check wildlife with expert indigenous guides, or take a river cruise among the crocs and mangroves.

Cairns Walking Tracks

The four Arrow Circuit tracks through Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park offer stunning views and are home to rainforest, eucalyptus and grasslands.

They range in degree of difficulty and length from 1.5km to 6km and are differentiated in Red, Green, Blue and Yellow arrows.

The Park is behind Cairns Botanic Gardens, a full-day walking and exploring tour in its own right.

For a challenging hike, head to Walsh’s Pyramid. For a more relaxing walk, opt for one of the heritage trails in the Cairns CBD.


White Water Rafting

This popular activity for thrill-seekers is a unique experience to test your endurance and nerve in rapidly flowing waters as part of a team. Riding an inflatable raft down a raging river is exhilarating and fun and can be done on the Barron River and Tully River and at Behana Gorge.


Hot Air Ballooning

Dependable weather and stunning scenery over Atherton Tableland mountain ranges and agricultural lowlands make ballooning an unforgettable experience.  The activity is suitable almost every day of the year.  Wake up early to start this tour. It’s perfect for witnessing the sunrise and glorious break-of-day colour hues.



Whether you are an amateur angler or a dedicated fisher, fishing of all sorts is available for every visitor to Cairns. Fishing off the beaches and headlands, beside the highway, or from purpose-built reef fishing boats. And the headline activity loved by movie stars and the rich and famous is Big Game fishing on the outer reef.


Water Activities

What better way to soak in the tropical sun than to schedule some water activities. Swim in the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon in the city centre.  Next, head for one of the northern beaches for a bit of sun and sand.

After the beach, there is a beach strip from small and quiet Machans Beach to quiet local favourite Trinity Beach and trendy and vibrant Palm Cove. Make it into a more extended trip by heading further north to Ellis Beach and Port Douglas.

Swimming holes

Alternatively, seek out one of the famous swimming holes that nestle in the forest. These are perfect for when the summer sun might be too hot on the beach.

Local favourite spots include Crystal Cascades, Ross & Locke, the Boulders, Behana Gorge and Mossman Gorge.

You can also combine a swim with a tour of the region’s magical waterfalls to let vertical walls of water thunder down on you.

Close to Cairns city, there is Fairy Falls at the popular swimming spot Crystal Cascades.

Several spectacular waterfalls make up the Waterfall Circuit on the Atherton Tablelands – Tchupala, Wallicher, Nandroya; Milla Milla Falls, Zillie, Ellinjaa, and Malanda.

If you visit the region in the wet season, the waterfalls are absolutely stunning and ferociously alive. Don’t miss two classics, the majestic Blencoe Falls and Stoney Creek Falls, the latter perfectly caught in the photo stop on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

South of Cairns

Wooroonooran National Park is featuring Josephine Falls, a tiered waterfall with a naturally-formed water slide.


Cape York

And if you get a chance to travel north to Cape York. Experience the plunge pools at the base of Fruit Bat, Twin and Eliot Falls.