Adventure | Beach | City | Family | Food and Wine | Road Trip | Romance 29 September 2020

10 Cool Things To Do in Cairns

Pronounced ‘Cans’, this unassuming coastal town is bursting with wonder, adventure and unique experiences. Whether it’s a week away or a weekend stopover on your way to Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef, we’ve got your tropical trip sorted with these must-do activities. Here are 10 great things to do in Cairns.

1. Cairns Esplanade

After you’ve checked into Oaks Cairns Hotel, step outside onto the expansive Cairns Esplanade for a stroll around the city. If it’s a hot day, pack your swimmers for a dip in the Esplanade Lagoon pool. You’ll also pass Muddy's Playground, an award-winning skate zone, and manicured gardens.

Family enjoying vacation at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon with white fine sand and clean blue waters

2. Cairns Aquarium

For more aquatic fun head to the Cairns Aquarium, the only aquarium in the world dedicated exclusively to the habitats and species of Tropical North Queensland. Stay dry while learning about the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics, the Gulf Savannah and Cape York regions before venturing out to explore them in real life. You’ll learn loads about the habitats and why they matter, plus get up close with the local marine life.

A kid with his parents pointing the sharks and stingrays just above them inside the 360 view of Cairns Aquarium

3. Cairns Botanic Gardens

If you’re a garden enthusiast, a trip to the Cairns Botanic Gardens is a must do. A tropical paradise located just a 10-minute drive from the centre of town, the garden is renowned as home to one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia.

Tourists getting a glimpse tropical plants exhibitions at Cairns Botanic Gardens

4. To Market, To Market

In the centre of town, Rusty’s Market is the place to meet the locals and see what’s in season. You’ll be greeted by a huge display of tropical fruits, plus people selling fresh coconuts on the street. Venture in to discover more fresh produce, cafes, fashion and flora.

As the day turns to night there’s another market to explore. Pick up a locally handcrafted souvenir and enjoy a delicious dinner at the famous Cairns Night Markets, open 365 days a year.

Huge display of tropical fruits with a local vendor seen handing over some fresh fruits to a little girl at Rusty Markets

5. Kuranda Rainforest Village

Kuranda is a colourful, quirky rainforest village tucked away in the mountains just outside Cairns. With a much cooler climate thanks to its high altitude, explore the arts and crafts hub with two outdoor markets open seven days a week – the Kuranda Original Markets and the Heritage Market.

Get up close and personal with some of Tropical North Queensland’s iconic wildlife at the Koala Gardens, Rainforestation Nature Park, Birdworld or the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.

Tourists walk along the Kuranda Rainforest Markets exploring the left and right hubs of arts and crafts

6. Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Get a bird’s eye view with the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Glide over the canopy of one of the world’s oldest continually surviving tropical rainforests then descend deep into the forest to uncover its wonder up close.

A couple taking a selfie inside the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway with stunning views of the rainforest

7. Kuranda Scenic Railway

For a truly unique rail journey, jump aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Dating back to the 1890s, the train runs from Cairns to Kuranda winding through ancient forest, passing through 15 hand-cut tunnels and across 37 bridges.

A couple jumped aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway winding through ancient forest, passing through 15 hand-cut tunnels and across 37 bridges.

8. Barron Falls

Wind your way through the lush forest on the elevated walkway before you come to the Din Din Barron Falls lookouts. In the tropical wet season, witness the waterfall transform from a trickle into a cloud of raging mist as the falls thunder spectacularly down the gorge.

Stunning view of the Barron Falls with lush forest and waterfalls

9. Green Island

A popular adventure from Cairns, this 12 hectare island is made of coral built up over thousands of years. Visit the coral cay on a half-day or full-day boat trip and spend a relaxing few hours exploring the forest, snorkeling off the beaches or relaxing on the bays.

Tourists taking their way to a boat trip to spend a relaxing few hours exploring the forest, snorkeling off the beaches or relaxing on the bays.

10. Palm Cove

This tropical paradise is just a 30-minute drive from Cairns and an ideal spot to relax by the sparkling water of the Coral Sea. The unique coastal village is renowned for its centuries old “paperbark” Melaleuca trees that line the casual esplanade. It’s a favourite spot for photographers and those looking to simply relax and enjoy a peaceful few hours between the rainforest and the reef.

A woman leaning outside her car relaxing and enjoying a peaceful view of the Palm Cove Beach after a long ride

Ready for your own tropical escape to Cairns?