Your Travel Guide to Cairns for fun in the sun
Located in tropical north Queensland, Cairns is a popular destination to one of the best fun in the sun hotspots in Australia. Here’s our travel guide to Cairns to have some fun in the sun as you explore some of the most amazing natural wonders.
There are a range of attractions in and around Cairns so you’ll never have to travel too far to have fun in the sun.
Relax at the beaches or take a trip out to the magical Great Barrier Reef. Discover the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest. See some of Australia’s largest predators in the wild or take the scenic railway into the quaint little township of Kuranda. Get yourself some fun in the sun.
Find out everything you need to know before visiting Cairns.
Tips for fun in the sun with our Travel Guide to Cairns
My favourite things to see and do in Far North Queensland
- Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail through the rainforest tree-tops
- Go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef
- Visit the Daintree, the most ancient rainforest in the world
Read next: Daintree Escape – 4 days with Mother Nature
Fun in the sun in our Cairns Travel Guide
The city of Cairns itself has an array of cafes and great restaurants. Dine at one of popular restaurants or enjoy a cold beer at one of the pubs overlooking the marina. Take advantage of Cairns’ balmy weather and dine alfresco on The Esplanade.
- Ocean fresh seafood from Barnacle Bills which has been on the Esplanade as long as I can remember
- Try the Asian fusion style menus from The Raw Prawn and Tha Fish.
- Or, venture towards the northern beaches to discover great restaurants along the way.
If you’re feeling social, check out the range of nightclubs and pubs that give the city its famous nightlife scene.
Go shopping. Treat yourself to something exceptional! Cairns has a range of boutique shopping opportunities to suit the most discerning shopper. Pick up a great deal or simply mingle with the locals at Rusty’s Markets. Taste some of the exotic fruits grown locally and enjoy a smoothie of your favourite flavours.
Get out in the famous Queensland sunshine and spend an afternoon by the hotel pool or the saltwater lagoon on the Esplanade. If you’re feeling lively, drop into the free water-aerobics classes on the waterfront shared by visitors and locals alike.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best places to dive in the world with Cairns the most popular jumping off point for dive trips to the reef. The world’s largest coral reef system is made up of 3000 coral reefs and over 900 beautiful islands and coral cays.
Full-day and half-day tours are available to take you snorkeling, diving and exploring some of the most pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Just imagine enjoying the sunshine or lazing on the beaches or coral islands on the famous GBR.
Take a short high-speed ferry ride to beautiful Fitzroy Island or Green Island. Explore the rainforest walking tracks or snorkel around the sandy white beaches and clear blue waters. Definitely, fun in the sun!
Explore Port Douglas
In one weekend you can explore the stunning rainforests of the Daintree, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and ride the rapids of the crystal-clear Mossman River.
Just an hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas is the only place on the planet where two World Heritage listed areas sit side-by-side.
A seaside paradise that draws the rich and famous, Port Douglas features the beautiful Four Mile Beach, fine dining and endless shopping opportunities.
Leave the Port Douglas Marina for a spectacular day-trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit the Daintree Rainforest
The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is two hours drive north of Cairns.
Take a short drive north and immerse yourself in the ancient Daintree Rainforest.
Did you know that the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is over 180 Million years old? Imagine being in the pristine wilderness with ancient and rare plants and exotic birds and animals.
The Daintree is home to some of the most diverse range of plants, birds and unique animals on earth. Its here you are likely to see the rare tree-dwelling kangaroo and the endangered cassowary.
Visit the Daintree Discovery Centre. Walk the Aerial Walkway amidst the rainforest or cruise along the Daintree River to spot wildlife in its natural habitat. Day trips are available from Cairns and Port Douglas, or hire a car and take the scenic drive across the Daintree River ferry.
Learn about the local Aboriginal culture
If you’re visiting Mossman make sure you visit the cultural centre for a guided tour of the beautiful Mossman Gorge and the rainforest. North Queensland is rich in history and home to the world’s oldest living culture dating back more than 40,000 years.
Learn more at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Experience authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through theatre, guided bush walks and didgeridoo shows. It’s an experience that will stay with you forever!
Visit Kuranda’s Village in the Rainforest
The mountain village of Kuranda is nestled within the tropical rainforest, and known for its vibrant arts community. Local markets are open daily, with a range of unique handmade jewellery, leather goods and Aboriginal art. Visit the cafes, galleries and boutiques along the village streets.
The journey to Kuranda is half the experience! The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway takes you high above the rainforest canopy with extraordinary views over Cairns city, the beaches and the rainforest. Returning to Cairns on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway as it descents through the dense rainforest with views of the stunning Barron Gorge.
Visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary at Kuranda with over 2000 magnificent tropical butterflies. Species such as the electric-blue Ulysses and the stunning Cairns Birdwing butterflies are just a few that call this aviary home.
Head up to the Tablelands
Take a short drive into the hinterlands and you will find the Atherton Tablelands. Home to spectacular waterfalls, National Park walks, extinct volcano’s such as the Crater, Lake Barrine (famous for its Devonshire teas) and Lake Eacham.
Explore the quaint little village of Yungaburra, a unique historic township with excellent country markets and platypus spotting opportunities. The Cathedral Fig Tree in Yungaburra is one of my favourite stops whenever I visit the Tablelands. This magnificent tree is now surrounded by an above-ground walkway to ensure the best viewing.
Visit nearby Gallo’s Dairyland is a popular restaurant, cheese factory and chocolate manufacturer. Sample the coffee, gourmet chocolate, cheese, wines and other fresh produce grown nearby.
Drive south towards Mission Beach
The Cassowary Coast is brimming with lush rainforest, cool mountain streams and crystal-clear rivers. Its a nature-lovers paradise with fantastic fishing, excellent walking trails and fascinating birdlife.
Mission Beach is a sleepy little beachside town in the Cassowary Coast region, just south of Cairns. Its not unusual to see the endangered cassowary wandering along the roadside on your travels.
Take the time to stop into Paronella Park. Jose Paronella had a dream to build a castle at Mena Creek Falls. Paronella Park is Heritage listed and has received numerous tourism awards.
If you’re into Fishing
Cairns and Port Douglas are the best locations to snare yourself the perfect fishing trip. Barramundi, marlin, coral trout, red emperor and much more! The marina’s are a fisherman’s dream with fishing boats, sailing boats and tour launches ready for the asking.
Treat yourself to a memorable fishing experience whilst you’re in North Queensland.
Looking for an adrenaline rush?
There’s lots to do to give you a little ‘extreme’ adventure!
Some of the best whitewater rafting rapids in Australia are on the nearby Tully and Barron rivers. It’s the place to go for extreme adventures.
Best time to visit Cairns
The tropical climate in Cairns ensures you will have great weather throughout the majority of the year.
Cairns weather is good any time of the year although it is best from June to October in the dry season. Swimming is perfect at 25-31℃ throughout the year although, keep in mind the wet season is between December and May.
How to get there
Flights: International flights arrive into Cairns daily so check with your airline to see if they fly into Cairns, direct. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin and Brisbane are Australia’s major domestic airline hubs which will connect your travel between all major capital cities.
Rail: Queensland Rail travels between Brisbane and Cairns 5 days a week so check this link for further details.
Roadtrip: There’s always an opportunity to take a road-trip north along the Queensland coast and enjoy the changing landscape along the way. Allow 3 – 4 weeks to drive Brisbane to Cairns to see as much as you can.
Queenslanders often are heard to say
Beautiful one day, Perfect the next!” … It’s true!
Where to stay
There are literally thousands of places to stay in Cairns and tropical north Queensland. Check our links below for somewhere to suit your style and budget.
If you’re up for some fun in the sun, pin this guide to Cairns in Pinterest.
Have you been to Cairns yet? Enjoy our best travel guide for fun in the sun and get yourself an awesome holiday experience.