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City of Cairns from above

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Cairns - Gateway to Diver’s Paradise

Cairns is located in north-eastern Australia and is a tropical, oceanfront oasis. With a magnificent backdrop of lush tropical rainforests, mountains and views of the sparkling Coral Sea, it is hard to beat this city for the sheer natural beauty surrounding it. Cairns is known as the diving capital of Australia due to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and many of Australia’s most spectacular diving spots. Whether it is the heat and humidity or the just hospitality of the local bars and restaurants, you’ll want to slow down and relax when visiting Cairns. While there is no beach right in town, the popular Cairns Esplanade with its lagoon is a unique treat.

  1. Kuranda Scenic Railway
  2. Palm Cove
  3. Kuranda Skyrail
  4. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  5. Great Barrier Reef
  6. Daintree Rainforest
  7. Port Douglas
  8. Cairns Esplanade
  9. Cape Tribulation

The Top Attractions in Cairns

1. Kuranda Scenic Railway

The world heritage-listed Kuranda Scenic Railway gives you an authentic and unique travel experience through the Australian rainforest, from Cairns to the village of Kuranda. The famous railway line rises from sea level to over 1000 feet and meanders through lush rainforests, past spectacular waterfalls and along the stunning Barron Gorge. On this trip, you are so close to nature you can almost touch it. Featuring over twelve hundred species of flowering plants, eight hundred different trees and spectacular orchids - you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of this amazing rainforest. In February, the track is considered particularly beautiful, as everything is green and blooming.

2. Palm Cove

Palm Cove is a charming beach town, just down the road from Cairns, that has won numerous awards for its world-class spas and restaurants and features immaculate beaches as well. The waterfront promenade is surrounded by luxury resorts as well as trendy boutiques. Spend your day lazing on the beach or participating in any number of adventurous water sports. Be sure to end your day on the beach to enjoy a spectacular sunset sure to take your breath away.

3. Kuranda Skyrail

The Skyrail experience is one of the most popular activities around Cairns and gives you a truly unique view of the tropical rainforest that dominates the area. The nearly 5-mile long cable car route runs from Smithfield (just outside Cairns) to the village of Kuranda. The travel time for the six-person gondola is about 1.5 hours. Not only for tourists, it is also a popular means of transportation for locals - even the Olympic flame used the Skyrail on its way to the 2000 Summer Olympics! There is also the possibility to borrow an audio guide, which is recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the region during the trip.

4. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

This Aboriginal Culture Park presents this 40,000-year-old Aboriginal culture through song and dance using the latest in theatre technology. Located in Smithfield at the base of the Skyrail cableway, it is both an entertaining spectacle, and educational experience for everyone. There are interactive tours and activities held with Aboriginal people who teach visitors about their culture and traditional customs.

5. The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is not a single reef, but rather almost 2900 individual reefs spanning over 1400 miles - it can even be seen from space! If you are looking for the world’s most beautiful area for snorkelling, sailing, diving or swimming, you’ve found it! Home to a collection of diverse marine life in the most vivid colours, the Great Barrier Reef gives visitors the opportunity for a great adventure. Whether you are watching turtle hatchings on Heron Island or spotting tree-bound Koalas on Magnetic Island, you’ll be sure to fall in love with the exotic wildlife on dry land here as well.

6. Daintree Rainforest

At around 450 square miles, the World-Heritage listed Daintree rainforest is part of the largest contiguous tropical rainforest on the Australian continent. It is also the world's oldest rainforest, offering a diverse and incomparable ecosystem that can only be found here. So impressive is this rainforest, that it was even used as inspiration for the movie Avatar. From jungle hiking (day or night tours), zip-lining and searching for saltwater crocodiles you’ll be sure to enjoy visiting one of the wildest and extraordinary regions on earth.

7. Port Douglas

Located just an hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas began life as a village for nearby gold miners. Now known primarily for Four Mile Beach and the two natural wonders right on its doorstep: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Even as Port Douglas gets more and more resorts, it still offers a lovely respite from the sometimes hectic holiday city of Cairns.

8. Cairns Esplanade

The Cairns Esplanade offers a variety of leisure activities for all ages. Come down to shop, have a coffee, or use one of the free BBQs to make your own meal. A major attraction here is the artificial saltwater lagoon - perfect for safe swimming year-round. The lagoon waters range from just over 2 feet to 5 feet deep for beginners and non-swimmers to enjoy as well. The Esplanade also hosts many restaurants, weekly live music and fire shows as well as wonderful buskers.

9. Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is a remote headland and ecotourism destination a couple hours north of Cairns. Cape Tribulation is also home to 2 interpretive walks - Dubuji Boardwalk through the forest and mangroves and Maardja Botanical Walk, through the Daintree coastal rainforest. Horseback trips and even guided night walks to explore the rainforest are also available.

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