Our top sights, highlights and exclusive tips
A tropical city on the east coast of Australia, Cairns calls the intrepid explorer and luxury lounger alike. Fully developed from its shantytown past, the city has grown from a gold rush town to hopping tourist centre with the Great Barrier Reef just a boat ride away. But there’s much more to the city than its location. Outdoor activities such as the Esplanade Lagoon, 4,800 square metre saltwater facility thrills visitors. Boat cruises run daily from the pier along the coast of the Coral Sea. Hike a mountain or trek through a rainforest full of hanging trees and rare flora as you explore the city and its surroundings.
Kuranda Scenic Railway
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
Great Barrier Reef
Take a vintage train ride to discover pristine rainforest full of waterfalls and exotic plants. The Kuranda Scenic Railway weaves through the Barron Gorge National Park, rises with mountains and dips towards ravines. It’s a thrilling ride that brings you close to orchids, 800 types of tree, and exotic palms. Go above 300 metres on a ride that’s like no other.
A beach community where palmy Melaleuca trees lean towards the blue of the ocean, Palm Cove’s beauty is complemented by world-class spas, restaurants, and a promenade of boutiques. Hire a bike and cruise the coastline with the sun on your back. Cool off in the water before visiting koala gardens for a cuddle. End your day in utter relaxation with sumptuous seafood as the sun dips beyond the horizon.
With a roundtrip of approximately three hours, the Kuranda Skyrail whisks you towards the sky and across the Daintree Rainforest, a place of hanging vines, ferns, and cycads. A five-mile cable car ride complete with glass floor, the Skyrail runs from Smithfield to the village of Kuranda. Red Peak is the highest station at 544 metres. Stop at a treetop hanging bridge and have a look down.
The Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park celebrates the oldest living culture in the world. Australia’s diverse Aboriginal heritage dates back over 40,000 years. Learn how to “shake a leg” by participating in performances from the Djabugay corroborees. Enjoy a traditional dinner and settle in by the fire for “dreamtime stories.” The Bama people will offer to paint your face linking you to the ancient land. Let the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo lead you.
The world’s largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef is a world underwater. With over 2,900 reefs that stretch 1,400 miles, discover the clownfish famed in the movie Finding Nemo in this natural wonder of the world. Dive into the Coral Sea and move along a reef that’s the size of 70 million football fields to see the 1,500--or more--plant and animal species that make their home there.
Beyond the fanning leaves of the Daintree Rainforest, where sunlight bursts through a place unaffected by artificial structures, is 450 square miles of jungle. Hiking and zip-lining are two popular activities in a place unaffected by artificial interference. Thousands of bird species and 12,000 types of insects ensure that as you step over giant branches and push through hanging vine, you’ll be asking your tour guide nature questions at every turn.
At Port Douglas, enjoy a five-star meal and weniki tiki cocktail by the water after a day spent at Four Mile Beach. In this glam setting of yachts, spas, and cafes. Lean back and relax in a balmy tropical climate that attracts visitors year-round. Spend the night under the stars to dream up your next adventure.
Walk between saltwater lagoons on the Cairns Esplanade boardwalk. Several live music venues provide entertainment day or night. Enjoy good conversation, honest grub, and a local beer before taking in a fire show. If in for the weekend enjoy a market that features arts and crafts made locally, and colourful characters such as the famous butterfly man.
A horse ride through the waters of Cape Tribulation, three hours north of Cairns, is simply incredible. This headland setting attracts the eco-minded for its preserved beach location. Two treks you can enjoy are Dubuji Boardwalk and Maardja Botanical Walk. The beach itself is sheltered when an east-side wind blows through the region. A zipline through the forest or overnight stay in a fruit orchard come highly recommended.
Fast & easy travel planning
Individually designed dream trips
Personal advice from Tourlane experts
Flights, itineraries, guides - all from a single source
Free and non-binding offers