Sun lovers will always be drawn to the beauty of Cairns, with Australia’s Tropical North offering a slower and more enjoyable escape that boasts plenty of natural sights and attractions to boot.
If you want to take your family to a destination that is family-friendly and rich in quality experiences, then Cairns is likely to have a little something for you. Couples and thrill seekers will also find lots to do and love in this balmy paradise.
So what should your Cairns trip itinerary look like? And how should you prepare for this upcoming trip to paradise, alongside booking your Cairns accommodation and finalising your flight schedule? To help with your trip planning, we’ve laid out all the best things to see and do in Australia’s Tropical North, as well as some preparatory steps that can help your upcoming tropical holiday feel just that little bit more magical and enriching.
Get your scuba diving license
Where better to learn to scuba dive than in Cairns? Home to the Great Barrier Reef and some of Australia’s most beautiful island destinations, you can get PADI certified in Cairns and walk away with an Open Water diving licence.
And if you already have an Open Water licence, then why not go that extra bit further and acquire your Advanced Open Water licence? Becoming certified is a two to three-day course, and the diving provider will provide transport that carries you from the diving office to the boat, and back to the office again. There is lunch and refreshments provided on the boat, as well as a scuba suit, air tank and all the other diving equipment you’ll need to dive comfortably.
Go to Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy Island is a short journey from the Cairns coastline and is absolutely beautiful. It has an untouched look and feel that can truly help you realise your mid-week daydreams about escaping to a desert island.
Upon arriving at Fitzroy Island after your scenic ferry ride to its humble docks, you will be greeted with white sand, palms, rocks and rock pools and a stunning view of Cairns and the wider Coral Sea. We recommend packing a picnic lunch for you and your fellow travel party to enjoy by the water following your arrival, just to give you enough fuel to then explore the many hiking trails that dot the length of the island and lead to some truly breathtaking views and even some historic locations, like the island’s lighthouse.
Enjoy the Cairns Esplanade
The Esplanade in Cairns is a fantastic commercial strip that offers tourists a range of quality restaurants, cafes, galleries, hotels and shops. If you are booking your Cairns accommodation, be sure to look at its proximity to the Esplanade first, as this is a hot spot and will save you from having to travel far in order to enjoy the very best of Cairns. If outdoor adventuring is not what you want for a holiday, then the Esplanade will feel more like a restorative getaway.
This particular section of Cairns township also has plenty on offer for families travelling with younger kids. For instance, the Esplanade features three different playgrounds for kids of all ages to enjoy. Cairns Esplanade Lagoon is also nearby and provides a great public swimming area that is ideal for kids, with water fountains, change rooms and other facilities to accommodate you for a full day of fun in and out of the sun.
Head to Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is a fabulous day trip and a fine example of all the natural beauty that Queensland has to offer. There are some stunning waterfalls to be found in Mossman Gorge, and flowing currents you can sit in as you relax. It is not recommended to swim in Mossman Gorge, however, as the water conditions can be quite unpredictable and the area is unsupervised. There are signs around that warn of crocodiles, and while there are not really reports of crocodile activity, it’s generally wise to not dive in every body of water you see in Cairns.
Rusty’s Market is one of Australia’s most iconic markets, bringing fresh tropical fruit to the masses and incredible trinkets and one-of-a-kind goods that can only be created in rainforests. Rusty’s Market is located near many cafes, so you can head there before or after your breakfast and fill your hotel room or Airbnb with fresh, delicious produce. Keep in mind that like most farmer’s markets, Rusty’s is open only on weekends. The market also happens to be under cover so you can head there all year round, rain or shine.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
Imagine travelling 7.5km over a rainforest canopy. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway needs to be experienced to be believed, with each cable car fitted with a speaker and informative facts about the rainforest. There are three stations and the longest trip is in the middle, so you can enjoy the ride all the way or go on it twice and jump off at one of the stations to walk back. This is a great thing to do with a family or really anyone who wants to explore a Queensland rainforest from the best vantage point.
Make your way through these things to do on your next trip and enjoy all that Tropical North Queensland has to offer! You may also wish to plan your trip around the weather as the wet season can impact your itinerary and summer may be quite hot for cooler climate natives.