Cairns is home to some of the world's most stunning tropical tourist attractions, both above and below the water. You'll find amazing coral reefs, pristine rainforests, tropical beaches, and cute little beachside towns.
Cairns is also a great place to explore the Great Barrier Reef. You can snorkel, dive, and explore the different islands surrounding it.
1. Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest is one of the world’s most spectacular pockets of natural green tropical jungle. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1988, it’s a must-visit for anyone exploring Cairns.
The rainforest covers an area of about 1,200 square kilometres, and is home to a large number of unique wildlife species that can only be found here. This includes kangaroos, crocodiles, marsupials, monotremes and many more.
There are a variety of activities that can be done in the Daintree Rainforest, including walks, camping and accommodation. Visiting the rainforest is a great way to relax and get in touch with nature, but if you want to fully experience this amazing area, it’s recommended to stay a few nights.
A picture perfect rainforest village, Kuranda is a favourite retreat for tropical North Queenslanders. Located 25km from Cairns, the picturesque mountain retreat has a cool, off-the-beaten-track vibe and is full of surprises around every corner.
There’s something for everyone to enjoy in this rainforest paradise, from wildlife sanctuaries and walking tracks to markets and eclectic street art. It’s no wonder Kuranda is one of the best day trips from Cairns!
Get the most out of your day trip to Kuranda by opting for a tour that includes the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Then, hang out with koalas, experience Aboriginal culture or shop for mementos at the famed Kuranda Market.
3. Green Island
Green Island is a 6000 year old rainforest-covered coral cay that’s just 45 minutes from Cairns by fast catamarans. Located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, this tropical National Park island paradise is overrun with exotic marine life and colourful birdlife.
You can easily spend a few hours unwinding here, whether that’s lounging on the beach, swimming or snorkelling among the vibrant coral and unique fish. Or if you’d prefer to get up close and personal, take a dive or go on a glass-bottom boat tour.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, you can also visit the wildlife zoo on Green Island where you can meet Cassius, one of Australia’s largest crocodiles in captivity. Or shop at the resort shops to pick up some local hand-made Green Island jewellery.
4. Cairns Esplanade
Cairns Esplanade is the heart of the city’s foreshore with a lagoon, boardwalk and fun picnic area. You can also find public art, weekly markets and live entertainment.
The highlight of the Esplanade is its spectacular 4800 square metre saltwater swimming lagoon which is free for everyone to enjoy. Lifeguard patrolled and illuminated nightly, the lagoon is a popular spot for sunseekers and families to relax.
It’s also home to the best picnic area in town and a great place for birdwatching. You can also take a walk along the harbour walk which offers scenic views of Trinity Inlet and the marina.
The Esplanade also boasts a range of activities like rock climbing, aqua Zumba, yoga sessions, skating and BBQ. Tourists can wander the parklands at any time and enjoy a relaxing break from their busy day in Cairns.
5. Night Markets
A great way to end your day in Cairns is a stroll along the Esplanade and then a hunt for bargains at the night markets. Here, you can pick up souvenirs, clothes, arts, crafts, jewellery, and even a massage!
- In addition to shopping, there are also a variety of food stalls. These stalls sell delicious street foods, including Asian and Australian cuisine.
- The market is a popular evening activity for both locals and tourists, with a wide range of goods and services. It is a great place to buy local travel souvenirs and grab dinner before heading back to your accommodation in the evening.