Things to do in Cairns - An Ideal Base for Exploring North Queensland

30 October 2012

If you love the outdoors, nature and sunshine, the attractions near Cairns will be right up your street. Whilst Cairns itself is an avergae Australian town in North Queensland, it is an ideal gateway to a whole realm of areas of natural beauty. This article explores the top 5 things to do in the areas surrounding Cairns. However as you will see from the content, each of our 5 suggestions actually includes a vast range of options so each could easily take a few days if you wanted it to.

The Great Barrier Reef

The World famous Great Barrier Reef is blessed with breathtaking beauty spanning over 340,000 square kilometers. Cairns provides an ideal base for exploring the reef which you can do by boat and snorkel or dive the reef. Alternatively you could take a yachting or sailing tour for a few nights to explore the Reef in more depth.

The Great Barrier Reef comprises over 2900 coral reefs and 900 islands. You could take an Island tour by Ferry, Semi-submersible Submarine or Glass Bottom boat. The Island reosrts of Green Island, Dunk Island, Bedarra Island and the remote Lizard Island offer stuninng settings for relaxation and seclusion.

Nearby Port Douglas is also an ideal embark on your Great Barrier Reef Trip. Port Douglas is a small and quaint seaside town with a scattering of shops.

Cape Tribulation & Daintree Rainforest

Cape Tribulation lies at the heart of the Daintree Rainforest approximately 110 km north of Cairns. The area is the only place in the world where two World Heritage sites meet as the Daintree Rainforest lies adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

You can explore the Rainforest on foot by 4WD or on horseback, cruise the rivers looking for crocodiles and other wildlife, taste the rare and exotic fruit at the Cape Tribulation Exotic Fruit Farm or relax on the deserted beaches.

The Atherton Tablelands

There is an entire holidays worth of stuff lying waiting for you in The Atherton Tablelands from stunning waterfalls, wildlife, wonderful rainforest backdrops and natural wonders such as Curtain Fig Tree, Lake Tinaroo, Broomfield Swamp, Paronella Park and Undara Lava Tubes.

Within the Atherton Tablelands lies Kuranda, a picturesque mountain retreat just 25km northwest of Cairns, surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest. The area offers plenty to see and do; take a riverboat on the mighty Baron River, take in the breath-taking Barron Falls, check out the wildlife (Koalas, Kangaroos, reptiles and more), join an Army Duck ride through the rainforest, watch aboriginal dancers or browse the shops and markets in Kuranda Village. You can travel to the Kuranda area by Scenic Railway from Cairns or take in the beauty from above with the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway which runs from Smithfield to Kuranda. You can also book coach tours from Cairns.

Further south, The Atherton Tablelands includes areas such as Mareeba, Yungaburra, Atherton, Herberton, Malanda and Irvinebank.

Palm Cove

Palm Cove claims to be home to Australia's cleanest beach which is the premier beach to relax on in the Cairns area. Located 27km north of the city, there is a regular bus service to the peaceful village of Palm Cove. Palm cove offers world class resort hotels, restaurants and spas not to mention a host of Great Barrier Reef Trips, Rainforest Excursions, adventures for thrill-seekers, golf courses, water sports and fishing.

Wooroonooran National Park

South of Cairns lies the wonderfully named Wooroonooran National Park. The park spans a large area and offers an abundance of things to see and do. Just 26km south of Cairns you can find Walshs Pyramids, a challenging hiking trail. 46km south of Cairns, Goldsborough Valley offers canoeing, mountain biking, walking and camping. 75km south of Cairns you will find the cascading waterfalls of Josephine Falls and the start of the trail up to Bartle Frere, Queensland's highest mountain. The area of Palmerston (Doongan) is well known for its pretty rainforest, wild rivers, steep gorges and waterfalls plus the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway.