Top 10 things to do in Cairns

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Being the other half of a pilot has us moving around Australia quite a bit – our latest destination is in the incredible Tropical North Queensland in Palm Cove – about 20 minutes from Cairns. With lots of visitors over the last 12 months (and plenty more to come) I thought I’d share my top 10 things to do when visiting. 

1. View the magnificent Great Barrier Reef – You have never seen anything more spectacular than a birds-eye view of this natural phenomenon. Whilst you can scuba, snorkel and dive seeing it from the air is absolutely breath taking. You can go via plane with GSL Aviation or by chopper with GBR Helicopters. Both are beautiful and you can tie in a boat trip out with a half day snorkel – so ask for some options. 

2. Do the waterfall loop – as well as the reef, Cairns is on the doorstep of the rainforest. I’d suggest hiring a car and doing the loop around the Atherton Tablelands (this is better than the Daintree if you ask me!). A solid day would include stops at Lake Eacham, Millaa Millaa falls, lunch at the Mungalli Creek Dairy, then stop at Josephine Falls and if you have time the Babinda Boulders on your way back to Cairns. These are all picturesque swimming spots so pack your bathers.

3. A few nights in Port Douglas – just over an hours drive from Cairns is the cosmopolitan Port Douglas, reminiscent of Noosa there are lots of gorgeous shops, restaurants, the beach and the port. The Sunday markets are really high quality with lots to look at and buy. Port might be a better spot to place yourself if your interested in snorkelling the reef as access to the outer reef is much better from Port than Cairns.

4. Wild White Water Rafting – one of the best things we’ve done in Cairns. Go with Raging Thunder and make sure you do the Tully River (XTreme Tour) not the Barron. A day full of adventure and fun, it is exhilarating and relaxing as you go through the rapids of the Atherton tablelands, lots of waterfall

5. Jungle Surfing the Daintree Rainforest – in the world heritage listed rainforest make your way to Cape Tribulation where you can do swing from canopy’s in the rainforest with Jungle Surfing. Learn about the animals and plants whilst you swing upside down and revel in the abundance of nature that surrounds you. Heaps of fun!

6. Drop into Palm Cove – just 20 mins from Cairns (and my back doorstep) this is definitely the hidden gem of Cairns. With a busy little main street directly on the beach there are loads of cafes and restaurants as well as Palm Trees for miles. Once you’re there you can kayak out to Double Island or just chill on the beach and have a coffee (or cocktail) and Chill Cafe or Vivos (our favorites!)

7. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef – On the list for everyone and the best place to go out to the reef is from Port Douglas. Tie it in with a chopper flight or book with Quicksilver . The colours and clarity of the water is phenomenal, and if you don’t like swimming there are submarines that will take you down and you can view the reef and stay dry. 

8. Discover Fitzroy Island – only a 40 minute ferry from Cairns and find yourself on an island in the middle of the reef. You can stay the night or just go for a day trip. Hire snorkels, paddle boards or walk up to the top of the island to the lighthouse. Plenty to keep you busy or track around to Nudie Beach on the other side of the island for a quieter day in the sun. A must-do and much better than Green Island 

9. Witness the magnificent Barron Falls – move over Niagara Falls this is a sight to see! Only worth seeing during or just after the Wet Season after Cairns has had a heap of rain. To get there you can catch the skyrail or drive. The skyrail is slow and relaxed and takes you to Kuranda for the day, then back on the train – good if you don’t like walking to far. Otherwise take car and walk in.  

10. Chill Out in Mossman Gorge – just 10 mins from Port Douglas this waterhole is serene and the perfect place to cool off on a hot day. Not a big walk with a bus in and out of the gorge. Highly recommended if you’re staying in Port Douglas for a few days

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