Cairns Adventures: Air, Land and Sea

19 May 2017
Read Time: 6.2 mins

Don’t let the relaxed vibe of Cairns fool you. While locals and tourists alike wander around at country-town pace, wild adventure is never far away. The unofficial capital of Tropical North Queensland, Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, ancient rainforests, spectacular gorges and more. With so many breathtaking natural attractions on the doorstep, it’s no wonder Cairns is one of Australia’s best jumping-off points for fun.

Take to the Air

Couple tandem sky diving Thrilling, mesmerising and 100 per cent addictive, the best view of Cairns is from the air. Image: Getty

Get the adrenaline pumping and see Tropical North Queensland from 14,000 feet! The bird’s-eye views you’ll see of the Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage-listed rainforest or Trinity Inlet from a tandem sky dive will remain with you forever. Thrill seekers will not want to miss this one.

Hot air balloons rise over the Atherton Tablelands The Atherton Tablelands is one of Australia’s most weather-friendly flight locations for hot-air ballooning. Image: Getty

If you’ve never taken a flight in a hot-air balloon, this is the place to do it. Sure, you have to get up pretty early on balloon day but it’s worth it – you’ll be floating into the sky before dawn and watching the sun rise as you drift gently on the morning breeze. With the stunning scenery of Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands below, this is an adventure you’ll never forget.

View from the Cairns Skyrail over the rainforest canopy Make like a bird and glide just metres over the rainforest canopy. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

For a slightly less heart-pounding adventure, take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for a 90-minute journey over an endless canopy of pristine rainforest. From this vantage point you can also enjoy spectacular ocean and mountain views. The Skyrail takes you to the vibrant town of Kuranda, where you can have a delicious lunch before taking the famous Kuranda Scenic train back to Cairns.

Tropical Terrain

View of the Kuranda Scenic Railway as it travels through rainforest So close you can touch it – the Kuranda Scenic Railway takes you through the heart of ancient rainforest. Image: Getty

With good reason, one of the most popular adventures out of Cairns is the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Jump on board for a journey into the heart of World Heritage-listed rainforest, climbing from sea level to a height of 328 metres, passing spectacular waterfalls and heading into the stunning Barron Gorge. Listen to the untamed sounds of the dense rainforest as you travel through a landscape that is millions of years old.

Person riding a zipline over rainforest canopy To see the true beauty of the Daintree Rainforest, you have to get off the ground. Image: Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours

Let go of your fears and coast through the pristine Daintree Rainforest on a zip line, guided by Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours. You’ll be rewarded for your leap of faith with an experience of breathtaking beauty. Zip between six tree platforms in a fully guided adventure of pure exhilaration.

Waves wash over the beach near Cairns, Australia Don’t underestimate the thrill of jumping in the car and creating your own adventure. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland/Lauren Bath

If you fancy a mini road-trip, beach hop your way up the coast, stopping at Holloway’s Beach, Yorkey’s Knob, Trinity  Beach, Kewarra Beach and finally, postcard-perfect Palm Cove. You never know what’s around the next headland but chances are, in this part of the world, it’ll be another beautiful beach – with a fish and chip shop in the neighbourhood, too.

Dive Into the Blue

Woman holds snorkel gear in shallow water with helicopter and others behind her For something different, create your own kind of day trip. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

While the tour options from Cairns can be overwhelming, one alternative is to simply do your own thing. Whether it’s chartering a small plane or hiring a helicopter, the options increase when you’re free to call the shots. Follow your adventurous spirit and find your own private snorkelling or diving paradise!

Aerial view of Green Island, Tropical North Queensland Discover snorkelling heaven around Green Island. Image: Getty

Green Island is a pristine coral cay, roughly 6,000 years old, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and just 45 minutes by fast catamaran from Cairns. The cay is surrounded by underwater marine gardens that are teeming with life, making this one of the world’s most ideal destinations for scuba diving and snorkelling.

Man in a sea kayak paddles on water near Cairns No previous experience required! See the beautiful Fitzroy Island by sea kayak. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland/Matt Glastonbury

Take the short 45-minute ferry ride to Fitzroy Island and soak up the unspoilt wilderness of the Great Barrier Reef from the unique vantage point of a sea kayak. Go solo or join a friend in a double kayak as you explore the rugged coastlines and sandy beaches. 

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Cairns.

Erin Bennion

Based in Brisbane, Erin is a writer with a penchant for using fancy old French words wherever possible and an insatiable hankering for trawling through vintage markets in small Scandinavian towns (no really). One of her dreams is to take her family to see General Sherman in Sequoia National Park and give that old guy a group-hug. Don’t follow her, she could end up anywhere. Twitter @erinbennion