The capital of tropical North Queensland, Cairns is the magical place where the rainforest meets the reef. Set between the looming mountain ranges and the shimmering ocean, Cairns is a vibrant city with plenty on offer in a lush tropical environment.
The gateway to Queensland’s tropical north
Cairns offers so much: natural beauty, ancient rainforest, Aboriginal culture, unique reefs of global importance, as well as more urban pleasures like foodie hot spots and great shopping.
Here are just a few of our highlights.
Kuranda Scenic Railway
Catch the Kuranda Scenic Railway for a trip through amazing scenery, passing through dense rainforest dominated by craggy mountains with cascading waterfalls and deep gorges like the sensational Barron Falls.
The rainforest here, recognised by UNESCO and awarded World Heritage status, is among the oldest in the world. And remarkably, the trains have been chugging along this 34 km track since the pioneer days of 1891.
The ride goes from Cairns to Kuranda, the so-called ‘village in the forest’. Here you’ll get discounted entry into Birdworld, Koala Gardens and The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and Rainforestation, so it’s a great day out.
You can even opt to take the Skyrail – a cable car through (and over!) the rainforest.
The Great Barrier Reef
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is a 1,400 mile long haven for some of the world’s most exciting, and colourful, species.
Cairns is one of the best places for visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Take a flight and you’ll enjoy amazing views of Green Island and Arlington Reef; take a boat and you’ll be able to scuba dive and snorkel amidst some of the world’s finest underwater scenery.
Take a day trip to Frankland Islands, a cluster of small, unspoilt islands with National Park status. Explore above and below water, swimming along the reef and spotting turtles, octopus and clownfish. There’s a glass bottomed boat for amazing views of the reef below and guided snorkelling, with equipment provided, is included, as well as buffet lunch.
A popular choice is the rainforests of Cape Tribulation and Daintree. It’s a stunning place to explore the unique natural beauty spots of the oldest rainforest in the world.
The lush forests are home to tree climbing kangaroos, rainforest ‘dragons’ and salt water crocodiles, not to mention rare species of frog and ancient plants found nowhere else on earth.
Take a boat trip along the Daintree River, or a 4WD excursion to get up close and personal with the rainforest and its inhabitants.