After coming home from an overseas trip to the U.S.A. in August, I was itching to go somewhere, anywhere to continue exploring and fuel my wanderlust. So when an awesome Groupon deal was announced to Cairns, how could I say no? Teamed with one of my previous travel buddies – Arielle, we spent 4 days in beautiful Northern Queensland to relax and explore as much as we can.
Cairns is a short 2 hour flight north from Brisbane, Queensland and our hotel the Doubletree by Hilton was less than 10 minutes away from the airport so getting to and from the airport was cheap and easy. We hadn’t planned much of our trip (which is quite unlike me) but winging it, relaxing and booking things as we heard about them worked out perfectly for us. So here’s 7 things you must do when you visit Cairns:-
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site and named one of the natural wonders of the world. This reef is impressive already! Once you see the reef you’ll understand why it is such an important tourist destination and incredible part of nature. With many companies offering snorkelling, diving, glass bottom boat and sailing tours, you are spoilt for choice with the many ways to see this spectacular reef with its fish, coral and other marine life.
Another way to see the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef is to visit some of the islands amongst it. Green Island is a short 45 minute catamaran ride away from Cairns (as opposed to 2 hours to the outer reef) and is the only coral cay to have a rainforest growing on it. There’s a range of activities to do on the island including snorkelling (which I did and was so much fun and beautiful) scuba diving, visiting Marineland Melanesia – which I will add had the biggest crocodiles I have ever seen – and a resort with pool and shops to relax as well.
Located along the Esplanade, the night markets are a fun place to head to eat some street food including crepes, Chinese, Japanese and plenty of seafood. The markets also feature loads of unique stall selling souvenirs, body soaps and lotions, clothing, glass figurines and on the spot massages. Open every night until late and with everything quite reasonably priced, the items sold at the markets make great gifts and souvenirs for home or yourself.
Hire a car (we used All Day Car Rentals and we were incredibly happy with the car, price and service!) and head further north to Mossman Gorge for a fun day exploring part of the Daintree Rainforest. There’s a courtesy shuttle bus that takes you to the Gorge from the visitors centre for only $8.50 for a round trip. There are plenty of walking trails for all fitness levels and a few spots to take a dip in the fresh water which is incredibly refreshing after exploring in the sun. You can also take a ‘Dreamtime Walk’ with a local indigenous guide to show you the culturally significant areas of the forest.
One of the most beautiful ways to see the Daintree Rainforest is to take a trip on the Kuranda Skyrail. From inside a cable car you’ll travel above and into the Daintree Rainforest for a different view than your usual walking trails. You can stop at certain spots and walk around and explore a little then hop back into your cable car and continue on. You can also combine this with other Kuranda activities, with the sky rail taking around 2 1/2 hours for a round trip.
Palm Cove is a beautiful little area that you definitely should visit whilst in Cairns. With a beautiful beach, local cafe’s and restaurants with delicious food, day spa’s and activities like white water rafting and hot air ballooning, Palm Cove is great for those looking for adventure or relaxation. The view isn’t bad either!
Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
The lagoon is a safe, salt-water swimming area located along The Esplanade. It is open year round for those wanting to take a dip and beat the heat without the risk of going into the creeks and ocean in unpatrolled areas (which is discouraged due to stingers/jellyfish, crocodiles and strong currents). The lagoon is free and there are shower and toilet facilities close by with many restaurants across the road for some lunch after your dip.
Cairns is a great location to visit for people wanting to really see some of the best that mother nature has to offer. With so many opportunities to get outside and see all the tourist attractions, Cairns is oddly relaxing yet with so much to offer. Summer can be incredibly humid with temperatures reaching well into the high 30’s celsius and humidity frequently at 100%, so for a comfortable stay perhaps look at visiting just before or after summer.
Global Whispers chose to stay at the Doubletree By Hilton on The Esplanade for 3 nights.
All posts are by Global Whispers and are entirely my own opinions, views and experiences.