Great Barrier Reef

If you only do one thing during your time in Cairns, visit the Great Barrier Reef. This world heritage-listed marine park’s stats are staggering: it is the largest coral reef system in the world, is bigger than Victoria and Tasmania combined and can be seen from space. Join a cruise out to the reef and experience this natural wonder up close. Colourful coral gardens, kaleidoscopic fish, giant gropers, sea turtles and dolphins are just some of the marine life you will enjoy, either during a snorkelling adventure, in a glass-bottom boat or from an underwater viewing platform. The reef comprises more than 900 islands spanning 2600 kilometres. You’ll only scrape the surface in a day, but the experience will guarantee you will be back.

Great Barrier Reef

Fitzroy Island

If you’re seeking a tropical island adventure minus the crowds, Fitzroy Island is an ideal daytrip, just 15 nautical miles from Cairns. The island is a declared national park located on the fringe of the Great Barrier Reef. Think powder-white beaches, turquoise lagoons, riotously coloured coral reefs and towering rainforest. Snorkel or dive on the reefs, go sea kayaking, hike to the Summit, visit the turtle rehabilitation centre, or stretch out on the delightful sands at iconic Nudey Beach. You’re sure to find a secluded spot to lay your towel on this quiet island paradise.

Fitzroy Beach

Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Railway

Soar above the treetops of North Queensland’s world heritage-listed tropical rainforests on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The 7.5 kilometre journey provides a bird’s-eye view of the forest canopy, with the chance to stop off mid-way at Barron Falls where you can marvel at the torrent of water thundering down the gorge. Disembark in the quaint mountain village of Kuranda, where you can grab lunch and peruse the crafts and souvenirs, before taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway back down the mountain. The historic century-old railway cuts through rugged mountainside, over deep ravines and alongside raging waterfalls, providing an up-close inspection of the rainforest.

Kuranda Rail

Cape Tribulation and the Daintree

Journey to the end of the road in far North Queensland. Well, the end of the sealed road anyway. Cape Tribulation, about 90 minutes’ drive north of Port Douglas, is where rainforest meets reef and the gravel coastal road to Cape York begins. Here, you can literally stand on the cusp of two spectacular world heritage sites – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Just be careful: the waters are crocodile infested. The journey to the Daintree involves a unique cable ferry crossing; you can tackle the drive yourself or join an organised day tour. Go bushwalking, join a four-wheel-drive safari, kayak, take a river cruise or zipline through the rainforest canopy.

Cape Tribulation

Port Douglas Market

Sunday is market day in Port Douglas. The ANZAC Park waterfront heaves with visitors and stallholders selling everything from handcrafted jewellery, funky clothing and pottery to homemade treats and fresh coconuts punctured with drinking straws. The morning market is a scenic one-hour drive from Cairns and is great for picking up souvenirs and people watching, while enjoying the views over the Coral Sea.

 

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