Cairns is a gorgeous city on the north-east coast of Australia. It is most famous for being the closest city to the Great Barrier Reef, but the reality is that Cairns is a beautiful and dynamic place that is full of hidden gems – not to mention, super fun activities. You can go to Cairns expecting to spend your time in the ocean, but you’ll end up venturing outside of the city for land-based activities, as well as exploring fun spots within the city.
We should discuss the Great Barrier Reef because the likelihood is that this gorgeous natural wonder is what brings you to Cairns. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and for good reason. The world’s largest natural coral reef system, it is home to unique flora and fauna and is one of Australia’s biggest tourism draws. Visitors flock to Cairns to explore the reef in many and varied ways and the choice will be yours, depending on your bravery level.
With that being said, here is our ultimate bucket list of activities for you BUCKiTDREAMERS to get the most out of your trip to Cairns.
Rally Around the Reef Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is a must, as you can get up close and personal with the local wildlife. As well as multicolored fish that swim solo or in giant schools, you can explore the beautiful and varied coral structures. Be careful and don’t touch anything, as the Reef is under threat from man-made pollution, as well as tourists breaking off pieces of coral to bring home. Coral is a living organism, and structures like the Great Barrier Reef take a millennial to grow. Humans are destroying the natural wonder at a rapid rate so be careful when you visit and don’t make things any worse!
You can also take cruises to explore the Reef in a glass bottomed boat which offers a whole new viewpoint on it. The fish and other marine life will be going about their day-to-day life without a diver down with them, so you’ll see a whole new side. It is also possible to go on an airplane ride that offers gorgeous views of the reef from above. Depending on the area you see, you may even capture a glimpse of the famous heart shaped part of the Reef!
Find Some Food Options If you’ve exhausted all options relating to the Great Barrier Reef, don’t worry! There are plenty of fun things to do in Cairns itself. The city is home to a growing and dynamic food scene, and like any proud Antipodean city, Cairns is also known for its vibrant coffee scene. Get a taste of indigenous Aboriginal food at Ochre, where you can chow down on wallaby, emu, and crocodile, as well as delicious fresh seafood from the local area. Ochre is pricey but is worth it for the authentic Australian food experience.
As well as local fare, Cairns is great for Asian food. Try the ramen at Ganbaranba, where they’ll let you get a top-up for $1.50 if you fancy more! There are also excellent Thai and Chinese restaurants in the city that are authentic, delicious and affordable.
If you’re a caffeine nut, there are plenty of cute cafes that will allow you to get your java fix. Industry One is a local roaster where you can buy delicious beans to take home, as well as sit down for a flat white or Americano. If you want a yummy lunch alongside your cup of Joe, Caffiend is your best bet. They even do drinks if you fancy an espresso martini instead of a traditional coffee!
Explore the Evening Venues In terms of nightlife, Cairns is really varied. Thanks to the mix of tourists and locals, you’ll always find a good night out in Cairns. If you’re more into sedate environments, you can’t beat The Pier. Enjoy a yummy wood-fired pizza on the deck overlooking the sea while sipping on a classic cocktail. If you’re looking for a crazy club night out, try local hostel Gilligan’s, which offers three floors of entertainment alongside lodgings for backpacking tourists.
Find a Few Fun Activities As well as activities within the city, Cairns also offers a range of thrill seeking trips. There are several companies offering skydiving, as well as hot air ballooning, white water rafting, and bungee jumping. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, you’ll definitely find it in Cairns. If you also like to combine nature with your thrill seeking activities, why not take a trip to Hartley’s, a nature reserve located between Cairns and Port Douglas. There, you can see crocodiles and dangerous cassowaries in their natural habitat, while taking a cruise around the water in the park.
Another option for nature lovers is to visit the Daintree Rainforest and River. Take a cruise and marvel at the natural beauty of the local wildlife. As well as crocs and cassowaries, you’ll see wallabies and a range of reptiles and amphibians living in the beautiful rainforest. It is also possible to go on tours that explore the natural waterfalls of the region and bring you to safe swimming spots away from any dangerous wildlife. Another good idea to go on the Skyrail, where you’ll get a gorgeous aerial view of the rainforest below.
Be Relaxed on a Beach You may be worn out after all of your adventurings, so head to the Whitsundays for a luxurious break on flawless beaches. Easily accessible by boat, air or road, the Whitsunday Islands are any traveler’s idea of paradise. White beaches on luxury resorts that cater to your every need mean that you’ll return home in a state of complete bliss, as well as full of adventurous stories from your other Cairns adventures.
Cairns is a gorgeous and varied city that has way more going for it than you may think. As well as the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll come home with pictures and videos of some of the most gorgeous landscapes seen anywhere in the world. Just don’t forget to upload to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, BUCKitDREAMer!