Cairns Sights & Attractions

Cairns offers newlyweds a wide range of attractions in town and many more that are just a short drive or boat ride away, including the following…

Reef Teach Cairns

If you are planning to dive or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, this is definitely the best way to be sure you get the most out of your experience.

Learn more about the Great Barrier Reef from qualified marine biologists and conservationists who present informative and entertaining lectures on the reef's evolution as well as about the various inhabitants of this delicate marine ecosystem.

More about Reef Teach, Cairns

Cairns Wildlife Dome

Get up close with koalas, lizards, frogs, pademelons, turtles and snakes as birds soar overhead.

See a large saltwater crocodile named Goliath (and some 200 animals) all housed in a 20m-high glass dome set on the roof of the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino.

Join free guided tours and wildlife presentations throughout the day.

More about Cairns Wildlife Dome

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

Discover the history and culture of the Aboriginal Tjapukai people at this showcase dedicated to the indigenous culture.

Allow two to three hours to view the whole spectacle that includes a dance performance and the opportunity to participate in interactive activities while learning about bush foods and medicines.

You can even try your hand at throwing a boomerang, traditional fire-making and didgeridoo playing. A nearby gallery offers authentic Aboriginal artworks, artefacts and didgeridoo instruments for sale.

More about Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the rainforest from a six-person cable car on a 7km-long journey above the rainforest canopy to the hilltop village of Kuranda.

Along the way, you can hop on and off at two stations (Red Peak and Barron Falls) and explore the rainforest on a short ranger-guided tour. The cableway base station is located 15km north of Cairns.

More about Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Kuranda Scenic Railway

An alternate to the Skyrail is the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which makes a pleasant one-hour and 55-minute journey through rain forest and 15 hand-hewn tunnels to and from Kuranda village.

A narrative on the railway's construction and Kuranda's WWII history are broadcast during the trip.

More about Kuranda Scenic Railway


Take the scenic railway, the Skyrail or drive up to this pretty hilltop village, known for its daily markets and as the gateway to the Atherton Tablelands.

Admire more than 1500 tropical butterflies at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, including the electric-blue Ulysses species and Australia's largest butterfly, the green-and-gold Cairns Birdwing.

At Birdworld, see the endangered cassowary and at the nearby Koala Gardens cuddle koalas and see wallabies, wombats, snakes and crocodiles in open walk-through enclosures.

More about Kuranda

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Discover one of Australia’s best croc shows that occupies a beautiful natural setting surrounding a 2-hectare lagoon (home to 23 estuarine crocs) and fringed by melaluca (Paperbark) and bloodwood trees.

Watch monster crocs being hand fed at 11am and see the ‘croc attack’ show and the ‘death roll’ during the 45-minute performance at 3pm.

There are also croc- and snake-handling opportunities as well as tours of the croc farm at 10am and 1:30pm. You can even feed a huge croc yourself using a long pole during the personalised Big Croc Experience.

More about Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Rainforest attractions include…

Barron Gorge

The Barron Gorge is best seen in the wet season when the river is a wild torrent plunging down the falls.

The gorge can be accessed from the Skyrail station and from the Barron Falls Road, just 2km from Kuranda – a short walking track descends to a choice of swimming spots along the railway and river from where you can hop on the Kuranda Riverboat for a 45-minute cruise.

Atherton Tablelands

Discover the cool, tropical Atherton Tablelands located on a rolling plateau around 700 metres above sea level and less than an hour’s drive from Cairns.

Hire a car and drive the Kuranda Range Road that ascends the coastal range from Cairns to the rainforest village of Kuranda.

Alternatively, try the twisty Gillies Highway from Gordonvale to Yungaburra – just perfect for adventurous drivers. Located just 35 kilometres south of Cairns, the highway ascends via 263 corners to 800m above sea level in only 19km.

Along the way, stop off at some of the lookouts to take in the spectacular view of the valleys set deep in the Great Dividing Range. Drive past coffee plantations, tropical fruit farms and several historic villages.

More about Atherton Tablelands

Tully Gorge

White-water raft the might Tully River or take in the majestic views of the gorge from several lookout points, including the Tully Falls lookout, 24km south of Ravenshoe. Access to the gorge is via Tully, a two hour drive (141km) south of Cairns.

Mossman Gorge, Daintree National Park

Discover one the most accessible and scenic regions of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area at the Mossman Gorge in Daintree National Park.

Stroll the 400m-long river circuit track to viewing platforms and a suspension bridge over the Mossman River or take the 2.7km rain-forest walking track.

Walk amidst strangler figs and epiphytic plants flourishing beside the crystal-clear waters of the Mossman River as it cascades over granite boulders in the Mossman Gorge. Cool off with a swim in the ice-cold water at one of the croc-free swimming holes.

Along the way look out for brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly and birds such as the eastern yellow robin, and try to spot tree and musky rat-kangaroos, Boyd's water dragons, scrub fowl and turtles.

More about Mossman Gorge

Undara Volcanic National Park

Take a guided tour through the fascinating lava tubes at Undara Volcanic Park.

The hollow basalt tunnels were created during a volcanic outpouring some 190,000 years ago. The lava tubes extend over an area of 150,000-hectares; some are 18m high and 800m long.

Undara is the Aboriginal word for ‘a long way,’ which is apt considering that one of the original lava tubes extends for 160km in total. Take a daytrip from Cairns or stay longer on a two-or three-night outback experience tour.

Read more Undara Volcanic National Park

Mareeba Tropical Savanna & Wetlands

Discover giant termite mounds scattered across savanna scrub and see hundreds of bird species, including Australia's only stork, the Jabiru, on this reclaimed wetland.

Take a nature-based excursion on and around the vast lagoons. Try the two and a half hour Sunset Reserve Safari, which combines a bird-watching cruise and a ranger-guided savanna drive on which you'll most likely spot wallabies and kangaroos. Paddle canoes or try fly-fishing for ancient species in the lagoons.

Come on a daytrip from Cairns or stay longer in eco-certified luxury safari-tent accommodation.

Mareeba Tropical Savanna & Wetlands is located 65km west of Cairns, just past the town of Mareeba.

Read more Mareeba Tropical Savanna

Babinda Boulders

Swim in a sacred Aboriginal site at the Babinda Boulders swimming hole.

The site is easily reached by driving from Cairns or by hiking the 19km-long Goldfield Track from the Goldsborough Valley, southwest of Cairns, to Babinda Boulders car park. The site is located 7km from Babinda, about 60km south of Cairns.

Wooroonooran National Park

Choose from several trails to explore at this World Heritage listed site, one of the most densely forested areas in Australia and home to more than 500 different tree species.

Follow 600m-long trails for an easy 30-minute walk to Tchupala Falls and to Josephine Falls (photo) or try the more challenging Bartle Frere trail, which takes two days.

Here you can hike through lowland tropical rainforest to the stunted growth on Mt. Bartle Frere, at 1,611m, the highest point in Queensland. Along the way, look out for platypus, turtles, and possums after dark at Henrietta Creek campground.

Don’t miss the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway, a 2.5km-long treetop walkway that includes a 37m-high tower with two viewing decks. The walkway sits around 15m above the ground and offers views of the North Johnstone river gorge and the mountain peaks of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area.

More about Wooroonooran National Park

Offshore attractions include…

Great Barrier Reef

Discover the world’s largest living structure and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Stretching more than 2000km in length and covering an area of more than 23 million hectares, the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef comprises more than 2100 individual reefs plus 500 islands with fringing reefs.

Explore a magical underwater world that is home to more than 400 varieties of coral and 1500 species of tropical fish and marine creatures – the perfect location for scuba diving and snorkelling.

If you would prefer not to get wet, stay dry and enjoy the reef views from an underwater viewing chamber, glass bottom boat or semi-submersible.

The reef is easily accessible via fast, ultramodern catamarans, boats, seaplanes and helicopters, which all depart daily from the Cairns marina.

More about Great Barrier Reef

Green Island

Cruise over to Green Island on a day trip from Cairns and enjoy snorkelling, diving, windsurfing, sea-kayaking, glass-bottom-boat rides, parasailing as well as rainforest walks.

Explore the 10ha island by foot on a 2km-long trail that circles the island or head inland to experience the spectacular rainforest.

Try to spot some of the 60 species of birds that live here, including egrets, ospreys, sea eagles and woodswallows, and some of the more than 130 species of plant and tree.

Or just relax at one of Green Island Resort's swimming pools. Green Island is just 27km east of Cairns. More about Green Island

Fitzroy Island

Take a day trip from Cairns and enjoy snorkelling, diving, sea-kayaking, glass-bottom-boat rides as well as rainforest walks and hikes to the lighthouse at the top of the hill.

With a 339ha national park, a picturesque rocky foreshore indented with white-sand beaches and coral reefs almost completely surrounded the island, Fitzroy offers a perfect playground for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and bushwalking.

Fitzroy Island is just 45 minutes from Cairns. More about Fitzroy Island

More about Cairns…

Latest update: Must-see Cairns attractions: 12 May, 2022