Insider's Guide to Cairns & the Tropical North

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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Cairns -  think islands, beaches, wildlife, rainforests and that reef - is an essential stop on any trans-Australian itinerary. Here's how to cover the best of it in just three days. Day 1: Cuddle Koalas, Walk Through Fire Kick off ... 

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Certified reviews by travelers like you.

brucelo1

3 star rating: Worth doing
May 2016

Great ambiance, but would've liked to hear more stories

Doing what: Cairns Flames of the Forest Dining Experience

brucelo1

3 star rating: Worth doing
May 2016

Would've liked to see more of the rain forest.

Doing what: Atherton Tablelands Rainforest Wildlife Tour by Night

barbara j

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

They were so professional and attention to safety and knowledge of the area was amazing.
Would highly recommend this

Doing what: Daintree Rainforest Zipline and Wildlife Habitat Day Trip

Jo G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

Wonderful!!! Great staff on the boat, wonderful island and great snorkelling!

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Julia D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

This was excellent...we had heaps of fun and the guy driving the boat was fantastic.

Doing what: Cairns Jet Boat Ride

Michelle B

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

A great start to a night out in Cairns. Head to the front deck of the boat to enjoy the views along the inlet.

Doing what: Cairns Sunset Cruise and Optional Dinner

amcewen

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

Great night out for a great price. Complimentary drink on arrival with nibbles was the perfect start to a beautiful night. Highly recommend doing this sunset cruise.

Doing what: Cairns Sunset Cruise and Optional Dinner

Mary E K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

We LOVED IT!!!!! The staff was excellant!!! They tried to get us up before the sunrise but they felt it was too windy, so we watched the other ones leave. Thats ok. I would rather stay up then come down early. We got up after the sunrise. It was still pretty. I recommend this immensely!!! And this company!!!! Its a great adventure!!!!

Doing what: Hot Air Ballooning Tour from Cairns

Mary E K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

A very surprising trip!! Was short but worth the money!! Can't tell you, to ruin the surprise. Not for the fine, precise people. Have to be a adventous person to do this!!! We had a blast!!! We loved feeding the wallybys too! So much fun. Thank you. Kinner USA

Doing what: Kuranda Rainforest Night Adventure Tour by Hummer

Nanette S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2016

I can only tell you I was awestruck by this night! I thought that getting on a bus with 40 people was going to be average to bummed. As my husband and I arrived we were seated at a private table, quiet live guitar music played, it was magical. Guys this is the place to take that special girl.

Doing what: Cairns Flames of the Forest Dining Experience

Anamika D

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

Had a bumpy ride but crew was amazingly friendly.
Provided excellent lunch box, requested vegetarian option and they delivered good quality food and very helpful guys. Keep it up!

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Jessica S

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

I enjoyed Fitzroy island more than Green Island because of the variety of things to do. Paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, jumping on the water trampoline and exploring the island. Definitely worth going.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Brenda G

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

This was worth the money. The boat was 3 months old and one of the best in the harbor. The staff was very upbeat and accommodating during the day. The lunch and snacks were very good. The equipment on the boat was in good condition.

Doing what: Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip

Lori A. L

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

The first day was fabulous-loved snorkeling/scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. The day @ Kuranda was very special as we got to hold a koala and interact with kangaroos and wallabys; Caoe Tribulation was beautiful but our tour guide Russell was a bit punitive and not that informative about the area

Doing what: Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip

Susan F

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

Loved the Barrier Reef Cruise and the Kuranda Scenic Railway - found the Cape Tribulation Day a bit of a disappointment in comparison. Far too much time on the bus and a long drive just for lunch.

Doing what: Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip

Jeannie L

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

Great Barrier Reef cruise, they took us to 2 sites and was very nice snorkeling. But you have to pay 10.00 for stinger suit and you have to wait for your group to go in. They have ginger pills on board in case of rough sea. Lunch was good but long line up. Scenic Rail very nice, worth every penny. Go visit the market, they have nice things. Only complain is the pickup from the cable car station back to our hotel was very confusing and unorganized. Cape Tribulation had a lot of driving. They should have different bus for people who want to stay up there. I seems the reason we went there was to drop them off and had lunch there. The lunch was nice and the beach was pretty. The wildlife park has a lot to see. River cruise was the best. We saw baby crocodiles too.

Doing what: Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip

Brenda G

3 star rating: Worth doing
April 2016

The train and the skyrail would get a 3 in my book. The train is slow, a bit boring and the time at the village was way too long. I really do not enjoy going in and out of small shops and the wilderness day was booked for our 3rd day - so, I wasn't going to do it again. The Skyrail was great. I would go up and down that way. TIP - you don't need to follow the times on the skyrail so if you get bored - simply head down the mountain. The bus at the end will also take you right to your hotel. I didn't need to wait for the time....wish I knew that earlier.

Doing what: Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip

lindamitchell

3 star rating: Worth doing
April 2016

I would only do Great Barrier Reef and Kuranda. The Cape Trib trip is really just a very very long drive with very little reward. Find a tour or hire a car and drive out to Mosman Gorge - we had very little time there. The Kuranda trip allows too long at Kuranda - we came down early having arranged an earlier coach back to Cairns. It is a lovely trip up and down. The Reef tour was brilliant.

Doing what: Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip

Rapha

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
April 2016

I was disappointed that on the day we did the tour we were told we could not do the dive because one of us has very mild asthma. It should have been noted in the advertisement of the tour to avoid disappointment. The island itself is still worth visiting for snorkelling.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns Including Seawalker Helmet Dive

mkkolberg

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2016

Raging Thunder provided a fantastic day for us! The crew was fantastic super energetic and down-to-earth guys that were very friendly. The boat itself was roomy and comfortable for the trip to/from the island. On the island, I'd recommend wearing water shoes as the beach is all old coral and isn't comfortable to walk on. It was a nice relaxing island that wasn't busy at all, which was great! Underwater coral wasn't as bright and colorful as expected but we saw a good variety of fish, starfish, squid, rays, etc. while snorkeling and got views of brighter coral and turtles on the glass-bottom boat tour. The picnic lunch was more than expected but is just a couple of sandwiches, apple, and a granola bar so bring your own food if you aren't interested in that. The bar on the island has delicious drinks and mocktails, however, to suit your fancy when you need a break from the sun! Great value trip and we had a wonderful day with this tour!

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Sachie M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2016

I prefer this island to Green Isl.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Dodi Violy A

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2016

a beautiful experience

Doing what: Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Lin

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2016

Was great! Really need to spend more then a day there if want to do everything available, walks, snorkeling, paddle board, kayaking. Crew was nice a friendly. Still a good day even in the rain.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

tom j

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2016

the zip line was amazing- the team in the jungle was outstanding!!! we had a blast!

Doing what: Daintree Rainforest Zipline and Wildlife Habitat Day Trip

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