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.

Brazzie

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

Fantastic! Adam our tour guide was very informative and safely drove us through some pretty winding roads. Because we were ahead of schedule, he stopped and added a rain forest walk. Because it was a rainy day, we didn't see any wildlife, but the walk was still beautiful. The visit at Wildlife Habitat was great! I got to hold a koala and also feed the wandering kangaroos - little beggars they are. Very happy campers and friendly! But the best part was the Zip Line Adventure - wow! The guys, Lee, Cam, Bill, Brent and James were so much fun! With their wit and encouragement, they got everyone to turn upside down and let go while in the tree tops! Exhilirating! We got to experience a true downpour in a rainforest. Luckily it was warm as we got soaked - but we didn't care! It was thrilling! After all the thrills, we took a nice cruise on the Daintree River - just beautiful. Because it was a cooler rainy day, we only saw one crocodile. But it was still worth it. This is a must do adventure!

Doing what: Daintree Rainforest Zipline and Wildlife Habitat Day Trip

Adam S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

absolutely incredible and worth the price. food on the cruise is just for you and your group who came in on the heli. the skydive is an unforgettable experience. you best be seeing the reefs before they are gone. :

Doing what: Cairns Sky Dive, Great Barrier Reef Helicopter Tour and Cruise

Vivek K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

Best package and it covered the best parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

Doing what: Ultimate 3-Day Great Barrier Reef Cruise Pass

Rebecca M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

The ziplining is amazing and lunch is delicious. Wildlife habitat is wonderful and able to hold koala is great experience for my kids. We did not see many crocodiles in the cruise and a bit disappointed, but it is still a nice cruise.

Doing what: Daintree Rainforest Zipline and Wildlife Habitat Day Trip

Diane P

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

Great island, really nice people working on the island

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Diane P

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

Fantastic crew on the cruise and Dundees restaurant was perfect

Doing what: Cairns Sunset Cruise and Optional Dinner

Debbie S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

What a great way to experience the rain forest. 3 trips in one. We saw very large crocodiles and a very rare tree kangaroo. The tour guide was very friendly and informative, and the staff at each location was very friendly.

Doing what: Daintree Rainforest Zipline and Wildlife Habitat Day Trip

Terry C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2016

Perfect. Staff were great. Vessel was lovely. Food was amazing. Snorkelling and scuba diving was amazing. A very well organised event.

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

Mrs N M S

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2016

Very pleasant and interesting attraction for all ages.

Doing what: Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Sigrid S

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2016

Unfortunately whether let us down and visibility was terrible for snorkelling and glass bottom boat tour :( Rental equipment was also not the best, but the crew was awesome and island itself lovely. Recommend bringing comfy shoes for longer hiking trips if interested!

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Melanie P

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2016

The experience was amazing, just wish it was for a little longer, could walk a bit further around and some photos whilst walking would have been good too. The operators worked like clockwork, very well organised and professional. Only down side is the price of the photos on a USB stick - ridiculously expensive!!

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

David C

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2016

Even though it was overcast and a bit chilly. What an amazing Island. Highly recommended

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Kenneth K United Kingdom

3 star rating: Worth doing
June 2016

Enjoyed the cruise, although if you have done the harbor cruise previously then I would not recommend this as there is not a lot to see and what there is you have already seen it

Doing what: Cairns Sunset Cruise and Optional Dinner

Kenneth K United Kingdom

3 star rating: Worth doing
June 2016

A nice way to pass a couple of hours, not a lot to see but it is nice a relaxing

Doing what: Cairns Harbor Cruise with Optional Lunch

Anita E

3 star rating: Worth doing
June 2016

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed about the zipline. It wasn and #39;t that fun. The team was great and funny but the zipline was really slow and the distance short. You were more busy with waiting at each station. But as I mentioned, the team was great - so you can have a nice talk.

Doing what: Daintree Rainforest Zipline and Wildlife Habitat Day Trip

Tracey D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

This was the most awesome experience ever, it beats swimming with the dolphins. And being a Jon-swimmer, perfect for me. The guides were really good and we were that close to the fish, we could touch them.

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

Ivo F

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Fitzroy Island is amazing! It was really nice to spend a day walking around, enjoying the water, enjoying the beautiful scenery and taking a glass bottom boat tour so I could take some pictures of the reef, too.
Nudy beach is beautiful, but difficult to walk on if you have no shoes, because of the coral. The secret garden hike is nice and quiet, and gets you away from the crowd so you can relax at the end point with just the sound of the birds, the waterfall and the wind through the trees.
Near the beach though, you can relax with a cocktail or go for a swim.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Gillian C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Unfortunately, the day we went it was cloudy, so there wasn't much of a sunset. But our captain gave a very good commentary. We purchased the dinner option, which I highly recommend because Dundee's is really good!

Doing what: Cairns Sunset Cruise and Optional Dinner

Gillian C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Recommend this trip! Paul was a great guide. Very knowledgeable and friendly. He remembered everyone's name throughout the whole trip. Small sized tour which was helpful for the wildlife sightings. Was able to see a lot of wallabies and possums but also a tree kangaroo family, a gecko, and even a platypus. Tea/snacks were nice and the dinner was great. Just a heads up for those that may suffer from motion sickness the road up to the tablelands consists of many curves.

Doing what: Atherton Tablelands Rainforest Wildlife Tour by Night

Natalie F

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Excellent meal and cruise, great value for money....

Doing what: Cairns Harbor Cruise with Optional Lunch

Devon L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Excellent! Great crew.

Doing what: Hot Air Ballooning Tour from Cairns

Gisele H

4 star rating: Recommended
May 2016

The cruise is pleasant and smooth. The crew is absolutely gentle and the landscapes are beautiful, it was definitely a good sunset enjoying some snacks, good drinks and stunning view.
I do not recommend the dinner, the food is really good, but the options are pretty limited and you feel a bit bad watching the others eating different options - not included into your package - I would recommend you to book your dinner independently to the cruise.

Doing what: Cairns Sunset Cruise and Optional Dinner

alwynb

4 star rating: Recommended
May 2016

Enjoyed the daytrip to Fitzroy Island very much - fabulous place and well worth a visit. Only down side was the disgusting toilet facilities by the bar. New cisterns and toilet seats wouldn't cost a lot and would make a huge difference

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Gillian C

4 star rating: Recommended
May 2016

We had a great time on these tours.
Day one was on the water. The boat was large and clean, and the staff kept everything organized. Both places we anchored were beautiful and lots of sea life to see. Just FYI, when you purchase this tour it is for snorkeling only. We were certified divers, so we had to purchase that on the boat. It is 65 for the first dive, and 20 for additional dives. You can do 3 dives total. And if you want to go with a guide, then it's 10 per person, per dive. Other charges are addressed in the description of the tour. There are two photographers on board, so there's the opportunity to buy those if you had pics taken when you came on board or when you were in the water.
The railway and skyrail to Kuranda is definitely something to do. You will be assigned a seat on the train, and if you can, I suggest that you get a seat towards the back of the train. We were in the first car, and the train didn't start to slow down until we were at the scenic points waterfall so those at the back of the train had more time to capture their pictures than we did. Kuranda itself is a cute town with plenty of wildlife parks to visit and shops to take a look in.
The last day was quite busy with a lot of stops and people to pick up. We had a full bus most of the time most of the day is spent in the bus. It was a hot day, and it took a bit of time for the A/C to get us to a comfortable temperature. Wish we had more time at the zoo and in the rainforest, but we did have plenty of time at Cape Tribulation and the beach. Lunch was excellent, and our guide/driver, Daniel, was great and gave us a good commentary throughout the trip.

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

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