How to Spend 3 Days in Cairns & the Tropical North

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Cairns, with its islands, beaches, wildlife, rain forests, and that reef, is an essential stop on any Australian itinerary. Here's how to cover the best of it in just three days.

Day 1: Explore the Town and Walk Through Fire

Spend an afternoon getting to know the laid-back town of Cairns before an amazing evening dining experience in the world's oldest rain forest. You'll follow a flame-lit path into an enchanted forest to a secluded clearing where you'll be treated to a seven-course banquet and tales from the Aboriginal Dreamtime told by firelight.

Day 2: Ready, and – Action!
Saddle up for an action-packed day trip where you'll take the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns, go shopping in the Kuranda Markets, ride the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, soar over the Great Barrier Reef on a scenic helicopter tour, take a lunchtime cruise on the reef, then spend the afternoon swimming, snorkeling, or diving before cruising back to Cairns. Don't forget your camera.

Day 3: Up in the Air, Out on the Sea

It's your last day and you cannot miss out on one of the absolute must-do activities in this area—taking a hot-air balloon ride. You'll never forget the wonder of a sunrise in Tropical North Queensland. You'll float over the majestic Atherton Tablelands before drifting back down to earth for breakfast and champagne.

Spend your afternoon relaxing beach-side before setting sail on your last night on a divine dinner cruise aboard a luxurious catamaran. With a glass of champagne in hand, you can stroll the foredeck, savoring the sights of Cairns and the rain forest-clad mountains. As the sun sets, dinner is served—a four-course buffet, with live entertainment as the moon rises.
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Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Explore the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day tour to Fitzroy Island. After arriving from Cairns on a fast ferry, have free time to do what you choose: snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, lounge on the white-sand beach or see the coral from a glass-bottom boat. Upgrade to add the Activity Pass, which provides a picnic lunch, snorkeling gear, stinger suit, a glass-bottom boat tour, the use of stand-up paddle boards, paddle skis and a floating trampoline.
  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
$61.36 USD
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  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
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$61.36 USD

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

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest, experience the best of tropical north Queensland on this Cairns Super Saver that combines three bestselling tours at one discounted price. Over three days, enjoy a snorkeling and scuba diving cruise on the barrier reef; ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway to admire views of the lush rainforest environment; and take a day trip to Cape Tribulation to see koalas and kangaroos at Wildlife Habitat and enjoy a boat ride on the Daintree River.
  • Duration: 3 days
From
$311.17 USD
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  • Duration: 3 days
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$311.17 USD

Hot Air Ballooning Tour from Cairns

Get a bird’s-eye perspective of Tropical North Queensland on an unforgettable hot air balloon flight at sunrise. Soar over the Atherton Tablelands as golden sunlight breaks across beautiful farmlands, rivers and forests. Choose from a 30- or 60-minute flight and enjoy pickup and drop-off from your Cairns, Northern Beaches or Palm Cove hotel. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful way to start your day!
  • Duration: 4 hours
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$189.91 USD
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  • Duration: 4 hours
From
$189.91 USD

Daintree Rainforest Zipline and Wildlife Habitat Day Trip

See wildlife and go ziplining in UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest with an experienced guide. Travel from Cairns, Palm Cove or Port Douglas to Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat where you get to meet cassowaries and other native Australian animals. Then head into Daintree Rainforest and take a cruise along the Daintree River. Stop for a picnic lunch, then soar over the tree canopy during a zipline tour that offers aerial views of Daintree Rainforest, the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef. Includes lunch, transportation, and hotel pickup and drop-off.
  • Duration: 12 hours
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$186.26 USD
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  • Duration: 12 hours
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$186.26 USD

Cairns Shore Excursion: Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest Helicopter Tours

Make the most of your time in port and enjoy magnificent aerial views of Queensland’s star attraction. Set out from Cairns for a thrilling helicopter ride and glide over the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef, looking down over the vast coral reefs and spotting whales, dolphins and schools of tropical fish. Choose from a 30-minute flight to Green Island; a 40-minute deluxe flight over the outer reef; or a 60-minute Reef and Rainforest tour. Best of all: this tour is covered by Viator’s worry-free policy, guaranteeing on-time return to your ship.
  • Duration: 1 hour
From
$291.44 USD
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  • Duration: 1 hour
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$291.44 USD

Flames of the Forest Dining Experience

Experience an enchanting night at the Flames of the Forest dinner, held in the world's oldest rainforest. Dine by candlelight at an open-air site, feasting on a gourmet multi-course meal while enjoying live entertainment such as an Aboriginal cultural performance or live guitar music. Sip Australian wines and beer, and finish off with tantalizing desserts before your included transfer to your hotel in Cairns, the Northern Beaches or Port Douglas.
  • Duration: 5 hours
From
$140.24 USD
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  • Duration: 5 hours
From
$140.24 USD

Fitzroy Island Sea Kayaking

Explore beautiful Fitzroy Island by kayaking, snorkeling and other means during a full-day tour that includes both guided tours and free time to do as you please. Leave Cairns early to enjoy a morning kayak and snorkel tour around Fitzroy Island’s pristine coral reef. Have the afternoon at your leisure for more snorkeling and beach time, a walk in the rainforest or other island activities before returning to Cairns in the late afternoon.
  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
$108.84 USD
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  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
$108.84 USD

Kuranda Rainforest Night Adventure Tour by Hummer

Explore the Kuranda Rainforest at night on this 4-wheel-drive adventure from Cairns and the Northern Beaches. Experience outback traditions as you sip billy-tea by a campfire, and taste kangaroo and crocodile sausages before traversing World Heritage–listed landscapes in a sturdy 4WD Hummer. Cross the Atherton Tablelands to Granite Gorge, look for wild kangaroos and nocturnal birds, and gaze up at the stars, away from city lights. Tour is limited to 20 people.
  • Duration: 4 hours
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$121.25 USD
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  • Duration: 4 hours
From
$121.25 USD

Ultimate 3-Day Great Barrier Reef Cruise Pass

Explore the Great Barrier Reef exactly the way you want and save with this great-value, customizable 3-day pass. Choose three different full-day cruises to suit your style and preferences, from certified and introductory scuba dive trips to snorkeling and glass bottom-boat adventures. Get a new perspective on the world-famous reef on every cruise, with diverse destinations including Green Island, Agincourt Reef and Low Isles. Tours depart from Cairns or Port Douglas can be taken over a 7-day period to suit your sightseeing schedule. It’s a fantastic way to discover Australia’s spectacular underwater world!
  • Duration: 3 days
From
$373.62 USD
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  • Duration: 3 days
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$373.62 USD

Great Barrier Reef 30-Minute Scenic Helicopter Tour from Cairns

Enjoy unforgettable views of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as you fly over the UNESCO-listed natural wonder in a helicopter. Experience the magnitude of the vast reef as you float overhead on a 25-minute flight, spotting landmarks like Green Island and Upolo Cay and swooping low enough to see coral clusters and schools of tropical fish and rays. This tour includes pick-up from Cairns and Northern Beaches hotels.
  • Duration: 1 hour
From
$291.44 USD
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  • Duration: 1 hour
From
$291.44 USD

Cairns Jet Boat Ride

Get your adrenaline pumping on a Cairns jet boat ride. As you zoom across the waters of Trinity Inlet, hang on tight while the experienced boat captain performs spins and other maneuvers to make sure you stay cool in the splashing water. Admire landmarks from the boat, and keep your eyes open for marine life—you may get lucky and spot a crocodile. It’s a great way to spend 35 minutes in Queensland’s tropical heat.
  • Duration: 35 minutes
From
$50.40 USD
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  • Duration: 35 minutes
From
$50.40 USD

Atherton Tablelands Rain Forest by Night from Cairns

Venture into the rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands with an expert guide to observe Australian native animals in the wild. From Cairns, travel into the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics of Queensland to observe kangaroos, lizards and possums by daylight, then continue after sundown to look for nocturnal critters like the elusive platypus and Lumholtz tree kangaroo. Enjoy afternoon tea at Lake Barrine and dinner at a country restaurant. This small-group tour is limited to 11 people, which ensures a more personalized experience with your guide.
  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
$145.36 USD
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  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
$145.36 USD

Cairns Shore Excursion: Green Island by Helicopter and Cruise

When your cruise ship docks in Cairn, a visit to the Great Barrier Reef is a must-do. See more with this tour, which combines a scenic helicopter flight to Green Island, with a glass-bottom boat tour, snorkeling and swimming at the island — part of Australia’s spectacular Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy stunning aerial views from the helicopter, then relax on the lovely tropical island, with use of snorkeling gear, swimming pool and buffet lunch included. Return on a luxury catamaran to complete your 5-hour tour.
  • Duration: 5 hours
From
$364.49 USD
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  • Duration: 5 hours
From
$364.49 USD

Cairns Sunset Cruise and Optional Dinner

Spend an enchanted evening in Cairns with a 90-minute sunset cruise along the scenic Trinity Inlet. Sip a glass of sparkling wine and enjoy nibbles as city lights come on and the fading sun casts a colorful glow across the water, mangrove swamps and mountain ranges. Extend your night with an optional 3-course waterfront dinner at Dundee’s Restaurant — a local favorite where you can enjoy a bounty of fresh seafood, pasta, salads and grilled meats. 
  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
From
$35.06 USD
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  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
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$35.06 USD

Kuranda Rainforestation Nature Park

Explore Kuranda's Rainforestation Nature Park, a 100-acre (40-hectare) tropical rainforest and World Heritage site located within five minutes of Kuranda village, accessible from Cairns. Your admission ticket to this family-friendly attraction includes three eco-experiences: see Australia's native animals at the Koala and Wildlife Park; ride the amphibious Army Duck on a unique rainforest tour; watch an Aboriginal Dance Show at the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience and take a Dreamtime Walk.
  • Duration: 4 hours
From
$36.52 USD
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  • Duration: 4 hours
From
$36.52 USD

Cairns Harbor Cruise with Optional Lunch

Explore the winding waterways of Cairns on this relaxing 2-hour cruise. Glide along the Cairns waterfront and through Trinity Inlet for a unique perspective on the coastal city and surrounding tropical mangroves. You might even spot crocodiles lounging in the sun! Enjoy onboard commentary and afternoon tea, and upgrade to include a delicious 2-course meal at Dundee’s Restaurant — a local favorite right on the waterfront.
  • Duration: 2 hours
From
$35.06 USD
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  • Duration: 2 hours
From
$35.06 USD

Cairns Shore Excursion: Cairns Harbor Cruise

Hop aboard the Crocodile Explorer and enjoy a scenic 2-hour harbour cruise while in port in Cairns. Float past the mangrove forests and mudflats of Trinity Inlet, and spot saltwater crocodiles basking on the waterfront as you tuck into afternoon tea (included) on-board. This shore excursion is also covered by Viator’s worry-free policy, ensuring on-time return to your cruise ship.
  • Duration: 2 hours
From
$35.06 USD
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  • Duration: 2 hours
From
$35.06 USD

Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld Admission Tickets

Visit two of the most popular wildlife venues in the Cairns area with this combo admission to the Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld. Aussie animals are renowned for various reasons—from adorable (koalas) to elusive (wombats). You’ll have the chance to see an array of wildlife. Some activities are an additional fee.
  • Duration: 7 hours
From
$23.37 USD
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  • Duration: 7 hours
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$23.37 USD

Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome

Get an up-close look at the rainforest from the middle of Cairns at Carins ZOOM and Wildlife Dome. This family-friendly attraction is home to Australian animals like wallabies, koalas, tropical birds and a saltwater crocodile. You can simply explore the park at your leisure, or choose some of the many activities like a ropes course, zipline, dome climb and more. You also have the option to upgrade your admission to the 4 Park Pass if you want to visit other Cairns-area attractions like the Butterfly Sanctuary and Rainforestation.
  • Duration: 9 hours 15 minutes
From
$17.53 USD
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  • Duration: 9 hours 15 minutes
From
$17.53 USD

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Surround yourself by more than 1,500 multicolored butterflies at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda. The biggest butterfly aviary in the country, this delightful attraction is home to landscaped gardens that mimic the butterflies’ natural rainforest habitats. Explore at your leisure while they fly all around you, or take advantage of complimentary tours during the day, including a behind-the-scenes lab tour. When booking, you have the option to upgrade to the 4 Park Pass for entry to three more Cairns-area attractions.
  • Duration: 6 hours
From
$14.61 USD
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  • Duration: 6 hours
From
$14.61 USD


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