From the Great Barrier Reef and the wild rain forests of the far north to the glorious beaches of the Gold and Sunshine coasts, Queensland is Australia's adventure playground. Travelers can cruise to a tropical island; learn to surf or scuba dive; check skydiving off the bucket list; or treat the kids to a day at a theme park.
Due to Queensland's tropical climate and searing summer temperatures, the best time to visit is during the autumn and winter months from May to October. It's still possible to visit in summer, but be prepared for high humidity and greater water restrictions due to box jellyfish. Whenever your visit, there's no time like the present to book your trip. With the Australian dollar falling, US and European travelers should book soon to take advantage of the favorable exchange rates.
Ready to start planning? Here are five experiences not to miss:
Cruise the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns or Townsville
A natural wonder, a UNESCO World Heritage site and undeniably one of Queensland's biggest tourist draws — travelers simply can’t miss a tour of the Great Barrier Reef
. Admire the vibrant marine life of the world's largest coral reef with a swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving tour; cruise to one of many nearby islands; or enjoy thrilling aerial views on a helicopter tour. Peak times to see it are from June to November and cruises fill quickly, so be sure to get tickets in advance!
This UNESCO-listed island boasts an impressive superlative: the world's largest sand island! Located just off the Sunshine Coast, this slice of paradise is blanketed with white-sand beaches, crystalline lakes and lush rain forests. Highlights include cruising around Lake Mackenzie
; snorkeling and kayaking along the coast; and taking a wildlife safari to see the island's famous dingoes.
Renew your sense of adventure at Australia's top theme parks
Whether you've got kids in tow or just need an adrenaline fix, the Gold Coast is home to some epic theme parks. Meet cartoon character favorites at Warner Bros Movie World
; swim with dolphins at Sea World
; tackle hair-raising roller coasters at Dream World
; or make a splash at Wet'n'Wild
Take a journey by train through lush tropical climate to Kuranda
Venture off the beaten track and take in the wild scenery of Queensland’s tropics with a ride on the spectacular Kuranda Scenic Railway
. Winding its way north past UNESCO-listed rain forest, steep ravines and thundering waterfalls, the 21-mile (34-km) route is one of Australia's most spectacular railway experiences.
See Queensland from above
Whether you fancy a daring skydive, a thrilling helicopter tour or a climb up Brisbane's Story Bridge
, there are plenty of ways to get your heart pumping and experience Queensland from above. The most romantic way to get a bird's-eye view is by floating overhead in a hot air balloon — opt for a 30- or 60-minute flight from Cairns and soak up mesmerizing views of the Atherton Tablelands and the Far North.