How to Spend 3 Days in Cairns & the Tropical North
Most visitors who head to Cairn visit this city in Australia’s tropical north as a way to access the Great Barrier Reef, but the region offers a variety of activities. On a three day trip, you have plenty of time to visit the reef and also explore the city and the surrounding rainforest. Here are some ways to spend 72 hours in Cairns.
Day 1: Experience the City by Land and Water
A great way to get your bearings is on a sightseeing tour of the city and its surroundings. Hop on a bus, bike, or Segway for a guided tours of city attractions like the Flecker Botanical Gardens and St. Monica's Cathedral, which boasts the largest themed stained glass windows in the world. Some bus tours give you the option of also taking a morning cruise to Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Alternatively, book an audio tour and explore the city at your own pace.
End your day with a sunset cruise through Trinity Inlet aboard a comfortable catamaran. Soak up views of the city and the harbor while you enjoy drinks and appetizers; some cruises even offer dinner at one of the city’s best restaurants after the ride.
Day 2: Head Out Onto the Great Barrier Reef
The UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef is the main attraction in this part of the world, so make the most of your visit by spending a whole day exploring it. Join a diving and/or snorkeling cruise, and visit two different sites to see the vibrant marine life living below the reef’s clear waters. Cruises often cover Outer Great Barrier Reef highlights like Saxon Reef or Norman Reef in the morning, then head to Hastings Reef in the afternoon, and most include a hearty lunch as well as snacks. Some tours also offer a short helicopter flight over the reef to give you a different perspective on the world-famous site.
In the evening, get a taste of Aboriginal culture with dinner at Flames of the Forest, an open-air restaurant set under the trees in a rainforest that features upscale food along with live music and performances.
Day 3: Explore the Kuranda Rainforest
Spend your last day in Cairns exploring another of the area’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rainforest around the town of Kuranda. Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway, and visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary (largest flight aviary in the country), the Rainforestation Nature Park, and the Koala and Wildlife Park before returning to Cairns on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Some tours also include lunch and an Aboriginal cultural experiences; some have the added privilege of skip-the-line entrance and upgraded seating on the scenic railway.
To celebrate the end of your trip, get dressed up and finish the evening with an entertaining (and interactive) dinner theater show filled with music and comedy. From burlesque shows to murder mysteries, Cairns Dinner Theatre’s shows will keep you entertained and—with a three-course meal included with the ticket—satisfied.