The gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a city in Queensland’s far north. A cluster of world-famous natural wonders reside here and simply put, Cairns is a must-see. If you’re an adventurer at heart, you’ll especially love what Cairns has to offer. Here are the seven best things to Cairns for every first-timer!
1. Great Barrier Reef
You can’t come to Cairns without seeing the Great Barrier Reef! It’s literally a must when considering the things to do in Cairns. There are many ways to experience the reef but the most popular are snorkelling and scuba diving. If you prefer to stay dry, you can visit the underwater observatory, take a glass bottom boat cruise or even a helicopter ride!
2. Babinda Boulders
Surrounded by the lush rainforest, Babinda Boulders is a popular swimming hole for locals and tourists alike. Pack some lunch or a picnic along, because you’ll want to take at least half a day to really explore this beautiful gem of a spot. Take a dip in the crystal clear water, but make sure to watch out for the current which can be rough sometimes. Go around the corner to check out Devil’s Pool, which is next on the list below!
3. Devil’s Pool
The crystalline waters at Babinda Boulders eventually spill over into Devil’s Pool. It’s a popular spot to hop in during times of less rain, but some days the force of the water can be gnarly. There are several paranormal stories surrounding Devil’s Pool, such as one about the spirit of a woman, Oolana, that haunts the bottom of the pool. Several deaths have occurred here, so do with that what you will!
Northwest of Cairns and into the mountains is Kuranda. From village markets, riverboat tours to wildlife encounters, there’s much to do here on a day trip. But just as important is the destination is the journey. Make your way up to the village via the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Built in 1891, it navigates through the dense rainforest, waterfalls, rugged peaks and steep ravines.
5. Crystal Cascades
A 20-minute drive from the city central and you’ll come to find the secluded swimming hole that is Crystal Cascades. A favourite amongst locals, the waterfall is fringed by large boulders and the rainforest. After a dip, you can also trek to the nearby Fairy Falls.
6. Daintree Rainforest
At 180 million years old, Daintree National Park is the world’s oldest rainforest. It has experienced the dinosaurs, and has never seen an ice age because of the tropical climate here. Just as exceptional as the forest are the experiences you’ll find within it, from wildlife spotting to jungle surfing. Indulge in the healing properties of a Indigenious spa experience, go on a river cruise and learn age-old knowledge from the Kuku Yalanji people.
7. Cape Tribulation
Where the Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation is the only place in the world where two world heritage sites meet. Experience the unique feeling of stepping onto the beach from the rainforest. Marvel at the empty beach where driftwood form natural sculptures, ride a horse from the beach to the rainforest or pitch your tent so you can fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves. If you love to hike, Cape Tribulation is also a bushwalking paradise!