Cairns Nature & adventure

Our most recommended Cairns Nature & adventure

Cairns: Self-Guided Kuranda Day Trip, Scenic Rail & Skyrail

1. Cairns: Self-Guided Kuranda Day Trip, Scenic Rail & Skyrail

Explore the village of Kuranda in a pristine World Heritage-listed rainforest. Be picked up from your hotel and travel to the train station. Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway and marvel at mountains on the way. Soar over waterfalls and over Barron Gorge on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Explore the markets, shops, and walking trails, or take a river cruise (seasonal) for 2.5 hours. Discover the food stalls and cafés, or dine with the water dragons at Frog’s Restaurant famous for its sauces and dressings. Take the famous Skyrail down, spanning 7.5km over the rainforest canopy. Spot native wildlife, including the cassowary, the world's 3rd-largest flightless bird. Next, take the 2:00 PM Skyrail back to the bottom (Skyrail Smithfield station). Embark on a fascinating journey of discovery over and deep into the world’s oldest, continually-surviving tropical rainforest. The iconic Skyrail experience is a must-do Cairns attraction of Australia’s World-Heritage listed tropical rainforest, immersing you in one of the most botanically fascinating areas on earth. At the end of your Skyrail experience, be picked up again by bus at 3:30 PM to be brought back to the hotel.

From Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Tour

2. From Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Tour

Explore the stunning biodiversity of the outer Great Barrier Reef on this diving and snorkeling tour from Cairns. Sail on s boat 3 sun decks, 2 air-conditioned indoor saloons, a spacious dive deck, and a sunken platform for easy water access. Have drinks and a packed lunch. Depart Cairns in the morning for the outer reef on this 8-hour tour. Whether you are a snorkeler, first-time SCUBA diver, or already certified diver, join a once in a lifetime adventure aboard a luxury day trip to the great barrier reef. Enjoy a light morning tea and a delicious pre-packed picnic lunch. Complimentary tea, coffee, and chilled water are served throughout the day (snacks, soft and alcoholic beverages are also available for purchase). Discover the Great Barrier Reef in the easiest way possible: with a snorkel - it is as simple as breathing. If you have never snorkeled before, don't worry, a briefing is held on board, explaining how to put and use the snorkeling gear. The private reef locations are approximately 70 kilometers (about 43 miles) offshore, these unique sites offer superb coral formations and an abundance of coral and marine life including inquisitive Nemos, Turtles, Stingrays and Wally the friendly Maori Wrasse. Visit 2 different reef locations daily, these are chosen en-route considering weather and sea conditions to ensure the best in-water experience. Visit either Normank, Saxon or Hastings Reef.

Cairns: Outer and Coral Cay Snorkel and Dive Cruise

3. Cairns: Outer and Coral Cay Snorkel and Dive Cruise

Step foot on a super-fast, luxury 20m CAT, feeling welcomed and pampered, and embark on an ocean-filled journey of discovery. After your early boarding from Marlin Marina, breathe in the morning ocean breeze as you sail to one of two snorkel and dive destinations. From there, explore the ocean's brilliant fish and coral reefs. At the stunning Upolu Coral Cay Reef, learn about graceful blue-spotted stingrays, tenacious green sea turtles, bright damsel fish, and other amazing creatures that call this reef their home, as you observe them from a glass bottom boat. You’ll then have the chance to see these inquisitive creatures up close, while snorkeling within the incredibly clear, turquoise water. The second snorkel and dive site is the fascinating ‘Wonder Wall’, located on the outer edge of Upolu Reef. Enjoy snorkeling on the top of the wall for easy viewing of all the marine life and coral. Sign-up for the optional, certified or introductory guided dive, encountering a huge variety of aquatic flora and fauna, including hard and soft corals, giant clams, fans, turtles and a vast assortment of colorful tropical fish as you descend and meander along the side of the wall .  In between visiting these two sites, enjoy a smorgasbord lunch fit for a king. Savor smoked salmon, prawns, three types of cold meat, a chicken platter, three fresh salads and a variety of breads. After a relaxed six hours of diving and snorkeling, spend the trip home indulging in even more delicious food, arriving back at Cairns at around 4:30 PM.

From Cairns: Fitzroy Island Full-Day Adventure Tour

4. From Cairns: Fitzroy Island Full-Day Adventure Tour

Discover Fitzroy Island on a day tour from Cairns. Enjoy a scenic ferry ride and explore the many hiking trails. Admire the marine life native to the coral reef as you snorkel or observe from a glass-bottom boat. Choose from a range of packages, including transfers for you to explore on your own, or a package including snorkel or glass-bottom boat activities. Explore the Island's 339 hectares of lush rainforest that covers 94 percent of the island and is protected and managed as a National Park. Walking trails are suitable for all levels of fitness, allowing you to explore areas of the island at your leisure. The fast catamaran departs from the Marlin Marina, with check-in directly on the vessel. Cruise south along the calm waters of the coastline to reach Fitzroy Island in just 45 minutes, giving you up to 7 hours to explore the tropical island.

From Cairns: Full-Day Green Island Cruise

5. From Cairns: Full-Day Green Island Cruise

Climb aboard a modern catamaran to sail into Green Island National Park on a beach and snorkeling cruise from Cairns. Discover a hidden gem in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and explore its coral reefs with snorkeling gear. Choose to enjoy a buffet lunch and go on a semi-submarine tour. Make your way to the harbor to meet your friendly crew for the day and climb onto your catamaran. Relax in the sun as you set sail towards the Great Barrier Reef. Experience picturesque views of the ocean as you arrive at Green Island National Park. Stroll around the island and explore its tranquil beaches. Find a stop to relax and go for a dip in the ocean. Get access to snorkeling gear and take a peek into the region's thriving marine life. You can also opt to go on a semi-submarine or a glass-bottom boat tour to discover the colorful coral reef and fish in comfort.

Cairns: Skyrail, Kuranda and Rail Tour with Hotel Transfer

6. Cairns: Skyrail, Kuranda and Rail Tour with Hotel Transfer

Explore the Cairns World Heritage Rainforest on this tour with hotel pickup and drop-off in Cairns. Expereince the beauty of the rainforest from above on a ride to the town of Kuranda on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Spend free time in Kuranda before returning on the Kuranda Scenic Rail train. Be picked up from the comfort of your cairns accommodation in the morning. Relax on the drive to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Board Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and glide silently over the rainforest on your journey to Kuranda. Stop at two stations on the cableway where you can go for a walk in the rainforest to spectacular lookouts or visit the CSIRO Interpretive Center. Once you arrive in Kuranda. Have free time to explore the many and varied shops, as well as the Heritage Markets which operate daily. Board the famous Kuranda Scenic Rail train for ride over one of the world's most scenic rail routes. Cruise through hand-hewn tunnels and over bridges spanning stunning gorges. Catch your coach back to your accommodation in Cairns.

From Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Cruise by Premium Catamaran

7. From Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Cruise by Premium Catamaran

Hop aboard a catamaran for a day trip to remember to the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, dive, or swim in the water, enjoy a delicious buffet lunch, and take in the marine wildlife. Meet your crew at the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, pay the reef levy, and hop aboard the luxury catamaran. The crew will select reef locations depending on the day's conditions from Flynn and Milne reef or further north at Norman and Hastings reefs. All offer diverse reef structures teeming with exotic marine life. Feel the wind in your hair as you set sail for the outer Great Barrier Reef. Relax with morning tea on the way, get to know the crew and learn all about the marine eco-system from a marine expert. Review snorkeling techniques with the crew during the journey. Arrive at the first outer reef location, where you can snorkel, dive or swim in the water. You may also choose to sunbathe, or chill on the boat on the upper sun deck or the netted deck trampoline at the bow of the boat. You can avail complimentary guided tours from the staff. A dedicated dive tender is available for experienced certified divers who want to explore deeper waters. All certified divers receive a complimentary dive guide. First-time divers will receive a free 10-minute scuba instruction in the water from qualified PADI professionals. Savor a fresh tropical buffet lunch prepared onboard. Treat yourself to a selection of hot and cold dishes including buffet meats, salads, and tropical fruit. Travel to the second outer reef location for the day for your choice of activity. Look out for corals, exotic marine life such as parrotfish, reef turtles and 'nemo' fish. End the day as the captain hoists the sails, and cruise back to Cairns. Enjoy a cold drink from the bar (own expense) and relax on the boom netting. Alternatively, watch presentations about the marine life from the passionate eco-certified staff.

From Cairns: Michaelmas Cay National Park Catamaran Cruise

8. From Cairns: Michaelmas Cay National Park Catamaran Cruise

Departing daily from Cairns, the beautiful 32-meter sailing catamaran sets sail for a day to remember at the picturesque Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef. Encircled by fringing reef teeming with colorful marine life, this unique reef environment is also a bird lover’s delight and an important protected sanctuary for migratory seabirds. As a National Park, daily visitor numbers and access to the cay is limited to preserve this special environment. Luckily, you will spend 4 hours at this beautiful location. Throughout the day, the beach buggy boat will transfer you between the catamaran and the beach. Snorkel directly from the beach in the cay’s protected shallow waters, cruise in the semi-submersible with commentary for a diver’s view of the reef, watch the fish feeding presentation and observe the fascinating island birdlife. For the more adventurous there is the option to experience an exciting introductory scuba dive or join the marine biologist for a guided snorkel tour. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can just relax on the beach or on the catamaran's spacious decks and enjoy a leisurely day on the Great Barrier Reef. The choice is yours. An informative marine biologist reef presentation, delicious hot and cold buffet lunch and morning and afternoon teas are also included in your day. Your cruise will combine motor and sailing, depending on the day’s conditions. On the homeward bound journey, enjoy a complimentary glass of sparkling wine under the sails. Then, return to Cairns for the end of the tour.

Cairns Aquarium General Admission Ticket

9. Cairns Aquarium General Admission Ticket

Cairns Aquarium is Australia’s newest and most spectacular aquarium. It is the only aquarium in the world to exclusively showcase the stunning aquatic wildlife from tropical North Queensland’s two World Heritage-listed areas – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Experience the spectacular diversity of the region without the need to get wet or even leave the city. Travel through ten amazing North Queensland ecosystems from the world’s most ancient rainforest to the world’s largest coral reef to discover 71 different exhibits showcasing the extremely rare and incredibly unique species of this region. See a panorama of wildlife and marine fish that create an underwater world filled with a kaleidoscope of colour. Enjoy daily talks and presentations by knowledgeable and entertaining educators, marvel at the animal feeding sessions and get a hands-on experience at the marine and reptile touch tanks. Complete your day at Cairns Aquarium with breakfast, lunch or dinner at Aqualuna restaurant.

Cairns: Outer Edges of The Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight

10. Cairns: Outer Edges of The Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight

Take in the full spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef from the sky during a scenic flight from Cairns. Onboard a fixed-wing plane, see up to 140 kilometers of the Outer Barrier as well as many inner islands, reefs, and sand isles. Within 10 minutes of departing Cairns, the real adventure begins, as you get wonderful photo opportunities over Green Island, Oyster Reef, Vlasoff Cay, Upolo Reef, Pixie Reef, and Arlington Reef. Sit back in air-conditioned comfort as you glide through the sky. Take in the spectacular hues of green and blue from your window seat while listening to the pilot's informative commentary about the sights below. Get a chance to spot marine life with manta rays, green turtles, dugongs, sharks, and, if in season, whales, in clear view from the aircraft. Once your journey comes to an end, fly right back to Cairns.

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Frequently asked questions about Cairns

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The best day trips and excursions from Cairns are:

Port Douglas

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What people are saying about Cairns

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 2,566 reviews

It was fantastic! Very affordable for such an adventure of one of the worlds iconic treasures, The Great Barrier Reef. I highly recommend our tour guide.

Had an amazing time with Ocean Freedom! They let us spend hours snorkeling on 2 reef destinations. Crew are friendly and made sure everyone’s safe.

Great Tour. The Cairns aquarium is beautiliful. The guide was very informative and the meal at Dundee's did not disappoint.

Our trip was amazing. Was definitely worth upgrading to Gold Class on the train, exceptional service.

Lovely boat trip with amazing diving in the coral reef. The crew was 10/10