10 Things to Do in Cairns That You Shouldn't Miss

December 6, 2017 Layne Dawes

Cairns is the perfect city for merry revelers, passionate divers and adrenaline junkies, offering booming nightlife and heart-pounding adventure amid a vibrant, tropical setting.  This friendly Queensland city of 130,000 is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation, Cooktown and the rest of Cape York Peninsula. Embark on an eco-adventure or take a dip in a lagoon pool before hitting the town to unwind and shake what you’ve got Down Under.
Restaurants in Cairns

1. Trail Bike Adventures

886 Koah Road, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia +61 411 390 188
Excellent
96%
Good
2%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 203 reviews

Trail Bike Adventures

World class professional organisers and specialists in delivering the ultimate premium all inclusive guided off-road motorcycle adventures of trail bike and enduro tours, from 1 day to 7 days around Cairns, Atherton Tablelands and Cape York. Motorcycle licence or learners is required. 1 day tour - $495. "Once discovered...never forgotten"

Reviewed By Caitlyn M - Caloundra, Australia

Honestly the most amazing ride I've ever done with such an epic crew! My brother and I did this together, always laughing, cheering each other on, helping each other out in the hard times and never left alone to do something you're not comfortable with. Squid and Woody the Lead and Sweep riders are insane at their job, larakins with a wealth of knowledge! I could not recommend this tour enough. If you want to see amazing country, do some gnarly trails, have epic belly laughs, challenge yourself and say you've been to the very tip of Australia, North Qld Trail Bike Adventures are the guys to go with! Monique and Greg the owners and operators have exceptional hospitality and kindness that go above and beyond Braaaaap, just send it!!

2. Josephine Falls

Wooroonooran, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia
Excellent
79%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 240 reviews

Josephine Falls

Reviewed By Janet T - Granville, Ohio

Our innkeeper recommended that we visit this falls during our day trip in the area. It was worth the side trip, especially nice since we just had three full days of rain and it was at maximum flow. However the day before some young woman did not heed the closure of swimming in the plunge pool, since the water level was so high, and she unfortunately died. So on our visit there was some emergency tape around one of the overlooks...

3. Muddy's Playground

The Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia +61 7 4044 3715
Excellent
74%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Muddy's Playground

Muddy's playground is open every day of the year between 9am and 7pm (including public holidays and weekends). Sections of Muddy's are closed for maintenance on Tuesday and Thursday mornings until noon. Even when maintenance works are being carried out, Council aims to have at least half the playground available for use. Muddy's is a modern, fun, safe, splash playground and parkland. It incorporates active, passive, interactive and educational facilities with a combination of play equipment. Muddy's playground is themed "Life in Trinity Bay" and the playground includes water play areas plus a flying fox, sound chimes, track ride, rope bridge, slides, play houses, story telling areas, see-saw, trick track and puzzle games. Please note that the disabled-use Liberty Swing uses the MLAK national keying system. For access please ask at Muddy's cafe. Muddy's has two toilet facilities one at the north end of Muddy's near the cafe and one at the southern end of Muddy's. Muddy's has barbecues, picnic tables and an on-site cafe.

Reviewed By Ian G - Cairns, Australia

My wife and I agreed to meet some 'out of town' friends at Muddy's. Why?? because the out-of-towners all had kids. Muddy's cafe was the perfect venue for a mid-day get together. The kids could go off and have a good old fashioned play about (with at least one adult to supervise) while the rest of us could sit down in comfort under the palm trees, have a cool drink and a good old fashioned chat.
The menu at Muddy's was basic - but very good - and the service was amazingly good. Everyone had a great time, a great (but basic) meal and ab good chance to catch up with each other.
A great place to go to with kids!

4. Cairns Botanic Gardens

64 Collins Ave, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia +61 7 4032 6650
Excellent
63%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Cairns Botanic Gardens

The Cairns Botanic Gardens are a tropical paradise where you can explore the beauty of tropical plants, relax in stunning surroundings and learn about tropical flora and horticulture. The Gardens are open from 7.30Am to 5.30Pm every day of the year and entry is free. The Botanic Gardens includes several spaces used for demonstrating the diverse plant life that can be found within a tropical climate. The Cairns Botanic Gardens include: Flecker Garden Centenary Lakes - Saltwater and Freshwater The Rainforest Boardwalk Mount Whitfield Conservation Park The Gondwanan Heritage Garden

Reviewed By Fastphilad - Mich

Located not too far from city center and did not have an admission charge. We enjoyed our stroll through the Gardens paved paths and enjoyed all the flowers and tropical plantings. I believe it closes at five or 5:30 in the evening. So be prepared

5. Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

52 - 54 The Esplanade Cairns, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia +61 7 4044 3715
Excellent
65%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 3 reviews

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Escape the summer heat at one of Cairns' best known landmarks, the Esplanade Lagoon. Set on the Cairns foreshore overlooking Trinity Inlet, the 4800 sq metre saltwater swimming lagoon offers locals and tourists a year round safe swimming location. Saltwater is pumped from the inlet and filtered through a state of the art filtration and chlorination system, to meet Australian Standards. The kids can enjoy the sandy edges, build sand Castles and play in shallow water. On the other side of the Lagoon, visitors can lounge on the timber decks in moderate shade. Shady trees, landscaped Gardens and open spaces all contribute to the leisurely atmosphere on the Esplanade The Lagoon is open 6am-9pm Thursday - Tuesday, Midday-9pm Wednesday all year round.

Reviewed By SharonJT67 - Durham, United Kingdom

What an incredible place to see, we visited on an overcast Saturday in March but there were still plenty of people taking advantage of the lovely clean facility which was nice & warm & most important, safe, wish we could take a leaf out of your book & take pride in our surroundings, every credit to the local Council, very impressive

6. Behana Gorge Waterfall

Behana Gorge Rd, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia +61 427 820 993
Excellent
70%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 133 reviews

Behana Gorge Waterfall

Reviewed By Angus M - Cairns, Australia

Behana Gorge is just over 30km from Cairns. You will need your own transport to get there. The road into the falls is on google maps so easy to find. This road will take you to a carpark from where you start walking. Behana creek is one of the water sources for Cairns so there is an access road from the carpark to the waterfall,s making walking easy. The walk to the falls is several kilometres going up so give yourself several hours of visiting time so you can get to the falls and relax for a while before returning to the car park.
The falls are stunning and you get some spectacular views of Behana Creek and the falls on the walk in. There are opportunities to swim near the base of the falls during the dry season when the creek flow is gentle. During the wet season the creek can make swimming dangerous.
If you don't mind a bit of a walk I recommend Behana Gorge Waterfall as a great place to visit. Take a picnic and enjoy.

7. Atherton Tablelands

Cairns, Queensland, Australia +61 7 4091 6945
Excellent
64%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 533 reviews

Atherton Tablelands

Reviewed By THSMTHS - Glendale, Arizona

This trip was an excursion where we visited three water falls (Milla, Milla Falls, Dinner Falls and Victoria Falls and several scenic areas. The Tablelands were not what I had expected at all. Much of the area was rain forest and others rolling lands. Everyone on the tour was under 25 except for the tour guide and us. It was a wonderful day and we really enjoyed talking to and getting to know the young people on the trip.

8. Esplanade Boardwalk

The Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia +61 7 4044 3715
Excellent
63%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Esplanade Boardwalk

The Cairns Esplanade is a picturesque 2.5km stretch of foreshore in the heart of Cairns that is managed by Cairns Regional Council. The parklands, Playgrounds, boardwalk, Lagoon and recreational facilities are all free entry. Come along and enjoy this stunning facility.

Reviewed By dancolton - Toronto, Canada

Cairns is a city full of hotels and hugely over priced restaurants, and that's all . There is nothing there , yes the ocean is there but there is 300 meters of mud to get to the water, no beach , can't swim . Just hotels , bars, and travel offices . Go To Port Douglas , the reef trips leave from there , the good ones . It has a beach . Cairns has travel offices to get you to Port Douglas , that's all . Yes the esplanade is nice , so look around for a day , no need to stay longer . Port Douglas , that's the place

9. Tablelands, Waterfalls, and Spanish Castle

Cairns, Queensland, Australia +61 7 4035 5566
Excellent
70%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 365 reviews

Tablelands, Waterfalls, and Spanish Castle

Reviewed By 4kath2010 - Tsada, Cyprus

I thoroughly enjoyed my day out. The water falls were magnificent. The spanish castle Paronella Park is amazing.

10. Michaelmas Cay

Great Barrier Reef | Queensland, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia
Excellent
68%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 552 reviews

Michaelmas Cay

Reviewed By Suzanne P

my first time snorkelling in open waters and with so many people . this was well organised and was run professionally . staff were friendly :) .
my only complaint and yes i should of voiced to staff but i knew it couldnt be fixed there and then so i didnt , so tjis is now just CHECK YOUR GEAR before leaving the boat . i got out there my masked leaked , so my eyes filled with salt water , my flipper had a massive tare. I wasnt the only one , i borrowed 2 other masks from othees and these were the same .

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