The Top 10 Things to do in Cairns

From snorkelling the majestic corals of the Outer Barrier Reef, to sliding down rainforest waterfalls, there is an abundance of things to do in Cairns.

Surrounded by pristine World Heritage rainforest, palm-fringed beaches and just a stone's throw away from the largest living organism on the entire globe, Cairns is the gateway to some of the most beautiful places in Australia.

Whether you are planning on staying a month, a year, or even if you're a local, here's the ultimate list of 10 things to do in Cairns to tick off your bucket-list...

1. Snorkel The Outer Barrier Reef

Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises

Even the most seasoned snorkeller is sure to find themselves with literal heart eyes when they snorkel the iconic Great Barrier Reef. As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this gigantic organism stretches 2,300KM from Cape York in the north to Bundaberg in the south. It's also home to over 1,500 fish species, 5,000 species of molluscs and six species of marine turtles.

Cairns is the city with the closest proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, making it a fantastic base to explore this bucket-list must do.

Sunlover Reef Cruises is an Australian owned, award winning company that offers daily tours to the Outer Great Barrier Reef at Moore Reef, which is considered one of the best Great Barrier Reef locations off Cairns. Guests explore the reef off Sunlover's newly renovated double story Marine Base, which is home to the only waterslide on the Great Barrier Reef. From here, guests can jump in and explore pristine coral gardens, hop on a glass bottom-boat or semi-sub tour, or get up close and personal with marine critters in Sunlover's touch tank experience.

Moore Reef's unique ecosystem consists of hard and soft corals in every shade of the colour spectrum and is home to an array of marine life, including Clownfish, Green Sea Turtles and the friendly resident Maori Wrasse, "Wally".

Learn to dive on one of the most iconic underwater destinations in the world, walk underwater on a Seawalker helmet dive or soar high above this incredible organism on a scenic helicopter flight.

Book Moore Reef full day Outer Great Barrier Reef tour here.

2. Slide Down Nature's Waterfall At Josephine Falls

Josephine Falls, QLD

Who doesn't love a good slide? And when the slide in question is in fact a waterfall surrounded by an abundance of lush tropical foliage, even the most sensible traveller will be jumping up and down with excitement.

Located in Wooroonoran (try saying that ten times fast) National Park, this multi-tiered wonder is perfect for swimming in, relaxing in and, best of all, sliding down. In appropriate weather, the lowest tier of this dreamy waterfall makes a surprisingly good natural waterslide.

3. Soak Up Some Rays At The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

You haven't been to Cairns unless you've spent a day relaxing next to the iconic Esplanade Lagoon! Clear safe water and sweeping harbour views make the Esplanade Lagoon the ultimate holiday freebie.

That's right, one of the best things to do in Cairns won't cost you a cent!

4. Visit Australia's Best Beach

Nudey Beach, voted best beach in Australia

Australia is known for it's beautiful beaches, but it doesn't get much better than Nudey Beach, which was recently voted the best beach in Australia.

Located on the picture perfect Fitzroy Island, Nudey Beach is pretty much the dictionary definition of paradise. Sparkling aqua ocean, glistening boulders and white sand dotted with coral makes this beach a must-visit. Grab a snorkel and fins and enjoy exploring fringing corals just metres from the shore.

Hop on Sunlover's Fitzroy Island Cruise and enjoy a day exploring this paradise! Alternatively, experience the best of both worlds with a double day Fitzroy Island and Outer Great Barrier Reef package.

5. Chase Waterfalls On The Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tablelands

TLC famously said "don't go chasing waterfalls", but in Far North Queensland, they are far too pretty not too!

One of the best things to do in Cairns is to spend a day chasing waterfalls on the Atherton Tablelands, which can be accessed via ranges both north and south of Cairns.

There are dozens of waterfalls to explore, from the rocky gorges of Emerald Creek Falls, to the hidden rainforest wonder of Nandroya Falls.

We recommend heading up to the Atherton Tablelands early and getting started with the iconic waterfall circuit in Millaa Millaa.

6. Beach Hop The Captain Cook Highway

Captain Cook Highway

With endless palm fringed beaches, hidden headlands and towering lookouts, it's not surprising that the Captain Cook Highway, which runs from Cairns to Port Douglas, is known as the second most beautiful drive in Australia.

Spend one of your days in Cairns road-tripping along this stunning stretch of road and stopping at one of the stunning, and surprisingly deserted, beaches. Our picks? Big and beautiful Oak Beach and the deserted sand stretches between Ellis Beach and Wangetti.

7. See The Point Where Two World Heritage Areas Meet

Photo Source: Tourism and Events

When two World Heritage areas quite literally touch, it's undeniably magical. Head north past Port Douglas and get ready to explore the oldest living rainforest on the entire globe: the Daintree Rainforest.

Take a trip back in time on rainforest boardwalk, explore one of the regions beautiful beaches and tantalize your taste buds at one of the local eateries. Finish at Cape Tribulation and walk along the beach where the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage rainforest meet.

8. Wake Up On The Great Barrier Reef

Sunlover by Starlight with Sunlover Reef Cruises

Ready to tick the Great Barrier Reef off your bucket list? Make this once in a lifetime experience even more unforgettable by staying overnight on the Great Barrier Reef.

Sunlover by Starlight offers guests the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience: glamping in a swag on the world's largest living organism under interrupted views of the Southern Night Sky. Guests are treated to a hosted five star experiences, which includes gourmet food, exclusive snorkel and glass bottom boat tours, night time marine presentation, hosted star gazing and more.

Book Sunlover by Starlight overnight reef experience here.

9. Soar Above The Rainforest Canopy

Photo Credit: Skyrail Cableway

Did you spend your childhood wishing you could fly? Your dream could truly become a reality! Soar peacefully over the canopy of the World Heritage Rainforest on a Skyrail gondola. See sweeping views of Barron Falls before arriving in the eclectic rainforest village of Kuranda.

See the best of Cairns from above and below with a Great Barrier Reef Cruise, Skyrail Cableway and Kuranda Scenic Railway package.

10. Float In Paradise At Babinda Boulders

Babinda Boulders

The emerald green pools of the Babinda Boulders are made for hot tropical days! Located an hour South of Cairns, this popular swimming spot is well worth the drive.

Ready to experience the ultimate things to do in Cairns? Start by booking our award winning Outer Great Barrier Reef tour. Alternatively, take a look at our Great Barrier Reef packages to get more Tropical North Queensland bang for your bucks.