16 Feb
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Ultimate Bucket List for First-Time Visitors to Cairns

Whether you’re flying solo, backpacking with a hubby, or travelling with the family, you can never go wrong with Cairns in Tropical North Queensland.

Cairns is famous for its natural beauty and laid-back charm which have lured both foreign and local tourists into its majestic place. Aside from the scenic landscapes, thrilling adventures and lots of fun activities also await first-timers like you in this part of the region.

From island hopping to snorkelling, animal park tours, bungy jumping, and more, you’ll never run out of activities to participate in and idyllic places to explore in Cairns. But you’ll run out of time, that’s for sure. So make the most of every minute of your stay in Queensland and complete this bucket list that we’ve laid out just for you!

1. Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Your holiday at Tropical North Queensland is not complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Since Cairns is the best gateway to the world-renowned Reef, you definitely shouldn’t miss out on sailing to the great natural attraction.

It’s home to over 1500 species of marine life and 2500 colourful coral reefs of various shapes and sizes. And you can marvel at this beauty up close and personal.  You can book tours where you can swim and hangout with schools of fish wading through the calm waters of the Great Barrier Reef. You can also venture to greater lengths of the reef with an outer reef dive or sea kayaking tour.

But if you’re not too keen to go underwater, you can simply sit cozily on a glass bottom boat and watch the lively marine life under the sea. Perfect if you have children who are still afraid of the water, too.

Why Visiting the Great Barrier Reef Should Be on Your Bucket List

2. Book Your Stay at Fitzroy Island

Everything Cairns has to offer cannot be covered in just one day. There are so many activities to do and places to explore. One of the coolest nearby places you can adventure to and actually stay at is Fitzroy Island.

Fitzroy Island is just one of the 900 paradise islands in the whole of the Great Barrier Reef and it’s only a 45-minute boat ride from Cairns. It’s a great place to stay because it’s sheltered between the calm waters of the reef and covered with lush rainforests.

There are several options if you want to spend the night or the coming days at Fitzroy Island. You can book a penthouse, bungalows, 2-bedroom suites, your own apartment, a beach cabin, or simply pitch your tent on the camping grounds! No matter how big your squad is, there’s a room for you to stay the night!

But there’s more to Fitzroy Island than it’s cozy rooms and world-class accommodation.

Almost 97 percent of the island is a National Park that can be explored via walking trails. There are easy walking trails and steep hiking explorations that you can tackle. The Lighthouse and Summit walks will allow you to see the Great Barrier Reef and the entirety of the island at a higher vantage point. The majestic view up in the lighthouse tower and the summit is certainly worth the hike!

After the gruelling hike, drop by at Foxy’s to relax. It’s a huge 70s-themed bar sitting right at the beachfront. They offer a casual café style of menu including kiddie meals and a great range of drinks. However you like to loosen up, there’s a beverage for you, too! From beers, to wine, soft drinks, cocktails, and cappuccino.

Be sure to stay a little longer and catch the most beautiful sunset you’ll ever see.

3. Rule the Sky via the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Conquer your fear of heights and hop in the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. It’s a 90-minute trip that will take you above the towering trees of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics Rainforest with 2 full stops so you can marvel at the natural beauty of the rainforest even longer.

But save your phone’s storage and battery for the last stop: Kuranda. It’s a quirky little village nestled in the rainforest. It’s famous for its Kuranda Markets where you can grab a bite and buy souvenirs for your friends back at home!

We know that it will be hard for you to leave Kuranda Village. But we also know that you wouldn’t say no to this return trip from Kuranda to Cairns: a two-hour trip in a 120-year-old train system. Amazing, right? The vintage charm of the Kuranda Scenic Railway has never failed to wow visitors as they are being weaved through the mountain walls of Barron Gorge National Park, passing through 37 bridges and rumbling rainforest waterfalls.

We bet after this trip, you wouldn’t ride a train the same way again.

4. Hang Out with the Crocodiles at Hartley’s

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is just 40 minutes north of Cairns. It’s one of the best parks in Cairns where you can experience the wildlife, featuring the stars of the show: freshwater crocodiles.

You can either jump on a boat cruise and spot some crocodiles along the way, watch the crocodile attack show, or learn everything about conservation and sustainability in one of the crocodile farm tours.

If freshies scare you, Hartley’s also take care of some cute furry and feathery friends like koalas, wallabies and cassowaries which you can feed, with the assistance of the staff.

Image Credit: cairnsattractions.com.au

5. Bungy Jump at AJ Hackett

If you’re the type who lives for the thrill and adrenaline-rush, bungy jumping might be your next cup of tea. AJ Hackett is the first bungy jumping site in Australia and is just a 20-minute drive from Cairns.

The platform is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It’s a 50-metre plunge that will send you hanging upside down and screaming for your life mid-air. If you’ve never done bungy jumping, AJ Hackett offers 16 different kinds of bungy jumps that will cater to both the first timers and seasoned daredevils.

By the way, you will see a majestic view of the surrounding rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef when you’re finally at the platform. We just wanted to mention here just in case that’ll help calm you before the big jump.

6. Go Freshwater Swimming in the Rainforest

If you’ve had enough of the sea and want to try something new, you can take a dip in the freshwater swimming spots located at the very heart of the rainforests in Cairns. One of which is the Crystal Cascades.

It’s a secluded freshwater swimming hole hidden in a tropical rainforest, just 25-minute drive out of Cairns. It’s a series of small waterfalls that tumble into large pools where you can do your butterflies and backstrokes. It’s also protected by the towering trees and giant granite boulders and no major tours visit there so you’ll really feel secluded in the jungle.

If you get hungry swimming, there are BBQs and picnic tables set up in the area so you can cook your lunch and get your body recharged for another dip in the afternoon.

Image Credit: https://www.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au

Besides everything that’s listed here, there are more tourist spots that you can explore in Cairns. But these attractions should be enough for first-timers like you to get you introduced to both the relaxing charm and thrilling adventures that Cairns has to offer.

And if this bucket list won’t get you packing your bags for the ultimate travel goal, we don’t know what will! 

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