Scenic adventures & things to do in Cairns
Mention Australia and its urban cities immediately come to mind. But the country has more to offer than just a concrete jungle. Adventurers seeking thrilling things to do can journey to Cairns where they have myriad activities to choose from in the quaint city and the outback surrounding it.
So whether you’re an avid hiker who wants to conquer the world’s tallest natural “pyramid” or a thrillseeker who dares to get up close and personal with crocodiles, these 10 adventures in Cairns would be up your alley. Don’t forget your cameras as the views from these locales are a sight for sore eyes.
P.S. Singapore Airlines is kicking off VTL flights to Cairns 3 times a week from 28th March onwards, and this will go up to 5 times a week from 30th May.
1. Go canyoning down the Behana Gorge
Image credit: Cairns Canyoning
There’s rock-climbing, and then there’s the opposite called canyoning. For those not familiar with the activity, it’s the act of navigating down a fast-flowing mountain stream using techniques like abseiling and climbing amongst many others.
One of the gorges you can scale downwards in Cairns is the Behana Gorge, and the pros from Cairns Canyoning will ensure you make it down in one piece. Each trip will have you abseiling at least twice, doing rock jumps up to 12m long, and entering plunge pools – although the latter depends on the weather.
Each booking will include a return shuttle trip and safety equipment like helmets, harnesses, and life jackets
Prices: AUD189/pax (S$187) [8 years old and above only]
2. Ride on a hot air balloon over the Atherton Tablelands
Image credit: Hot Air Balloon Cairns
We can’t flap our wings like birds to fly just yet, so the next best way to see the beauty of Mother Nature from the skies is on a hot air balloon. Just south-west of Cairns is Atherton Tabletop where Hot Air Balloon Cairns fly out from.
During your 40-minute ride in the balloon, you’ll have a front-row seat to view the vast and lush landscape of Mareeba. Each ticket also includes a digital photography package to immortalise your trip among the clouds as well as a glass of bubbly or juice upon reaching the ground.
Address: 345 Byrnes Street, Mareeba Heritage Centre, Mareeba 4880
Prices: Ticket prices from AUD299/adult (S$296) & AUD259/child ($256)
3. Discover secret islands to feel like a castaway
The iconic swing on Fitzroy Island
Image credit: @jenny123502
You’re not limited to vacationing only in the Australian mainland during your trip down to Cairns, especially since the area is teeming with secret islands that are off the beaten track. Those with a day to spare can head to Fitzroy Island. There is a day ferry that takes you to the island that has snorkelling options so you can make the most out of your time in the crystal clear waters.
Once you’ve disembarked the ferry, there are plenty of things to do on and off the shores of Fitzroy Island. Those who like being on solid ground can trek on any of the 4 hiking trails the island has to offer; the shortest is a 25-minute trek while the longest is a 3-hour return trip for hikers with tons of stamina.
Nudey Beach has been crowed Australia’s Best Beach for a few years running
Image credit: @kristanya
You can also swim and snorkel around Nudey Beach to see the fringing coral reefs. At just a few metres away from the beach, it’s easy enough for beginner swimmers and even children to check out part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Fitzroy Island Adventures Ferry
Address: Cairns City, Reef Fleet Terminal, Queensland 4870
Prices: AUD85/adult (S$85) & AUD56/child (S$56)
4. Go tubing down rainforest rivers
Image credit: Foaming Fury
If you’ve only ever ridden on a sampan down the Singapore River, this is your chance to step out of your comfort zone and go tubing down rivers in Cairns. The Behana Gorge and Mulgrave River are both natural rainforest rivers and you can soak in all the scenery from a tube.
There’s no need to worry as this is a scenic ride that anyone from 5-70 years old can go on, not one of those fast-paced water park rides that will soak you from head to toe. 2 slots are available daily: 7.45am-12pm and 1.45pm-6pm.
- Adults: AUD95/pax (S$94)
- Children: AUD75/pax (S$74)
- Family (2 adults and 2 children): AUD330 (S$326)
5. Spot crocodiles on a wildlife cruise tour if you dare
Image credit: Tropical North Queensland
The bold and the brave who have no qualms about Australia’s reputation for creepy crawlies can head 40 minutes north of Cairns to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. Their daily lagoon cruises are your best shot at coming face-to-face with the reptiles with just a single window pane protecting you from their jaws.
Other activities you can partake in while at the park include going on a farm tour, feeding the crocodiles, and watching their signature Crocodile Attack Show.
Address: Captain Cook Highway, Lot 4014, Wangetti 4877
Opening hours: 8.30am-5pm, Daily
- Adults: AUD43/pax (S$42)
- Children (4-15 years old): AUD21.50 (S$21.30)
- Family (2 adults and 2 children): AUD107.50 (S$106.50)
6. Skydive & see the Great Barrier Reef from 15,000ft in the air
Image credit: Skydive Cairns
For those who feel that hot air ballooning isn’t enough, they can choose to go even higher and skydive above Cairns to get their kicks instead. Skydive Cairns has experienced instructors that will take you tandem skydiving so even those who are just a tad nervous don’t have to sweat too much.
There are two heights to choose to freefall from: 7,500ft and 15,000ft, and you’ll be flying high like a bird until you’re around 4,000ft which is typically when the parachute cord is pulled. And while most skydiving adventures will take anywhere from 3-4 hours, unforeseen weather conditions can turn this into an all-day affair. Don’t pack too much in your day if you’re going for this.
Prices: From AUD219 (S$216) for a tandem skydive
7. Swing at speeds of 120km/h at AJ Hackett’s Skypark Cairns
Image credit: Skypark Cairns by AJ Hackett
AJ Hackett is known for their adrenaline-inducing rides, and fans of their Sentosa outpost will be glad to know that they have a Skypark in Cairns too. The humble playground swing we all know and love has been upsized into a giant swing that goes from 0-120km/h in just 3.5 seconds. Wooosh.
Image credit: Skypark Cairns by AJ Hackett
Of course, thrillseekers can also get their hearts racing by bungy jumping off Australia’s only Bungy jump that’s 50m off the ground here. This is slightly taller than the 47m-tall jump at Sentosa. They even have a plank for daredevils to walk on to recreate their best pirate fantasies.
P.S. The Skypark is an all-weather attraction that will have your hearts racing, rain or shine.
Address: End of McGregor Road, Smithfield 4878
Opening hours: 10am-3pm, Daily
- Bungy Jump: AUD139/pax (S$137)
- Giant Swing: AUD99/pax (S$98)
- Walk The Plank: AUD49/pax (S$48.50)
8. Journey deep into a rainforest on a scenic railway ride
Image credit: @jazzfang
After all that action, one way you can wind down is to hop on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. The 34km journey on the train meanders through the Wet Tropics, Far North Queensland’s World Heritage-listed rainforest, and passengers will pass by spectacular waterfalls and vast gorges on their way to the village of Kuranda.
Those who want to keep count can also watch out for the 55 bridges and 15 tunnels the train will pass through over 1 hour and 25 minutes. This definitely belongs in the top few scenic things to do in the country.
- Heritage Class
- One way: AUD50/adult (S$49), AUD25/child (S$24), AUD125/family of four (S$123)
- Return: AUD76/adult (S$75), AUD38/child (S$37), AUD190/family of four (S$188)
- Gold Class
- One way: AUD99/adult (S$98), AUD74/child (S$73), AUDV321/family of four ($317)
- Return: AUD174/adult (S$172), AUD136/child (S$134), AUD582/family of four (S$576)
- From Cairns: 8.30am & 9.30am
- From Kuranda: 2pm & 3.30pm
9. Hike up the world’s tallest natural “pyramid”
Its shape looks almost too perfect and gives the impression that this was made by humans
Image credit: @lavienoz
We often associate pyramids with the man-made ones in Egypt. But a 30-minute jaunt out from Cairns is Walsh’s Pyramid, the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world at 922m tall. Those with stamina can attempt the 6.2km hike to its summit with a return trip averaging around 4-6 hours.
Image credit: @ashleeoxenham
Once you reach the peak, you can expect picturesque, 360-degree views of the surrounding area including the sugar cane fields. Some hikers who have made the ascension have also said that the hardest part is the drive there, so we wouldn’t worry too much about it. Just be sure to bring enough water and watch out for rainy weather – you don’t want to slip on the rocks!
How to get there: Drive south from Cairns to Gordonvale along Bruce Highway A1. Head to the Mulgrave River Bridge (Desmond Trannore Bridge) and after a few hundred metres turn right into Moss Road and follow the road to the carpark on your left.
10. Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef
Image credit: Ocean Safari
With over 3,000 reef systems that can be viewed from space, it’s no surprise that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. Those who desire to see the reefs up close can book a tour with Ocean Safari.
You’ll start the day off with a thrilling 25-minute speedboat ride to Daintree Coast at Cape Tribulation before settling down at the Mackay and Undine Reefs. From there, you’ll get to snorkel for 2 hours alongside sea turtles, eagle rays, and a variety of colourful tropical fish. Indoor aquariums could never.
All snorkelling equipment will be provided, and if you’re staying at Cape Tribulation you can also request complimentary bus transfers to the pick-up point.
- Adults: AUD163 (S$161)
- Children: AUD104 (S$103)
- Family: AUD485 (S$480)
Visit Cairns for an adventure in Australia
While most people know Cairns as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, there’s so much more to do in the city even while you’re on solid ground. Travellers can partake in a wide variety of adventurous things to do from skydiving to canyoning and even getting face-to-face with a crocodile. These activities can make hiking the Green Corridor seem like a walk in the park.
With travel resuming on the Australia VTL, it’s easy enough to take a jaunt Down Under, especially since Singapore Airlines is starting direct flights to Cairns from 28th March onwards. And once you’ve got your seats and hotels booked, remember to pack some athleisure wear, your favourite sunglasses, and a trusty pair of hiking shoes.
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