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Best things to do in Cairns

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Where in the world: South Pacific  /  Australia  /  Queensland  /  Cairns Region  /  Cairns
You'll find that many things to do in Cairns revolve around sandy beaches and the scenic landscapes of the town's surroundings. You can embark on a scuba and snorkeling adventure to see the pristine beauty of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. You can also test your courage by setting off on skydiving and shark-diving expeditions, or sign up for challenging river rafting and tubing tours. If you prefer a peaceful vacation, take a walk down Esplanade Boardwalk to admire the views of Trinity Inlet and numerous bird species inhabiting the area.

Cairns is best known for its Scuba & Snorkeling, Water Sports, and Hiking Trails.

Top 15 things to do in Cairns

1. Scuba & Snorkeling

Cross snorkeling or diving the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef off your bucket list by joining a guided tour from Cairns. With a variety of tours available, you can easily find an option that works within your schedule and budget--you can also upgrade to include some additional ventures, such as helicopter flying over the reef, taking scuba diving courses, visiting Green Island, riding Kuranda Scenic Railway, or cruising down the Daintree River. Depending on the combination of activities, these tours can last from 4 hours to 3 days.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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2. Scuba & Snorkeling, Port Douglas

Get to know the secrets of the marine life-rich Great Barrier Reef on a scuba or snorkeling tour from Port Douglas. Accompanied by an expert marine biologist as your guide, you will have a chance to explore and perfect your skills, while learning about the region's varied underwater ecosystems. Whether you choose to snorkel and dive, or explore by a semi-submersible submarine or underwater observatory, colorful coral gardens and friendly sea turtles will be there to greet you. Some tours may have age restrictions--most last a full day, but you can also choose a multi-day option with additional activities.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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4. Esplanade Boardwalk

Esplanade Boardwalk provides a beautiful setting for a stroll, jog, or bike ride. Along the 800 m (0.5 mi) boardwalk, take in views of Trinity Inlet and observe the wide range of seabirds that make their homes on the mudflats.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Nature & Wildlife Tours

Discover the versatile World Heritage-listed landscapes surrounding Cairns on a nature and wildlife tour. Your expert guide will make sure you feel comfortable and safe throughout the entire journey, allowing for plenty of chances to walk or ride through the world's oldest rainforest, cruise around lush lagoons and down pristine rivers lined with mangroves, ride a scenic railway, pet koalas and kangaroos, and much more. A range of flexible-duration tours caters to every type of traveler--depending on your schedule, budget, and preferences, you can spend as little as 4 hours on this activity, or as long as several days.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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7. Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, Wangetti

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures brings you to a crocodile paradise about 40 minutes north of Cairns. Walk along 2.1 km (1.3 mi) of timber boardwalks and pathways through woodlands and rainforest while spotting crocodiles, turtles, lizards, tropical birds, and more. Take a boat cruise of Hartley's Lagoon, the best area to observe crocodiles. Listen to a presentation to learn about Australian wildlife, including snakes, beautiful cassowary birds, and koalas. If you get hungry watching the crocodiles feed, stop in at Lilies Restaurant for a snack.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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9. Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

A favorite local getaway at dusk and dawn, Four Mile Beach features a long stretch of golden sand gently lapped by clear water and lined with swaying palms. Feel the touch of a cool breeze while strolling with the locals along the beach that curves softly at its ends. Tourists mostly spend their time swimming, tanning, or dozing off under the endless row of palm trees. The unspoiled beach also offers plenty of entertainment for water-sports enthusiasts, such as kitesurfing, stand-up paddling, kayaking, and parasailing.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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10. Spas, Palm Cove

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Boat Tours & Water Sports, Port Douglas

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Helicopter Tours

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Spas

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. Botanical Gardens

It makes sense to learn about tropical plants while you're in the tropics, so head to Botanical Gardens to discover the flora of the warm, wet regions of Australia and elsewhere. Discover how Aborigines use plants for food, medicine, and clothing. Check out the collection of towering bamboo, or bird-watch around the lake. Take a stroll on the Rainforest Boardwalk to transport yourself to coastal Cairns before human settlement.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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