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By Land, Sea and Air: The Best Things to do in Cairns, Australia

CairnsCairns, Australia is a magnificent fusion of sea, land and air. Its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest make it a fantastic destination for travellers from all over the world. There are plenty of things to do and after travelling to Cairns and being swept off my feet by its beauty, I’ve realised that the best way to get the most out of your trip to Cairns is by designating time for activities on land, in water and in the air.

Land

Cairns is nearby some of the most majestic rainforests in the world. Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest surviving rainforest and the largest continuous stretch of rainforest in Australia. Having said that, it only takes up about 0.1% of Australia’s land mass, yet is home to 30% of the country’s frog, reptile and marsupial population. Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site, in particular because some of the oldest species of plants grow here including 7 families of ancient fern. Daintree is also unique in that its dense tropic forest ends on the very edge of white sandy beaches leading to crystalline sea water. If you are interested in exploring this exotic and ancient rainforest, we offer a Cape Tribulation & Daintree Rainforest Tour From Cairns that takes visitors on a life changing trip through the primordial forest.

For those animal lovers out there, a trip to Cairns offers several opportunities to come into close contact with some of the strangest creatures in the world. The Cairns Zoo presents the unique opportunity to explore the zoo at night and meet its nocturnal residents. Late-night visitors are treated to a true Aussie barbeque and then led by torch through the dark zoo. It’s a spooky adventure that I would do again in a heartbeat. I even got to pet a koala, which made my night.

Petting a Koala

For those who want to see animals in the daylight, there are plenty of ways to do that too. The Rainforestation Nature Park is an excellent option because it combines exploration of the rainforest with Australia’s largest Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary. Rainforestation is part of a 100 acre World Heritage Park and offers visitors truly unique activities such as riding an army duck through murky rivers under the canopy of one of the most beautiful rainforests in the world. While I was there I held a koala, threw a boomerang (I ran away instead of trying to catch it when it came hurtling back at me) and tried my best to play the didgeridoo.

If you happen to have an unappeasable desire to see some crocodiles up close and personal, then head over to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure. At Hartley’s, you get the opportunity to see the terrifying head shake and death roll of some of the largest crocodiles you’ll ever see. You also get the chance to hold a crocodile (I opted to take a picture kissing the nose of a baby croc…of course, his mouth was rubber banded shut so it wasn’t the scary ordeal that it sounds like it could be.) You can also go to the Snake Show and discover some of the most deadly snakes in the world, including the Australian Brown Snake, one of which slithered by my foot while hiking in the outback on a separate trip to Australia. I highly recommend seeing one at the Snake Show instead… Crocodile

Sea

Underwater World
Of course, what Cairns is best known for is its location right on the Great Barrier Reef. Visitors from all over the world come to swim with the thousands of tropical fish, explore the islands just off the coast from Cairns and cultivate their tan in the hot Australian sun. The number one thing to do, at least in my opinion, is to explore the aquamarine depths of the reef. It is an entirely foreign aquatic world down there, just waiting to be explored. There are plenty of ways to get to the reef, one of which is by a Quicksilver Catamaran which boasts an impressive Underwater Observatory and acts a platform from which you can go snorkelling. The observatory is perfect for those wanting to see all of the brightly-coloured fish without getting wet (some of my friends staying on the boat and actually watched us swim up to the window of the observatory).

For those wanting to dive a bit deeper into the good ol’ ocean blue, diving expeditions are the ways to go. Whether you are diving at night, diving with sharks or just plain old diving, the experience is sure to be one you will never forget. Inky blue water below, turquoise water above and thousands of fish all around comprise the traditional dive. If you want to stay out on the water for longer than an afternoon, 3 and 4-day Diving and Marine Life Cruises are available. They are essentially aquatic hotels that allow you to get the most out what is sure to be a surreal diving experience. Boat

If you are simply looking for a romantic and relaxed time on the water, Cairns is the perfect place to be. There are a number of Evening Dinner Cruises that are perfect for a dreamy night with your beloved. Gaze at the mangroves that line the water as you sip on champagne, let the delicious food and gentle rocking of the boat lull you into contentment and gaze at the stars in the arms of your sweetie on the deck. It certainly will be a delightful evening not soon forgotten.

Of course, not all of the things to do in Cairns are stress-free. Thrill seekers can get their adrenaline pumping on a Tully River Rafting Excursion. The tour takes you on an incredibly fun white water rafting excursion through the rainforest. It’s led by expert guides and concludes with a delicious meal cooked on the ‘barbie’.

Air

Who doesn’t dream about flying every once in awhile? To be honest, I can’t imagine a prettier place to fly over than the emerald jungles and hypnotic turquoise waters of Cairns.

Plane

Now, there are two main ways of seeing Cairns from above. The first is with a Scenic Flight that takes you from the wild rainforests to the white cays and aquamarine ocean. The flight will take you over the Great Dividing Range in the rainforest near Cairns. You may feel like you are flying through a scene from Jurassic Park (I know I did). The rainforests really do look as ancient as they are. From the sky above the rainforest, you will travel to the coast. It is a surreal experience, looking out at the reef from your plane and seeing the shimmering colours of the coral refracted by the water above them. For those who, after seeing the water, need to be in the water, there are also flights that will then stop and allow you to go Snorkelling at Sandy Cay.

Another, more leisurely way to explore the sky space above Cairns is via Hot Air Balloon . Of course, in true Aussie fashion, the balloon flight isn’t entirely relaxed. While up in the balloon, you will get to experience a balloon chase, which is essentially exactly what it sounds like: Your balloon will chase another balloon across wide open country and vice versa. It’s a very fun time and not stressful in the slightest, but it does add a bit of pace to the otherwise lovely, leisurely and scenic flight.

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