48 Hours in Cairns, Australia: 10 Cool Things To Absolutely Do

1. Explore the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder and a must-visit destination for any traveler in Cairns. This natural marvel stretches over 2,300 kilometers and is one of the seven wonders of the natural world. With its vibrant and diverse marine life, snorkeling or diving in the Great Barrier Reef provides an unparalleled experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a beginner snorkeler, there are plenty of options available to explore the reef. You can book a day trip or even a liveaboard experience to spend several days diving and snorkeling. Either way, be prepared to witness the breathtaking beauty of coral formations, colorful fish, and maybe even encounter manta rays or sea turtles. The Great Barrier Reef offers an unforgettable adventure that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Sources: https://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/

2. Discover the Daintree Rainforest

Just a short drive from Cairns, the Daintree Rainforest is the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. Spanning over 1,200 square kilometers, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a biodiverse haven filled with unique flora and fauna. Exploring the Daintree Rainforest is like stepping into another world.

You can embark on guided jungle walks, take a thrilling zip line tour through the treetops, or even go horseback riding to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this ancient rainforest. Don’t forget to visit Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the stunning beaches of the Coral Sea. From breathtaking panoramic views to rare wildlife encounters, the Daintree Rainforest promises an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Sources: https://www.enjoyaustralia.com/cairns-attractions/daintree-rainforest

3. Take a Dip in the Crystal Cascades

Escape the heat and embrace the cool waters of the Crystal Cascades, a series of freshwater swimming holes nestled within lush rainforest. Located only a short drive from Cairns, this hidden gem offers a serene and refreshing escape.

As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be enchanted by the beauty of cascading waterfalls, natural rock slides, and tranquil pools. You can take a leisurely swim, relax on the smooth granite rocks, or even explore the surrounding walking trails. The Crystal Cascades is a picture-perfect spot for a refreshing dip and a picnic amidst nature’s beauty.

Sources: https://www.cairnsattractions.com.au/crystal-cascades.htm

4. Visit the Cairns Esplanade

No trip to Cairns is complete without a visit to the Cairns Esplanade, a picturesque waterfront area buzzing with activity and lined with palm trees. This vibrant promenade is the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy the tropical atmosphere.

Take a leisurely walk along the Esplanade Boardwalk to admire the stunning views of the Coral Sea, or rent a bicycle and explore the area at your own pace. The Cairns Lagoon, a large saltwater swimming pool overlooking the ocean, is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to cool off and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. With its array of cafés, restaurants, and shops, the Cairns Esplanade is also an excellent place for dining and shopping.

Sources: https://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/esplanade

5. Venture into the Kuranda Rainforest

A trip to Cairns wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the charming village of Kuranda, nestled amidst the pristine rainforest. Accessible by scenic railway or cableway, this unique rainforest village offers a plethora of attractions and experiences.

Explore the world-famous Kuranda Markets, where you can find unique handmade crafts, souvenirs, and local produce. Immerse yourself in indigenous culture by visiting the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, where you can learn about the traditions, music, and dance of the local Aboriginal people. For a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest, take a breathtaking skywalk through the treetops at the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

With its picturesque surroundings, vibrant markets, and cultural experiences, Kuranda is the perfect day trip destination to dive into the heart of the Australian rainforest.

Sources: https://www.kuranda.org/

6. Discover the Cairns Botanic Gardens

For nature lovers and gardening enthusiasts, a visit to the Cairns Botanic Gardens is a must-do in Cairns. Located only a short drive from the city center, this tropical paradise boasts an impressive selection of flora from both Australia and other tropical regions around the world.

Stroll through the enchanting Flecker Gardens, where you’ll encounter a variety of themed gardens, including an Aboriginal Plant Use Garden, an Orchid House, and even a tropical fruit orchard. Learn about the local flora and fauna at the Visitors Centre or enjoy a peaceful picnic amidst the tranquil surroundings.

The Cairns Botanic Gardens is a botanical wonderland that provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it a perfect destination for relaxation and inspiration.

Sources: https://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/facilities-sport-leisure/botanic

7. Sample Local Cuisine at Rusty’s Market

Rusty’s Market is a vibrant and bustling marketplace that offers a true taste of Cairns. Located in the heart of the city, this local institution is a food lover’s paradise and an excellent place to immerse yourself in the flavors of the region.

Take a stroll through countless stalls selling tropical fruits, vibrant vegetables, artisanal goods, and exotic spices. Indulge in mouth-watering street food, freshly brewed coffee, and delicious pastries. Rusty’s Market is not only a great place to sample local produce but also an excellent opportunity to soak up the vibrant atmosphere and chat with the friendly local vendors.

Sources: https://www.rustysmarkets.com.au/

8. Get Adventurous with White Water Rafting

If adventure is what you seek, then white water rafting in Cairns is an activity not to be missed. The region offers several rivers with rapids suitable for different skill levels, providing adrenaline-pumping experiences for thrill-seekers.

You can choose to tackle the wild rapids of the Tully River or the Barron River, both of which guarantee an unforgettable adventure. Rafting down these pristine waters offers a unique perspective of the surrounding rainforests and provides an exhilarating rush. Whether you’re a seasoned rafter or a first-timer, there are options available for everyone to experience this thrilling water sport.

Sources: https://www.visitcairns.com.au/white-water-rafting

9. Delve into the History at Cairns Museum

Step back in time and explore the fascinating history of Cairns at the Cairns Museum. Housed in a beautifully restored heritage building, this museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of the region.

From the diverse Aboriginal heritage to the early European settlements and the development of the tourism industry, the Cairns Museum offers an in-depth insight into the city’s past. Discover photographs and artifacts that bring the stories of the region to life, and gain a deeper understanding of the people and events that shaped Cairns into what it is today.

Sources: https://www.cairnsmuseum.org.au/

10. Soak in the Sunset at Palm Cove

Wind down your 48 hours in Cairns with an idyllic beach sunset at Palm Cove. Located just a short drive north of Cairns, this picture-perfect beach is known for its palm tree-lined shores and tranquil ambiance.

Find a cozy spot on the beach, unwind on the soft sand, and gaze at the sublime colors painting the sky as the sun dips below the horizon. After witnessing the mesmerizing sunset, enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants offering a range of cuisines to suit all tastes. Palm Cove provides the perfect setting for relaxation and tranquility, putting an exquisite end to an adventure-filled 48 hours in Cairns.

Sources: https://www.palmcoveaustralia.com/

In just 48 hours, Cairns offers an abundance of incredible experiences and adventures. From exploring the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest to indulging in local markets and relaxing on pristine beaches, this tropical paradise has something for everyone. So pack your bags, put on your adventure hat, and prepare for an unforgettable journey in Cairns, Australia!