photo of the daintree river

Cairns may be famous for its beautiful Queensland beaches, but if you step back from the sparkling sand you’ll see a completely new side to Cairns. Here are some suggestions for exploring what else Cairns has to offer.

Daintree National Park

Largely regarded as one of the most spectacular rainforests in the world, a visit to Cairns is not complete without a trip to Daintree National Park. About 1.5 hours drive from Cairns, the park is renowned for its diverse range of native plant and animal species. You’ll also be amazed by the stunning waterfalls and glistening river.

The best part about a visit to Daintree National Park is that almost all of its sights are free – except maybe the gift shops which can be very tempting! Join a bird-watching tour, explore alone on foot or simply drive through the park.


Just a 40 minute drive from Cairns is the beautiful town of Kuranda. Surrounded by tropical rainforest and home to the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway, you’ll feel more like you’re in the Amazon than Queensland.

As well as exploring the natural wonders of the town, markets are a popular activity. There are several regular markets, including the Original Rainforest Markets and Heritage Markets where you can buy arts, crafts and locally grown produce 

Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands cover a vast area of the Great Dividing Range. The fertile plateau has made it ideal for vegetation and wildlife to thrive. Explore the region by joining a bush walk where you can take in the stunning scenery, breathtaking waterfalls and coffee plantations that it’s famous for.

Often referred to as the ‘deli of the tropics’, the Atherton Tablelands is the perfect destination for food-lovers. Indulge in locally-grown produce and award-winning wines.

Adventure activities

Love nature but want to see it in the fastest, most furious, fabulous way? The Cairns region is renowned for offering a huge range of adventure activities not for the faint hearted. Whether it’s kayaking down some rapids, jumping from cliffs, canyoning or bungy jumping, just a short drive from the Cairns coastline are plenty of activities to keep the thrill-seekers happy.

The famous A J Hackett Bungy – the world’s largest provider of bungy experiences – has a jump tower located in the heart of the rainforest about 20 minutes drive from Cairns. Imagine the view from up there!

If you want adventure on a slightly toned-down level, then why not try horse-riding, a hot balloon ride or even a helicopter ride?

Barron Gorge National Park

If you want to see amazing natural beauty – look no further than Barron Gorge national park. Just a short drive from Cairns and a popular stop-off point for the Kuranda Scenic Railway, Barron Gorge national park is home to a huge gorge that was created where the Barron River runs through. From the gorge falls the famous Barron Falls – an amazing 265m from top to bottom. Within the park you’ll find two other impressively large waterfalls – Stoney Creek Falls and Surprise Creek Falls.

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