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What to do in Cairns

Cairns, Australia is a tropical, seaside city that’s located in the north of Queensland. Renowned for its ancient rainforests, natural wonders and year-round warm weather, the city draws in tourists from all over Australia and the world. Whether you’re planning to livestudy or holiday in Cairns, these are some of the best things to do while you’re there. 

Chase some waterfalls 

If you’re wondering what to do on a budget in Cairns, consider spending a day chasing waterfalls. Surrounded by acres of luscious rainforests, Cairns has an abundance of secluded waterfalls and swimming holes waiting to be explored. Just 20 minutes from the city, you will find Fairy Falls and the nearby Crystal Cascades water holes. Venture a little further south of the city and you’ll encounter the popular Josephine Falls. Plus, if you’re keen on spotting a platypus or two, don’t miss Millaa Millaa Falls.

Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef

In Cairns, Australia, scuba diving and snorkelling are top-tier activities – and there’s no better place to do them than the Great Barrier Reef! Getting into the water is the best way to get to know the reef and experience it in all its wonder. The world heritage site is easily accessible from Cairns on one of the many snorkelling tours that run throughout the year. Tour boats will drop you off at some of the most beautiful parts of the reef, where you can spend a few fun-filled hours gliding past colourful coral and meeting incredible sea creatures.  

Take a day trip to Kuranda 

Nestled into the mountainous rainforest region northwest of Cairns, the quirky little village of Kuranda is definitely worth exploring. With colourful market stalls, funky boutiques and health food cafes, there’s plenty to see. But the way you get there might be even cooler than the village itself. Wind through the rainforest’s ravines on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway ride there and enjoy a trip on the eco-friendly Skyrail Forest Cableway on the way back down. 

Go beach hopping 

It might not come as a surprise that one of the best things to do in the Northern Beaches of Cairns is hitting the beach. With crystal clear water, palm tree-lined bays and rainforest walks, these beaches are some of the most beautiful in the country. Check out the famous palms at Palm Cove and the nearby Ellis Beach, or visit the monthly markets at Holloways Beach. If you like the sound of dining on the sand, be sure to check out The Beach Shack at Kewarra Beach Resort & Spa. Complete with refreshing drinks, delicious food and live music performances, this is a must-visit spot in Cairns.

Visit the Cairns Botanic Gardens

Paying a visit to the Cairns Botanic Gardens is one of the best things to do in Cairns on a budget. Admission is free, so you won’t need to spend a single cent to explore this tropical oasis and learn about its flora and horticulture. Make a day of it by first attending a free guided walking tour before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the Cairns Botanic Gardens Precinct.

Get an adrenaline rush at Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome

The ultimate adventure activity, Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome is located in the centre of Cairns. There’s an exciting high ropes course, a wildlife park and a zipline all in one place. Whether you spend time with the cute koalas or go straight for the thrill-seeking zipline over the 4.5-metre estuarine crocodile, you won’t forget this experience any time soon! The best part? If you study in Cairns, you’re eligible for a 20% discount. 

Check out the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum

History buffs will enjoy spending an afternoon at the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum. Dedicated to armoured vehicles and artillery from World War II and post-war periods, the museum is the largest one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. With over 200 armoured vehicles, tanks and artillery to see, there is so much to see and learn here. You can even enjoy interactive experiences, such as target shooting (under instruction and supervision) in the shooting gallery or going on an armoured vehicle ride. A student ticket only costs $20, making it a great option for those wondering what to do in Cairns on a budget.

Explore Fitzroy Island 

If you’re looking to go on a short holiday in Cairns, Australia, then Fitzroy Island is the perfect place. This spectacular tropical island is located only 45 minutes away from Cairns, making it ideal for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Hop on the Fitzroy Flyer ferry and spend the day snorkelling around the coral reefs, exploring hiking trails and relaxing on secluded beaches. When you’re there, you can hire all of the water equipment that you need, including snorkelling gear, paddle skis, SUPS and coral viewing boards. If you’re hoping to stay overnight, there are campgrounds on the island, which are ideal for those on a student budget. Don’t have camping gear? No problem! There are sites with equipment available for hire; just be sure to book in advance to secure your place.

Learn more about living in Cairns at the links below:

A Guide to Launching a Career in Cairns

Discover Cairns in Pictures

Photos courtesy of Tourism & Events Queensland.