Travel Guide

5 day guide to Cairns

By Chloe · June 2023 · 4 min read

Australia’s most popular tropical getaway destination, Cairns owes a huge part of its popularity to its proximity to the wondrous Great Barrier Reef as well as a wide array of adventure activities.

While it doesn’t hurt having a Natural Wonder of the World on your doorstep, it is far from the only attraction that Cairns has to offer – a renowned adventure destination, Cairns and its surroundings are full of activities to take part in that range from the relaxing to the adrenaline-pumping.

From reef tours to bungy jumping, Cairns is bursting at the seams with things to do, which makes planning an itinerary for a short trip a difficult process, especially as most people obviously want to get the most out of their money’s worth. In response to frequent requests from our customers, Experience Oz has put together some suggested Cairns itineraries for holidays for people staying for lengths of 2, 3, 4 and 5 days.

We hope that these suggestions will help the first-time visitor to formulate an efficient sightseeing plan that assures no essential sight is left unseen and that your time in Cairns is maximised to the fullest!

Day 1: Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Snorkel Cruise: As the main drawcard to Cairns for many people, the Great Barrier Reef is an essential experience while in the region and a cruise is one of the best ways to get a proper taste of it.

With a cruise, you’ll depart from Cairns aboard a catamaran and head to the reef’s outer reaches to enjoy activities such as snorkelling, swimming and marine viewing of the incredible array of fish and coral which popular the azure blue, crystal clear waters of this natural wonder.

Cruise itineraries vary in length and cost, however, to get the most out of your experience a full day tour – that takes you to the clearer, wildlife-filled waters of the Outer Great Barrier Reef – comes highly recommended due to the time requirement.

Day 2: Explore Kuranda

Kuranda Day Tour: Kuranda is a village nestled in the mountaintop rainforest just to the west of Cairns city itself, and is an enchanting destination that attracts a huge number of visitors each year.

Accessible by train, cableway or road, this charming ‘Village in the Rainforest’ offers a bevvy of tropical delights that range from the traditional appeal of the renowned Kuranda Markets to the sophistication of roadside cafes and restaurants – plus the impressive spectacle provided by a ride on its famed Skyrail Cableway.

Day 3: Head to Green Island

Green Island Day Trip: One of the unique highlights of the Great Barrier Reef, Green Island is an astoundingly beautiful, 6000-year-old coral cay with a distinctive reef and rainforest environment combination that is home to over 120 native plant species and native birds.

A Green Island tour commonly includes both snorkelling and a glass-bottom boat tour that lets you fully experience the visual and aquatic wonders of this iconic Great Barrier Reef island.

Day 4: Spend the day at Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation Day Trip – The Daintree River region, situated just north of Cairns, contains some of the most spectacular tropical rainforest accessible to visitors in all of Australia.

Tours are available that will let you board a luxury coach or 4WD vehicle and embark on an unforgettable rainforest experience into the heart of this ancient destination where primitive plants, animals and indigenous culture still thrive. A rare opportunity to enter a World Heritage-protected nature region, Cape Tribulation is an unmissable stop on any Cairns itinerary.

Day 5: Go hot air ballooning, bungee jumping, or to Flames of the Forest (Or why not try them all?)

Ballooning with Hot Air / AJ Hackett Bungee / Flames of the Forest: Once you’ve had your fill of the natural features of Cairns – and believe us, there are plenty – it’s time to take part in some of the many activities that are available in this adventure wonderland.

Two of the most popular Cairns activities are, without a doubt, hot air ballooning and bungy jumping, and the scenery around Cairns makes both of them an unforgettable experience. The wonder, serenity and beauty of the tropical Australian bush form an amazing spectacular when viewed from several thousand feet above, and hot air ballooning over the glorious gum trees and mountain ranges of the Australian landscape is truly stunning.

In addition, if you are looking for further ideas on activities, attractions and other things to do in Cairns, don’t hesitate to check out our main Cairns region section for an extended catalogue of things to do!

Experience Oz

We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of Country and their connections and continuous care for the skies, lands and waterways throughout Australia.