Cairns is perhaps best known as a fantastic gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, but it’s charms are not limited to this, as it’s brimming with scenic tropical beauty inland as well.

6 hours in... Cairns

The Great Barrier Reef is an essential part of any visit to Cairns, and they are many different ways to see it. Most visitors opt for a gentle boat ride out over the reef, offering the opportunity to go snorkelling or simply observe this underwater wonderland from the safety of their vessel. However, intrepid travellers may wish to book a scuba diving excursion to get up close and personal to the world’s largest coral formation. They are even hot air balloon tours for those who are looking for a breathtaking and unique perspective on this incredible reef.

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns

Home to an incredibly diverse and colourful array of marine life, the Great Barrier Reef is amongst one of Australia’s most iconic natural attractions. Comprising nearly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, covering approximately 130,000 square miles, this awe-inspiring reef can even be seen from space, and is the biggest living structure on Earth, made up of countless living organisms.

Supporting a wide variety of aquatic creatures, including a number of endemic and endangered species, from whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and rays, to over 1,500 types of fish and hundreds of sea birds, the Great Barrier Reef is ecologically unique, and a trip to see it in person is always an unforgettable experience.

Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef

Been before?

While the Great Barrier Reef often takes the limelight in Cairns, you don’t have to travel offshore to see incredible natural beauty. The city is surrounded by mountainous rainforest, much of which has been named as a World Heritage Area, and hundreds of tropical walking trails offer the best way to explore the surrounding scenery.

If you’re hoping to observe to some of Australia’s most iconic animals, then a trip to the Cairns Wildlife Dome is a great place to start. This all-weather exhibit is designed to imitate the rainforest experience, and as visitors navigate their way through the attractions, they’ll observe a host of colourful tropical birds flying around them without restraint, alongside many other native Australian creatures, including wallabies, koalas, crocodiles and pythons.

Can’t keep away?

In case you hadn’t already noticed, Cairns is all about natural beauty and ecological attractions. While the city centre is a charming place to explore, with many friendly local shops, bars and restaurants, the majority of travellers will want to stay outdoors, make the most of the beautiful climate and see the amazing sights that Cairns has to offer.

Some of the other lesser-known natural attractions to see on a cruise to Cairns include the stunning City Botanic Gardens, the serene Lake Placid and Centenary Lakes as well as a number of beautiful Conservational Parks.

Don’t even bother!

Unlike many other popular Australian destinations, Cairns doesn’t boast any beaches, so don’t arrive here expecting to find any sandy escapes. However, if you really want to find a stretch of sandy shoreline to relax on, the region’s Northern Beaches can be reached by bus.

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