Top 10 Tours in Cairns

Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns

Top 10 Tours in Cairns

Cairns is found in the heart of Tropical Far North Queensland and is one of the most visited backpacker hotspots Australia wide. Thanks to Cairns’s location it has amazing weather and is super warm all year round, this makes it perfect for visiting any time. The city itself is a bustling hub where you can swim in the pristine lagoon, shop to your heart’s content or eat at one of the many amazing restaurants. However, it’s what surrounds the city that gives backpackers year in year out reasons to keep visiting Cairns. Only a one hour boat trip from the city, the Great Barrier Reef is Cairns’ worst kept secret, making Cairns a must for those wanting to see the reef. Cairns is also the best place to access heaps of tropical rainforests, filled with Aboriginal culture and incredible indigenous wildlife, those wanting to soak in the real Australia look no further. Cairns is also the only spot in the world where two world heritage sites meet; “where the reef meets the rainforest!”

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With so many things to do and see in Cairns, here’s my top recommendations to help you add to that ever growing Australia bucket list:

The Great Barrier Reef

It goes without saying that a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an absolute must, it is the reason that Cairns was created after all! However with so many different ways to see the reef some will be better suited than others, depending on your experience and what kind of traveller you are. Here’s some of my favourites:

Best Tour For First Time SCUBA Divers: Island Diver

This is a small capacity (50 person) day trip to the reef perfect for snorkelers or people wanting to give scuba diving a go. Island Diver has exclusive access to Briggs Reef and Sudbury Reef giving an intimate experience with new friends as you explore the best these reefs have to offer without it being overcrowded. The water depth around these reefs is around 5 – 15 meters making it perfect for snorkelers, on a good day you can see all the way to the ocean floor. This is also a favourite for introductory divers. An introductory dive is a 10 meter fun dive where you do not need a qualification, Island Diver is great for this as you can walk with your feet touching the floor; an awesome experience for a new diver! To top it all off this boat because it is made for more your casual snorkellers and divers is very friendly on the old wallet, coming in much cheaper than lots of other reef options.

Have a look at Island Diver over on our sister website

For Certified Divers: TUSA DIVE

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Tusa is a small capacity (65 person) day trip to the reef, this one suited better for those with a PADI Open Water license. Tusa selects from a range of outer reef sites selected on the day based on clarity and abundance of wildlife and visits two sites on a day trip. Some of the sites reach depths of 18 meters making it a perfect option for those wanting to make use of their diving license. However if you’re a snorkeller looking for an awesome experience on the reef, this is still a brilliant boat for you.

Have a look on our website and find out how you can get a free scuba dive!

Learn to SCUBA dive:

Pro Dive – Liveaboard / Open Water & Advanced Courses

Pro Dive is the leading operator in liveaboard and PADI courses in Cairns. They have an exclusive array of outer reef sites right next to the continental shelf. The rule of thumb is the nearer you get to the continental shelf the more beautiful the reef gets, the higher abundance of animals and the fewer day trip boats you see. This experience is for those serious scuba divers out there. For those wanting to get their license this is an amazing option as you get your qualification living on the reef, although other boats do this this is the only one that does it on the edge of the continental shelf. Same goes for those who already have their license, sure you can dive the reef in one day, but it doesn’t compare to diving, eating and sleeping on the reef for three days with nothing in site other than reef and incredible wildlife. To sum it up, this is about as exclusive as a trip to the Great Barrier Reef trip gets.
Jump on our website to hear about our exclusive deals!

Skydive Cairns

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Cairns is an incredible place in Australia to throw yourself out a plane at 15,000ft! With its tropical climate and the proximity to world heritage listed sites, it is one of the best places in Oz to do a skydive. Fall at 200 kilometers an hour whilst you overlook The Great Barrier Reef and rainforests, this is one of the most picturesque skydives around.

Check out our online specials!

Bungy Jumping with AJ Hackett Cairns

Cairns is the only location in the whole of Australia where you can try the most character testing of adrenaline activities, bungy jumping! The AJ Hackett lookout boasts the highest viewing platform in Cairns at 140 meters, offering spectacular views of surrounding rainforests, overlooking Cairns out towards the reef. This is an essential for those adrenaline junkies out there. For those of you really wanting to push your limits then you should check out the jungle swing.
Have a look at our exclusive deals online!

Atherton Tablelands and Cape Tribulation

Cairns is surrounded by an array of gorgeous ecosystems and hidden beauties that are very unique to Cairns’ tropical climate, including some absolutely stunning rainforests and waterfalls. The highlights of these for me would be Daintree National Park which is home to the gorgeous Cape Tribulation, Kuranda and The Atherton Tablelands. With so many different ways to see these breathtaking locations, here’s my top picks for the best tours available.

Cape Tribulation: Uncle Brians Cape Tribbin’

Uncle Brian! What a guy! Uncle Brians tours are the best rated tours in the whole of Cairns on tripadvisor so you know they’re doing something right. You get picked up bright and early by your awesome tour guide and taken on a whirlwind tour of the best that Far North Tropical Queensland has to offer. You’ll visit the gorgeous town of Port Douglas and enjoy a walk along the beach and a dip. Cruise the Daintree River looking out for Australia’s most deadly residents, saltwater crocodiles. Travel through one of the oldest rainforests in the whole world keeping your eyes peeled for Cassowary, the animal time forgot. Take a walk a long Cape Tribulation Beach, the only spot in the world where two world heritage sites meet. You do all this with a massive smile on your face, Uncle Brian’s tour guides make sure you have the most fun and stay entertained and laughing every step of the way.

Hear about our awesome combo deals on our website

Atherton Tablelands: Fun Falls & Forest:

This trip takes you on an awesome day out on a tour of hidden waterfalls called the Atherton Tablelands waterfall circuit. On this fun filled day you whip round some of the most gorgeous waterfalls and watering holes in the whole of Australia. Recreate the famous hair flick from the shampoo adverts at Milla Milla Falls, a waterfall tucked away in the heart of lush rainforests. Slip down the natural waterslide of Josephine Falls, a perfectly smooth rock formation with flowing water cascading down it. Take a dip at Lake Eacham, one of the biggest lakes found around the Cairns area, home to a resident friendly freshwater croc, don’t worry he only eats fish. Again there’s a few companies who offer this but Uncle Brian’s are the best rated and it’s for good reason, it is widely considered the most fun way for backpackers to see the tablelands.

Read more about the Fun Falls and forest tour Here.

Kuranda, Skyrail & Scenic Railway

Nestled up in the hills surrounding Cairns is the little village of Kuranda, arty, alternative Kuranda is one of Cairns’ most popular day trips, and for good reason. This hippy haven swarms with backpackers soaking up the vibe, visiting animal sanctuaries and poking around its famous markets and souvenir shops, there’s so many different things to see and stuff to do up there. What makes it such an amazing day trip is the ways you get there and leave, the Skyrail and the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Head to Smithfield and hop on the Skyrail, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway spans 7.5kms over Australia’s pristine tropical rainforests. You’ll glide metres above the rainforest canopy before descending through the canopy layers and deep into the heart of the forest at Skyrail’s two rainforest mid-stations for the ultimate tropical rainforest experience. These views are absolutely spectacular. To get back to Cairns simply hop on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, running since 1891 this unique railway takes you on an amazing train ride through gorgeous rainforests, passing waterfalls and incredible lookouts. Whilst you take in the sites relax and learn about the history of this great railway line before it drops you back in the centre of Cairns. This is one of the first things I did when I came to Australia and I still consider it one of my most memorable. 

Have a look at Kuranda on our website

GSL Reef & Port Douglas Scenic Flight

Want to see the best bits of Cairns from a truly unique perspective? GSL’s one hour flight includes a bird’s eye view of Green Island, the Great Barrier Reef and North QLD coastline. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and the amazing contrast of colours is something that’s best experienced from the air. Fly overhead the tourist town of Port Douglas, and along the renowned North Queensland granting views that are absolutely sensational. An instagrammers dream this one. 

My final recommendation isn’t actually a tour or activity. With so many of them on offer I thought I would tell you about my favourite hostels to stay at in Cairns and try and help you find the best one for you.

Global Backpackers

Just opened at the start of July 2019 located opposite Cairns Esplanade lagoon, close to restaurants, nightlife, shopping and travel services, location does not get better. Boasting brand new facilities, bedrooms, bathrooms, travel desk and an awesome rooftop deck and lounge overlooking the Coral Sea.

Bounce Hostel

Renovated in 2018 Bounce is found slap bang in the middle of the bustling. Value value value. At Bounce you get a FREE hot breakfast, FREE gym access, FREE wifi, FREE bike hire, a brilliant choice for those budget conscious travellers out there. What better way to feel like you are on holiday than to relax around the pool, surrounded by palm trees and catching some rays. The pool area has everything you need to relax, with great sun loungers & bar next door.

Mad Monkey

Refurbished in May, 2018, Mad Monkey Backpackers Village offers guests access to a designer kitchen, modern bathrooms and there are new air-conditioners in every room. Free WiFi and free hot breakfast are included. You can work out in the fitness centre or hire a bicycle, free of charge. There is also an outdoor swimming pool and an outdoor bar. Mad Monkey Backpackers Village is only 800 metres from the bars and restaurants of Cairns Esplanade.