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Day Trips from Cairns

Cairns is a great beach town in the tropical north of Queensland that is just a cool place to chill out. What’s cooler, however, is the fact that it is also surrounded by heaps of amazing sites and wonders all within a day’s reach. Because of this, you’re never left without anything to do when you plant yourself in this town for a holiday. Here are but a few of the activities you can enjoy as day trips from Cairns:


The Great Barrier Reef

fish in reefIf you’re going to Cairns, you should already know that the Great Barrier Reef is just a hop, skip and a jump away. But, in case you were wondering – yes, Cairns is a great hub city for a reef adventure. I took a reef cruise when I was there, and that took up most of the day, included a fantastic buffet lunch, and gave plenty of time for snorkeling, diving or just relaxing in the meantime. The choice for this day trip can actually be a little overwhelming since there are so many options, but no matter what, you’re sure to not be disappointed.



Kuranda is a small rainforest town about 30 minutes to the northwest of Cairns. It is known for being a nice little getaway and a stop for nature and relaxation. Here you can enjoy the Butterfly Sanctuary, nature walks and the beautiful Barron Falls. Getting there is also a treat, especially if you take the scenic railway or skyrail to/from Cairns!

You can read more about this “village in the rainforest” by visiting their official website.


Port Douglas

captain cook highway viewPort Douglas is a tropical holiday town an hour north of Cairns that is tucked away in lush rainforest. The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas itself, if you are renting a car or campervan, is worth heading north on its own. Here you can laze away the days on the beach, or spend your time getting closer to nature. I recommend a stop at the Wildlife Habitat for a nice Breakfast with the Birds.


Cape Tribulation

Getting to Cape Tribulation is half the fun in my opinion. You can do it in a day from Cairns if you are determined, but it is actually a little more relaxing if starting from Port Douglas (see my self-drive tour to Cape Tribulation). Along the way, you’ll experience some of the most beautiful driving scenery ever, but do be careful around those jungle-encased narrow roads as cassowaries might be in the way.


Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge is part of the Daintree Rainforest, which is a must-see for any Australia tourist. Getting there only takes about 1.5 hours when starting from Cairns (30 minutes north of Port Douglas), so if you bring a picnic and your swimmers, you can be right for most of the day. Here you can experience some light rainforest treks or pop into a nice swimming hole.


Granite Gorge

Getting to Granite Gorge is best done by car as I’m pretty sure no buses head out that way. Located just a few kilometers outside of Mareeba to the west, Granite Gorge is a nature park getaway you must experience. Within a few minutes of arriving, I was holding a chicken and taking photos of rock wallabies. Bring your hiking shoes because the rock boulder paths are fun to climb through.


Mission Beach

cassowaryIt takes a little over 2 hours to get to Mission Beach by bus from Cairns, but this home of the cassowary is a cool beach town to unwind at for the day. The town itself is quite small, but the beautiful beach brings plenty of things to keep you busy from kayaking to lounging around. Dunk Island is also a nice little stop for a change of scenery, or you can simply enjoy it in the scenery from the mainland.


More Ideas

If any of these sound like a great place to visit, why not have a quick look at cheap Cairns flights? It only takes a second and then you can finally stop wondering if you can ever make it there.