Cairns is an intrepid traveller’s paradise. Located in tropical North Queensland, this little city is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, providing the perfect venue for adventure activities.
To the east, the coral sea stretches out to the horizon, where the Great Barrier Reef provides amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities.
To the west, rainforest covered mountains provide a nature lover’s paradise, with excellent hiking trails, raging rivers for rafting and more.
With so much on offer, it is no wonder that Cairns is a popular place for those seeking adventure. If you’re an adventure lover, try out these action-packed adventure activities!
1. Diving on the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world and is an absolute bucket list item for all the divers out there. Even if you haven’t tried scuba diving before, the Great Barrier Reef would be a great place to start.
Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and there are lots of excellent boat tours that you can choose from to get out in the water and explore this amazing reef system and the abundance of marine life that live here.
Most tours offer diving and snorkelling opportunities at different parts of the reef, with plenty of one day options. If you’re really into your diving, join one of the multiday liveaboard tours where you can really get the most out of your reef diving experience.
2. Hiking in Cairns
If you want to see the rainforest, there is no better way than exploring it by foot.
There are some truly amazing hikes around Cairns, from relaxing strolls through the rainforest, to challenging multiday walks and mountain climbs. You can even combine your trip to the reef with a hike.
Fitzroy Island has an excellent hike that takes you from the sandy tropical beach, through the rainforest to the summit of the island for stunning views.
For a short but dramatic walk near Cairns, the Barron Gorge Walk is a good choice, ending with a view of the spectacular Barron Falls, which is most impressive after heavy rain.
Another beautiful waterfall to hike to is Josephine Falls to the south of Cairns, which you can combine with a challenging ascent of Mount Bartle Frere, the highest peak in Queensland. Nearby, the pointed peak of Walsh’s Pyramid is a shorter, but still exhausting mountain climb.
To the north of Cairns, Mossman Gorge provides some stunning rainforest scenery with boulder strewn streams and rivers in the ancient forest of Daintree National Park. These are just a few of the amazing hikes you can enjoy around Cairns.
3. Skydiving in Cairns
If you’re thinking of going skydiving for the first time, it would be hard to find a better destination than Cairns.
While jumping out of a perfectly good airplane might sound crazy, the unique view of the region you get to enjoy, along with the extreme adrenaline rush, makes it all worth it.
What makes skydiving in Cairns unique is that you can enjoy amazing views of the rainforest, the ocean and beaches, as well as the Great Barrier Reef, all from the one vantage point.
There are some great skydiving packages available, from first timer tandem dives to solo certified skydives.
4. Bungy Jumping in Cairns
While we’re talking about getting out of your comfort zone and jumping from perfectly safe positions, why not try out some bungy jumping while you’re in Cairns?
The AJ Hackett Bungy Tower is the only one in Australia, towering 50 metres above the rainforest floor just 20 minutes from Cairns. Enjoy views out over the rainforest and to the sea before launching yourself off the platform to free fall towards the pond at the bottom, with the safety of the bungy cord bouncing you back up. This is an adrenaline rush at its best.
The bungy tower is also home to the Minjin Swing, the fastest jungle swing in the world, reaching speeds of 120 kilometres per hour as you zoom down to the forest floor.
5. White Water Rafting in Cairns
The mountains around Cairns and high rainfall mean that there are some excellent rivers for white water rafting and kayaking.
There are several tour operators available with trips starting from half day rafting tours on the Barron River near Cairns.
For the ultimate rafting experience, join a tour for rafting on the Johnston River in Tully. This river is considered the best rafting river in Australia with a good selection of rapids.
These are full day rafting trips ranging from beginner’s rafting to extreme rafting. Whatever your level of experience, white water rafting is definitely something to put on your to-do list in Cairns.
6. Canyoning in Cairns
Another fun way to experience Cairns’ rainforest waterways is canyoning. This unique extreme sport has you exploring waterfalls, waterways and canyons through a variety of climbing, abseiling, sliding and swimming.
In Cairns, there is an excellent canyoning course at Crystal Cascades. This beautiful waterfall is well worth checking out in its own right, but by doing the canyoning course you get to explore the waterfall’s upper reaches, well beyond the public access points.
You’ll find yourself abseiling, climbing, jumping, sliding and even ziplining on this action-packed course. Don your harness and helmet and explore the beautiful Crystal Cascades. I’ve done canyoning in Philippines, and I must say it really is fun going through the different obstacles!
7. Mountain Biking in Cairns
Cairns naturally has huge potential for mountain bike trails and over the years it has grown to become one of the top spots for mountain biking in Australia, even hosting some world events here. There are some excellent trails available in several spots, including downhill and cross country runs.
The Smithfield Mountain Bike Park is located just out of Cairns near the Bungy Platform, and provides world class trails where you can hire bikes, bring your own or even join a tour. Trails suit all abilities with several runs that are designed for the world stage.
If you love your mountain biking, this is the place to go.
8. Helifishing in Cairns
If you’re into your fishing, this could just be the ultimate experience for you.
Helifishing is an extreme form of fishing where you travel by helicopter to hard to reach or out of the way locations for possibly the best fishing experience you can get.
There are lots of incredibly beautiful, but remote fishing spots around Cairns and this is the way to get out and explore them. Add to this the unique experience of travelling by helicopter, and the amazing views you get from up in the air, and you have yourself a truly memorable experience.
Cairns truly is an adventure lover’s paradise. Book yourself some accommodation in Cairns and enjoy these action-packed adventure activities and more when you visit Cairns!