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Young man and women sitting on beach in front of Apollo rental campervan

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: AU Blog

10 things to see and do in Cairns.

Cairns, located in the heart of Tropical North Queensland, is a destination that offers a wide range of activities and attractions, perfect for a road trip holiday. With something for everyone in this area, we thought we’d put together a list of our top 10 things to see and do in Cairns to make your travel itinerary planning all the easier. With Apollo, you’ll also have the ease of picking up your camper from the Cairns Apollo branch, and will have a range of campervans to choose from to suit your needs. So read on, get inspired and start planning your Cairns road trip today!

What is Cairns best known for

Cairns is a city that is best known for its natural experiences like picturesque beaches, fresh-water swimming holes, incredible snorkelling, diving and cascading waterfalls. There are so many wonderful Cairns attractions to enjoy, but two of the most popular include the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. These two places attract visitors from around the world and are known as incredible natural wonders, making them a must-visit when in and around the area. With so many things to do for families, foodies, adrenaline seekers and adventure lovers, we’re sure a road trip in Cairns will be one you never forget.


When to visit Cairns

The best time to visit Cairns is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. During this time, the weather is less humid, and temperatures are still warm, making it an ideal time to visit. However, this is also the peak travel time, so expect larger crowds and higher prices on accommodation and activities. 

The wet season in Cairns runs from November to March. During this time, there is more rain and humidity, but the rainforest is lush, and waterfalls are at their best. If you want to avoid the crowds, there is still plenty to do in the wet season, just make sure to pack your rainy weather gear! 

When planning your trip to Cairns, it's important to consider the activities that you want to put on your travel itinerary so you can get a better idea of when to visit. For example, whale watching is best between July and August, while diving and snorkelling are best between September and December. All in all, no matter what time of year you visit, we’re sure you’re going to have a great road trip in Cairns.


Where to stay in Cairns

There are so many great family-friendly campsites and holiday parks in Queensland, and Cairns is definitely home to some of them.


Cairns Holiday Park

The Cairns Holiday Park is located just a few minutes' drive from the city, and is a great place to stay for families and those travelling on a budget. The park offers powered and unpowered sites, as well as great facilities including a swimming pool, BBQ area, camp kitchen, and laundry facilities. Nearby you can discover some great attractions including the Cairns Botanic Gardens, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.


Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park

Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park is another great option to stay near the heart of Cairns and offers a peaceful and picturesque place to use as your base when exploring the area. You’ll have the choice of powered and unpowered sites, as well as great facilities including a swimming pool, BBQ area, camp kitchen, and laundry facilities. The holiday park is situated in the foothills of the Barron Gorge National Park and is surrounded by lush rainforest. One of the highlights of this park is its location, which is close to several stunning waterfalls and swimming holes, including Crystal Cascades and Stoney Creek.

Image: Tourism Events and Queensland


10 things to see and do in Cairns

1. Try Helmet Diving

If you want to experience the Great Barrier Reef in a unique and unforgettable way, then you’re going to want to try helmet diving with The Reef Magic Pontoon. This unique Cairns activity allows you to walk on the ocean floor while wearing a helmet that provides air. You’ll get to see and feel how life underwater is, in crystal clear water and surrounded by the beauty and wildlife that lives on the reef.

2.  See turtles on a kayak trip

Take a kayak tour through the beautiful waters of Cairns and see some of the area's most stunning marine life, including turtles. Pacific Watersports is a great Cairns attraction that offers kayaking tours that take you through the waters surrounding Fitzroy Island, where you can see green turtles in their natural habitat. A fantastic thing to do in Cairns when on a campervan road trip.

3. Enjoy the outback hot springs

For a true outback experience to add to your road trip travel itinerary, then the outback hot springs are a must. The Talaroo hot springs are located four and a half hours' drive from Cairns on the unmissable Savannah Way, a very scenic drive that gives you a glimpse of the Australian outback.

4. Visit the Butterfly Sanctuary

The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is next on our list, and for good reason. This place is the largest butterfly aviary in the Southern Hemisphere and is home to over 1,200 butterflies. Located in Kuranda, just a short distance from the heart of Cairns, this attraction is a must-visit for anyone on a road trip adventure and interested in nature and wildlife.

5. Take a train ride through the Rainforest 

Take a train ride through the Rainforest on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This train winds its way through tunnels and over bridges, providing awe-inspiring views of waterfalls, the Barron Gorge, and the surrounding rainforest. This is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Cairns on a road trip in a campervan or motorhome.

6. Visit a large bird aviary

Nature lovers are going to want to visit Birdworld Kuranda, a bird aviary located in the picturesque village of Kuranda. It is home to over 60 native bird species where you can hand-feed the birds and have your photos taken with them. This is a great activity for anyone seeking a family-friendly thing to do in Cairns.

7. Get your adrenaline pumping on the Giant Jungle Swing

For those who like to get their adrenaline pumping and looking for a great Cairns tourist attraction, then a visit to the Giant Jungle Swing is a must. The Giant Jungle Swing is a thrilling ride that takes you through the rainforest and provides amazing views of the surrounding landscape. Located in Smithfield, just a short drive from Cairns, this activity is perfect for adventure seekers on a road trip in Cairns.

8. Try the local delicacies at Dundee restaurant

Foodies and adventurous souls, who are up for something a little different, will love this best thing to do in Cairns. Dundee's Waterfront Dining is a popular seafood restaurant that serves a range of local delicacies, including crocodiles, kangaroo, and locally caught Barramundi. Located on the Cairns waterfront, this restaurant is a great spot for lunch or dinner and is a must-add to your Australian travel itinerary.

9.  See the Aboriginal cave art

A cultural experience is will add a special element to your Cairns road trip. See the Aboriginal cave art at the Chillagoe Caves. This is a limestone cave system located in Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park, just a few hours' drive from Cairns. Explore the historic mining site and view Aboriginal cave art that is over 1,000 years old. An unforgettable Cairns road trip experience.

10. Take a ride in an armoured tank

On the list of best thing to do in Cairns, a ride in an armoured tank is quite unique. The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum is located in Cairns and is home to a range of military vehicles, including tanks and armoured personnel carriers. This is such a great way to get to know the history of the area and also experience a ride in an armoured tank.

Image: Tourism Events and Queensland


See the best of Cairns with Apollo

These are our top 10 things to do in Cairns on a road trip. With its stunning natural beauty and wide range of activities, there is something for everyone on a campervan road trip to enjoy. If you can’t wait to get out there and start experiencing these Cairns activities and attractions for yourself, then book your campervan hire online today.

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