With the world’s oldest tropical rainforest and World-Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef on its doorstep, it’s easy to see why Cairns is dubbed the adventure capital of Australia.
Just like flipping the pages of a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novel, Cairns provides the perfect basecamp to decide how you’re going to explore the region, whether it be from the clouds, below the water’s surface or through the undergrowth of the rainforest.
Whether you’re a thrill–seeker or you prefer to experience the region at a slower pace, we’ve got you covered with five adventures from Experience Co to choose in Tropical North Queensland.
To get the heart pumping: Go skydiving
For an adventure served with views of the Great Barrier Reef from up to 15,000 feet high, strap in for a tandem skydive. While the 15,000-ft skydive includes a 60–second freefall reaching up to 220km/hour, there’s plenty of time to appreciate the rainforest, reef and beach views once the parachute opens.
If you want to experience the thrill of skydiving but the height is a little daunting, choose the 7,500 feet tandem skydive option, which will have you gliding directly over Cairns or Mission Beach in a micro-skydive format. With early morning skydives available – start your day from above to experience a bird’s eye view of sunrise over Tropical North Queensland.
To get on tropical time: Take an island day trip
With over 600 islands in the Great Barrier Reef, it would be remiss to come this far and not hop across from the mainland to explore one of them. Put Fitzroy Island on your itinerary and in 45 minutes you can be dipping your toe in the crystal-clear waters or exploring the lush tropical rainforest that makes up Fitzroy Island National Park.
Enjoy up to six hours of adventure time on the island, don a snorkel, book a glass-bottom boat cruise or hire a paddleboard to make the most of this aquatic playground. Take your adventure to the next level and book a snorkelling tour, where you can explore the diverse marine life and coral species from Shark Fin Bay and other locations around the island.
For a fuss free-adventure, pre-order a freshly made wrap or sandwich to enjoy under the shade of the trees. Step it out along one of the bush tracks to walk off lunch before heading back in the water – from the 700m return Secret Garden track through the island’s lush jungle foliage to the 4km return hike to the summit and lighthouse. Short on time? Book the half-day tour to enjoy over two hours splashing about on Fitzroy Island, departing at 11am or 2pm.
Learn more about what you can experience on the island, here.
For an underwater adventure: Book a reef tour
No trip to Cairns is complete with an adventure to the Great Barrier Reef, and Reef Magic Cruises can get you there. Board the 90-minute catamaran commute to the outer-reef location, where you’ll find coral and diverse marine life waiting to be explored from the all-weather pontoon known as Marine World.
Go underwater with a snorkel mask or SeaTREK dive helmet, or travel at SEABOB speed (read: underwater scooter) as you explore the sheltered coral lagoon and surrounding reef. While most of the action happens below the water’s surface, add a bird’s eye view adventure with a 10-minute scenic flight to spot turtles and manta rays from 3,000-ft in the air.
For more time soaking in the views from above, travel in style and book a helicopter transfer to Marine World – you’ll not only cut your commute in half but enjoy an extra 10 minutes of panoramic reef views. With five hours of reef time to enjoy, make sure you allow enough time to unwind and soak up the rays from the sundeck during your adventure.
For a nature-filled adventure: Join a rainforest tour
When you have the world’s oldest rainforest on your doorstep, go green and choose a nature escape for your Tropical North Queensland adventure. With so much history in the 160-million-year-old Daintree National Park, be guided by an expert to learn about the native flora, fauna and Indigenous culture, as you meander through the lush tropical rainforest of Mossman Gorge.
After exploring the green foliage of the rainforest, soak up the sun with a stroll along Myall Beach at Cape Tribulation and experience the true meaning of “where the rainforest meets the reef” – at the intersection of two natural World Heritage sites.
Just because you’re exploring the rainforest doesn’t mean you won’t need your swimmers with rainforest creeks to take a dip during the day. However, you’ll want to keep your toes out of the water during your river cruise wildlife (read: crocodile) spotting along Cooper Creek.