Top things to see in Cairns & Surrounds

Cairns: The gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Getting to Tropical North Queensland will most likely involve a flight to Cairns and if you have a day or so spare, there are a few spots you can’t miss out on!

What to see in Cairns & Surrounds

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

If you’re looking for somewhere to cool off whilst in Cairns, take a short walk over to the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon. Given it’s not recommended to swim in the open waters, this is the safest bet for a quick cool down!

The Esplanade

Enjoy a nice leisurely stroll along the esplanade and perhaps pick a few restaurant options for dinner.

Kuranda – Self Drive

We hired a car in Cairns and decided to drive up to Kuranda ourselves and check it all out.

We visited the two local markets – The Original Rainforest Market & Kuranda Heritage Markets.

Barron Gorge National Park & Barron Falls

When you’re in Kuranda, you should stop into Barron Gorge National Park and talk the short walk to view the waterfall from the lookout or walk 1.3km down to the lower platform. I’d recommend taking the short walk for the better view.

Although we visited in the wet season, there hadn’t yet been enough rain to make it as beautiful as the photos! It was still lovely but we left feeling disappointed after seeing the power of the waterfall in other visitors’ photos.

Wright’s Lookout

Further up from the Barron Gorge carpark you will see a sign to Wright’s Lookout. It will only take a few extra minutes and you will come across a lovely view. You will only need a couple of minutes here for a quick stop!

Kuranda Skyrail & Cableway

One of the most popular day-trips when spending time in Cairns! We chose not to do the Skyrail and cableway because we wanted to have more time in Port Douglas.  If you are, however, interested in doing this, click here for their website.

Waterfall Circuit

We drove from Kuranda down south towards the waterfall circuit and we stopped in at a few lovely swimming spots!

Malanda Falls

There were a few locals here enjoying a picnic lunch and the kids swimming in the swimming hole.

Millaa Millaa Waterfall

Probably one of our favourite stops for the day! Millaa Millaa waterfall offers a great swim spot with a beautiful waterfall as your backdrop!

You will see when you come out of Millaa Millaa Falls the waterfall circuit – just follow the signs to reach the others!

Zillie Falls

What was exciting about this stop was the walk you can do to get to the base of the waterfall! It is great for a different perspective. This is probably the prettiest walk in the area as well.

Ellinjaa Falls

The last waterfall on the circuit is also a lovely spot for a swim.

The Peanut Place

I know this isn’t a waterfall, but we passed this place and had to stop in! If you’re in need of a snack to keep you going, this place has heaps of different flavours. I got the chilli and lime peanuts!

Fitzroy Island Day Trip

Although we didn’t make the day trip, we have been told Fitzroy island is quite beautiful. If you have a spare day, maybe jump on a tour and check it out!

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Green Island Day Trip

Again, this is not something we had time to do. From what we have been told by other tourists and friends, if you’re deciding between Fitzroy and Green Islands, choose Fitzroy!

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 Where to stay

We stayed at the Pullman Cairns International hotel. The location is perfect and walking distance to everything you need in Cairns. Watch this space for our full hotel review.

Where to eat

Coffee Works Mareeba: If you’re driving from Kuranda down to the waterfall circuit you will probably drive through Mareeba. Coffee Works has some good coffee and a place to grab a bite to eat if you’re needing a rest stop.

Pullman Cairns International: I would absolutely recommend coming here for dessert at the very least! It was absolutely delicious on both occasions. The stand out though was the sticky date pudding and as you can see from the photo, it is very different to the standard one! And, of course, if you have an Accor Plus card, you will get 50% off your meal!

Marina Paradiso: We stopped here purely because they had live music playing and it had a really lovely atmosphere!

The service was really quick and the food came out quickly.

Prawn Star: A catchy name isn’t it! This restaurant is on a boat and has the freshest seafood you can find in Cairns! They are always busy so if you can’t get yourself a table, you can order take away!

Dundee’s Restaurant on the Waterfront: With plenty on the menu and daily lunch specials, you will be sure to find something you like here! We loved it here, the casual dining experience with water views – what’s not to love? The food came out quickly and it was delicious.

Packing for Tropical North Queensland

You definitely need to be prepared for your trip to FNQ (Far North Queensland). There are a few essentials in my mind, one of which is, of course, mosquito repellent! Click here for a printable packing guide for your trip.

Getting around

We hired a car through Hertz. We found their pricing to be competitive and car are always new and clean.

Video Highlights

Check out our highlights video from our trip to Cairns and the surrounding waterfalls! Be sure to put up the video quality to 1080p!

Do you have travel insurance?

Before travelling, make sure you get a travel insurance policy – you never know when you might need it! Click here for information on travel insurance, what company we recommend and a link to get an instant quote.

Alternative accommodation

If you’re looking for alternative accommodation to either save some money or share with friends or family, click here for information on Air B&B ($50 discount on your first booking), hotel price comparison websites etc.

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