There is no shortage of adventures to be had in Cairns, Australia on land or sea. Pack it in or take it slow, Tropical North Queensland caters to both the adrenaline junky and the lazy sunbather. After one leisurely trip and one whirlwind weekend, these are my recommendations of top 10 things you must eat, see and do in Cairns.
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White Water Rafting in Barron Gorge
If you have no aversion to looking like a deranged Teletubby for an adventure sport, then don a GoPro-mounted helmet and go white water rafting. What’s that you say? The water is brown? No worries. It’s clean. This is Australia—the place where you can be fined hundreds of dollars for leaving a stray piece of fruit in your carry-on. Don’t worry about water-born illness; worry about keeping your slippery backside on the raft because your guide at Raging Thunder has other plans.
Discover Michaelmas Cay at the Great Barrier Reef
Of course, you knew that and though there is really no wrong way to see the Great Barrier Reef, if you’re a nature lover, you’ll also want to see Michaelmas Cay, famous for its migratory birds. Thousands of terns raise their young on this tiny sand dune accessible on the Passions of Paradise excursion.
Step Back in Time in Kuranda Village
Take the quaint Kuranda Scenic Railway back down the mountain and step back in time via a 120-year-old train line. Stops along the way reveal precipitous waterfalls and grand rain forests.
The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway allows you to soar over lush forest tops with ocean views to a serene town called Kuranda. It is home to hippie bead shops, scrumptious crumpets, and wildlife exploration of butterflies, birds, and bats.
Feed Bats at Kuranda
Batreach Kuranda allows you to get up close and personal with rescued bats. It is tucked away in the hiking trails of Kuranda, which is a small enough town that you will probably stumble upon Batreach. The public education facility is open five days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. so take your tea and crumpets then mosey over to this worthy and educational site.
Cairns Nightlife: Eat, Drink & Be Merry
Cairns nightlife invites pub crawling, bar hopping, or whatever you call having a good time. Live music, friendly locals, and fried food are plentiful in the Cairns strip. If you find yourself teetering on oblivion, pop into the Night Market for a $15 massage. Just don’t fall asleep on the table.
Become a Pescetarian
I’m a pescetarian, so I was right at home eating seared octopus from Dundee’s, with its picture-perfect waterfront location.
Then there was the perfectly battered salt and pepper calamari and these jumbo shrimp from The Raw Prawn. The wild Barramundi also comes highly recommended and is served with roasted dutch cream potatoes, asparagus, avocado salsa & lemon butter. You will not have a better dessert than the glutenous banana cake with a pitch perfect caramel glaze. The Raw Prawn is the place to go with your new Aussie friends and learn phrases such as “Good as…” Just be careful when you get back to the States because it might sound like you’re complimenting someone’s back side.
Chillax at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
At the center of town is a public lagoon, which is magically clean and safe, day or night. Walk, run, sleep, swim, picnic, play, or simply watch the bats come in. You might even catch a didgeridoo performance at the Esplanade.
Die & Go to Tchotchke Heaven at Cairns Night Market
I mock the serious business of souvenir shopping, yet I scored a classy straw hat at the Night Market. The highly pedestrian-friendly city of Cairns is a great place to unwind after any adventures had on land or sea. And in this place… you will have many.
The Night Market offers cheap massage, fried food, and all the tchotchkes you could ever want.
Get High with Cairns Zoom
If you want to work off the excess of the last night’s feeding and drinking frenzy in Cairns, here’s a chance for some good old fashioned cardio. Cairns Zoom is a zip line that could double as the set of America Ninja Warrior. Don’t even try to not look like an ape on this 65-foot vertical obstacle course. Even if you’re wearing chic ballet slippers, you’ll be hard pressed to preserve your dignity when you’re squeezing your posterior through a barrel. Does my butt look big in this harness?
Cuddle a Koala at Cairns Zoo
The Cairns Tropical Zoo offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the cutest and cuddliest of Australia’s wild life. You can hold a koala, feed kangaroos and wallabies, or meet some of the most infamous crocodiles that now call the zoo home. Be prepared for heart-racing feeding sessions. The zoo contains only tropical animals, so while you won’t see big cats, you’ll see wombats, cassowary, lizards, and some very entertaining lemurs.
Travel and accommodations provided by United Airlines. All opinions my own.
Win a trip for two to Cairns, Australia!
Win a trip for two to Cairns, Australia! It’s easy. Simply log in to Facebook or enter your email address on the entry form below to enter. Unlock even more ways to enter just by following Global Girl Travels. Earn up to 50 entries! Tweet this giveaway daily for extra entries.
- Roundtrip tickets for two on United Airlines to Cairns, Australia
- Admission for two to Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome to zip line and get up close with Cairns indigenous animals
- Tickets for two to Raging Thunder Adventures for an unforgettable white water rafting experience
Open to all entrants 18 years of age and older, excluding United employees. Flight must originate from Guam or Tokyo. Multiple entries encouraged! Winner chosen at random. Entry period ends June 1, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.