Skip to main content

The 15 best adventure activities in Cairns

Surfing Byron Bay Australia sunset and waves

Looking to get your adrenaline pumping Down Under? Head to the adventure capital of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland and rediscover your thirst for the unexpected. Not only will you have the opportunity to experience some of the country’s most exhilarating activities, but it’s the perfect way to challenge yourself and conquer that bucket list you never dreamt possible.

Go on, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and say YES to adventure activities in Cairns with these top 15 ideas.

1. Dive on the Great Barrier Reef

Of course, no trip to Cairns is complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. As the world’s largest coral reef system, it’s home to an incredible array of colourful marine life you’ll only find in Australia. Hop on board a day tour to find diverse snorkelling spots, or learn to dive and spend a few days at sea exploring this underwater world at leisure.

2. Bungee jump above a lagoon

Teetering 50 metres above a deep natural lagoon, experience a rush like no other on a must-do bungee jump. Or for a group venture, climb onto a giant swing and reach speeds of up to 120 km/h in just 3.5 seconds. Whether you’re a first-time jumper or a seasoned thrill seeker, everyone is welcome to drive their limits to the max.

3. Feel the joy of white water rafting

Don’t mind getting wet? Enjoy epic drops on a white water rafting tour with the World Heritage-listed rainforest as your unforgettable backdrop. From descending down the 260m high Barron Falls or embarking through grade 3-4 rapids in Tully Gorge National Park, you will without doubt have the time of your life.

4. Meander through the rainforest on horseback

For a dose of nature, saddle up and uncover the beauty of Cape Tribulation on a guided horse ride through the Daintree Rainforest. Along the way, you’ll see an abundance of local flora and fauna as you weave through the diverse trees. With your newly found riding skills tucked under your belt, finish at Myall Beach and walk your horse into the shallow waters of the ocean. No previous experience is necessary.

5. Skydive over the Great Barrier Reef

Freefall into paradise on an iconic skydive over the Great Barrier Reef. After a 20-minute flight to height with views of the Great Barrier Reef, the door opens and you’ll take the heart-stopping plunge, followed by a gentle parachute ride to an exclusive landing on the white sands of a beach.

6. Jump aboard a jet boat ride

Cool down and soak in the spins, slides, and high speeds of an awesome jet boat adventure. As well as getting to know Cairns’ Trinity Inlet, there are onboard cameras to capture the wow moments so you can brag about your jet boat adventure in the tropics.

7. Soar through the air on a hang-gliding flight

Want to know what flying feels like? Hop on a tandem hang gliding flight and experience if in real life. Alongside your skillful pilot, take in the stunning views over Trinity Bay, the Coral Sea, and the Great Barrier Reef.

8. Canyon down a waterfall

Consider yourself quite the climber? Then you’ll want to canyon your way (abseil, slide, cliff jump and swim) down a series of water features alongside your qualified guide. Not only will this test your limits, but you’ll be surrounded by lush green rainforest, granite formations, and the gorge.

9. Zipline over a crocodile

In Cairns you’ll find the world’s first high ropes course in a wildlife park where not only can you have fun with three zip lines (one of which takes you around the exterior of the building) but you can glide directly over Goliath, a 4-metre saltwater crocodile. It’s the ultimate dare you can brag about for years to come!

10. Soar in a hot air balloon

With abundant scenery around Cairns to explore, why not take an aerial journey on a hot air balloon ride? Take a picturesque drive from Cairns  to the Atherton Tablelands and feel the sensation of gliding through the sky in a hot air balloon. While flying gently above the landscape at dawn, your highly trained crew will provide expert commentary throughout the ride, and you might even be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine on landing.

Atherton Tablelands in Australia

Image source:AJ Green / unsplash

11. Swim with crocodiles

Over in Port Douglas, go one step further with crocodiles and swim with crocodiles, where you can take a dip just centimetres away from them. Not for the faint-hearted, this is the only opportunity in Queensland to swim with these marvellous predators and live to tell the tale.

12. Float through the Daintree Rainforest

For a must-do rainforest excursion, combine nature with water on a scenic snorkelling tour. Here you’ll navigate down a flowing rainforest river on a sturdy river sled, drifting with the current as you swim, snorkel and float along. Keep your eyes peeled — you may even see a turtle.

Canoe in Australian Everglad

13. Swim with dwarf minke whales

Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland is the only place in the world where you can swim with dwarf minke whales? This exclusive experience only happens for two months of the year (June and July) so if you’re in this part of Australia at that time, you absolutely need to dive into this exciting adventure. Join a tour to come eye to eye with these majestic creatures.

14. Chase spectacular waterfalls

Adventure activities in Cairns don’t have to be short and sweet. Cairns is home to countless waterfalls so when a sunny hot day presents itself, grab your swimmers and get out there to explore them. From secluded cascades and gentle drops to dramatic plunges and refreshing waterholes, you’ve got all the ingredients for a fun dat trip. The famous Waterfall Circuit including Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, and Ellinjaa Falls is especially popular.

15. Kayak around Fitzroy Island

Just off the coast of Cairns is tropical Fitzroy Island, offering a trio of rainforest, beach, and reefs. For a fun perspective, take on a kayaking day tour and visit private beaches and snorkelling locations that can’t be accessed by boat or foot.

Want to have a go at more adventure activities in Cairns? Check out the 19 best things to do in Cairns.

Up next

Stop dreaming and make sh*t happen!