21 INCREDIBLE Tours in Cairns [Insider Guide!]

Cairns is a city in the tropical Far North of Queensland and is regarded as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. The surrounding areas are home to the Tjapukai tribe, famous for their fiery ceremonies, and stories of indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people using music and dance.

Cairns has many things to do in and around town. You’ll find brilliant cafés, bustling markets and plenty of beaches nearby. Relax by a resort pool or spend your days exploring the greater Cairns region that features ancient rainforests, breath-taking scenery and extraordinary wildlife.

Now that you have chosen Cairns as your next destination, all that’s left is to pick the tours that suit you best and experience the best of Cairns!

• The 21 Best Tours in Cairns •

#1 – Cruise the Great Barrier Reef on a Catamaran

Cruise the Great Barrier Reef on a Catamaran
Best cruise in Cairns
  • $$$
  • 9 hours
  • Visit 2 diverse reef destinations in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Feast from a chef-prepared lunch, including fresh tropical fruit

Set sail for the outer Great Barrier Reef and feel the wind in your hair on an exclusive luxury catamaran. On the way, relax and enjoy some morning tea and learn all about the marine ecosystem from the trained marine expert onboard.

The tour will stop off at 2 locations on the Great Barrier Reef, where you’ll be encouraged to dive in and explore the reef wearing a snorkel mask. Spot turtles, colorful fish, exotic corals and more!

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#2 – Take a Ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Cablecar

Take a Ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Cablecar
Perfect for nature lovers!
  • $$$
  • 7 hours
  • Discover World Heritage-listed pristine rainforest by historic scenic railway
  • Take a ride on the cableway, gliding just meters above the rainforest canopy

Indulge in a Cairns rainforest tour and visit Kuranda by traveling on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. The journey passes spectacular waterfalls and then takes you into the stunning Barron Gorge.

Enjoy some free time in the village exploring the markets, shops and walking trails before climbing aboard the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the world’s oldest, continually-surviving tropical rainforest, a must-do Cairns attraction!

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#3 – Port Douglas & Wildlife Habitat Full Day Tour

Port Douglas & Wildlife Habitat Full Day Tour
Great fun for the whole family
  • $$$
  • 7 hours
  • Explore the charming, tropical town of Port Douglas
  • Meet iconic Australian animals

Journey North to Port Douglas on a beautiful scenic drive and explore the town on your own before heading to an interactive wildlife refuge. Once there you’ll be able to interact with water birds, curlews, lorikeets, cockatoos, and a host of other bird life while dining for lunch.

Afterward, meet some animals up close, hand feed kangaroos, cuddle a koala, and hold a tropical python! You’ll love your time with Australia’s unique animals that most people only get to see in pictures.

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Have your dates picked? Read up on hostels in Cairns before you book!

#4 – Take a Rainforest Riverboat Cruise

Take a Rainforest Riverboat Cruise
Great for photographers!
  • $
  • 45 mins
  • Cruise the tranquil waters of the world’s most ancient tropical rainforest along the Barron River
  • Admire freshwater crocodiles, turtles, snakes, water dragons and fish

Take advantage of an opportunity to cruise along the River Barron near Kuranda in a riverboat. Let your local guide inform you about the uniqueness of the rainforest, and get the chance to spot freshwater crocodiles, turtles, snakes, water dragons, fish and tropical birds.

This tour allows you to see the rainforest from a new perspective, all the while providing endless photo opportunities that will instantly make friends and family back home jealous of your trip!

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#5 – Go Wild in Cape Tribulation

Go Wild in Cape Tribulation

  • $$$
  • 12 hours
  • Cruise along the Daintree River and look for wild estuarine crocodiles
  • Get panoramic views of the mountains and the Coral Sea from the Alexandra Lookout

Explore some more of Queensland’s untamed wilderness on a day trip to Cape Tribulation. Enjoy a tropical lunch and some free time on the beach – the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites come together.

A guided walk will take you through the ancient rainforest of Daintree, stopping to take in the panoramic views at the Alexandra Lookout. A cruise along the Daintree River will allow you to spot and photograph wildlife in their natural habitat!

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#6 – Choose Your Own Adventure on Fitzroy Island

Choose Your Own Adventure on Fitzroy Island
A unique thing to do in Cairns
  • $$$
  • 8 hours
  • Cruise by ferry to Fitzroy Island and enjoy up to 7 hours of leisure time
  • Enjoy some quiet time, watersports or a hike

Discover the tropical paradise of Fitzroy Island, a protected National Park only a short ferry ride away from Cairns! Explore the island by yourself or get a package deal that includes fun and exciting activities fit for the whole family.

The island is covered in lush rainforest and has a myriad of walking trails to explore and navigate at your leisure. The beaches are pristine and the water is very inviting, with loads of watersports on offer!

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That’s not all! We have more hostels near Sydney Airport for you to check out!

#7 – Snorkel, Dive, and Overnight on the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkel, Dive, and Overnight on the Great Barrier Reef
The best dive tour in Cairns!
  • $$$$
  • 2-3 days
  • Enjoy between 3-5 dives or snorkeling sessions each day in exclusive reef locations
  • Take in the sunrise over the Great Barrier Reef with a snorkel or dive before breakfast

Take an overnight trip to the Great Barrier Reef aboard a premier liveaboard. Choose between a two or three-day trip and get the chance to snorkel and scuba dive up to three times a day!

Let the friendly crew provide you with delicious meals between dives, relax to the lapping of the water and sip on some cold brews and cocktails in the saloon section. This is one dive trip you’ll be sure to remember for years to come!

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#8 – Enjoy Dinner on a Luxury Yacht

Enjoy Dinner on a Luxury Yacht
Best evening cruise in Cairns!
  • $$
  • 5 hours
  • Experience the ultimate in waterside dining cruising the Cairns Harbour and waterways
  • Enjoy a chef-prepared gourmet buffet-style dinner and complimentary beverage included

Head out for dinner and combine it with an evening cruise on a luxury yacht. Feast on a buffet-style gourmet dinner that includes complimentary beverages and live music.

While enjoying a delicious meal you’ll be treated to a tour of Cairns’ waterways, slowly cruising around the natural harbor, waterfront and restaurant precincts. Watch the day turn to night and catch a beautiful sunset over the city if you are lucky!

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#9 – Explore Chillagoe Caves and the Outback

Explore Chillagoe Caves and the Outback
We loved this full day tour!
  • $$$
  • 11 hours
  • Explore the Chillagoe Caves, the largest known system having over 11 km of surveyed subterranean passage
  • Drive in a 4-wheel drive and enjoy a typical Australian lunch

Take a step back in time to the era of the dinosaurs on an exploration of ancient coral reefs and limestone caves, along with a pleasant trip to the outback. The fossilized remains and limestone labyrinths of Chillagoe Caves give you a portal into a lost world.

On this tour, you’ll also get the chance to pass through historical towns of the Queensland outback, get a history lesson on the copper smelters of the area, view some Aboriginal rock art, enjoy a pub lunch and finally see some indigenous animals.

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I’m sure you’ve heard of Melbourne, but there are so many other things to do in Melbourne!

#10 – Take to the Skies with an Aerial Tour of the Great Barrier Reef & Port Douglas

Take to the Skies with an Aerial Tour of the Great Barrier Reef & Port Douglas
Best views of Queensland!
  • $$$$
  • 1 hour
  • Admire the views through your guaranteed window seat in the high-wing aircrafts
  • See a bird’s-eye view of the Great Barrier Reef, including Green Island, Port Douglas, and Palm Cove

Take a tour like no other and see the Great Barrier Reef and Port Douglas from a unique viewpoint, in a high wing aircraft. You’ll get the best bird’s eye view of one of the Seven Wonders of the World and surrounding areas, not to mention amazing pictures!

Take in the amazing contrast of colors, best experienced from the air, on this unforgettable private tour.

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#11 – Green Island & Reef Full-Day Sailing Cruise

Green Island & Reef Full-Day Sailing Cruise
Great for couples!
  • $$$
  • 9 hours
  • Snorkel above an exclusive reef with a marine naturalist
  • Relax on the beach on Green Island or enjoy some of the island’s activities

Spend the day aboard a 16-meter sailing boat and get the chance to visit the lush and tropical Green Island and an exclusive reef site. There will be plenty of opportunities for snorkeling above the coral gardens with the aid of a marine naturalist!

A short dinghy ride will bring you to Green Island, where you can opt to explore the island’s resort, walk an interpretive trail, or visit Marine Land Melanesia.

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#12 – Explore Some Tropical Swimming Holes

Explore Some Tropical Swimming Holes
A wild tour in Cairns!
  • $$
  • 10-11 hours
  • Visit Millaa Millaa Falls, which is Australia’s most photographed cascade
  • Explore a landscape of rugged mountains, winding rivers and rainforests

Come visit some of the most beautiful locations across tropical North Queensland, and explore the majestic waterfalls, rainforest and volcanic landscape of Atherton Tableland. There you’ll get the chance to see some of Queensland’s more unusual wildlife, such as brush turkeys, Boyd’s forest dragon and platypus.

The highlight of the trip is that there are plenty of water holes to explore and enjoy a leisurely swim.

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Looking for something different? Check out our guide to party hostels in Sydney!

#13 – Go White Water Rafting on the Tully River

Go White Water Rafting on the Tully River
A fun thing to do in Cairns
  • $$
  • 11 hours
  • Experience grade 3 and 4 white water rafting
  • Enjoy a BBQ lunch beside the river

Engage your adventurous side and spend a day on the mighty Tully River, regarded as Australia’s best rafting river. Be prepared to grit your teeth and tackle technical and demanding grade 3 and 4 rapids head on, while rafting down through a gorgeous National Park!

This tour includes a good ‘ol Aussie barbeque on the banks of the river, a picturesque setting that will take your breath away (if the white water rafting hadn’t done that already)!

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#14 – Tour the Amazing Paronella Park at Night

Tour the Amazing Paronella Park at Night
Best dinner setting in Cairns
  • $$$
  • 9 hours
  • Appreciate Paronella Park both at sunset and during a night tour
  • Stroll along the Mamu Tropical Skywalk

Explore the nostalgic Spanish-style buildings of Paronella Park, nestled in a lush rainforest, and test your wildlife spotting abilities from the Mamu Tropical Skywalk. This beautifully landscaped park is best appreciated in the evening when the castles and waterfalls are illuminated.

This tour also offers the chance to admire and swim at Josephine Falls, widely regarded as the best waterfall in Far North Queensland!

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#15 – Take a City Bike Tour

Take a City Bike Tour
Best bike tour in Cairns
  • $$
  • 3 hours
  • Visit Cairns landmarks by bike
  • Enjoy some tasty snacks along the way

Stretch your legs, get some fresh air and take a tour of Cairns by bike. While riding around well-known Cairns points of interest you will learn about the wildlife, culture, and history of the city from a friendly local guide.

This tour explores a vast network of bike tracks through the less seen parts of Cairns, and gives you the chance to taste some tasty local snacks along the way!

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#16 – Get Insight into the Aboriginal Cultural

Get Insight into the Aboriginal Cultural
A great cultural tour
  • $$$
  • 3 hours
  • Learn traditional songs, dance and make music with Tjapukai Warriors
  • Feast on a sumptuous tropical buffet dinner

Meet the Tjapukai tribe, the indigenous people that live in the rainforest, experience their signature evening ceremony, listen to their stories and dine on delicious native Australian buffet.

Follow the Tjapukai warriors to a ceremony celebrating Aboriginal dreamtime stories, have your face painted and join the rainbow serpent circle to learn traditional songs. The highlight of the night is the “Nightfire”, a breathtaking, interactive exploration of Aboriginal culture!

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#17 – Highlands Hot Air Ballooning Trip at Dawn

Highlands Hot Air Ballooning Trip at Dawn
Best sunset tour!
  • $$$$
  • 5 hours
  • Experience a 30 or 60-minute balloon flight over Far North Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands
  • See the scenic Mareeba Valley from above at dawn

Get a totally unique perspective of the Cairns Highlands and soak up the diversity of landscape, vegetation and habitat of Queensland on a safe and exciting hot air balloon flight at dawn. Enjoy 5 hours of effortless flight, see the spectacular sights at sunrise and let the wind currents carry you over the Mareeba Valley.

This has to be the best way to tour the region around Cairns, providing the best views of the Atherton Tablelands!

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#18 – Segway Through Cairns and the Botanic Gardens

Segway Through Cairns and the Botanic Gardens
The most fun you can have in Cairns!
  • $$
  • 5 hours
  • Cruise along, enjoying the views of tropical mangroves and tidal estuaries
  • Spot crocodiles, turtles, colorful birds and more!

Take a fun, informative and exciting tour of Cairns all while mastering a Segway. This guided tour from Cairns City Esplanade heads north to Salt Water Creek and tropical mangroves before arriving at the tranquil setting of the Centenary Lakes in the botanic gardens.

There will be the opportunity to spot some wild crocodiles and bird life, stop for great photo opportunities and enjoy a wide variety of tropical flora and fauna!

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#19 – Experience a VIP Tour of Cairns Aquarium

Experience a VIP Tour of Cairns Aquarium
All ages love this tour!
  • $$$
  • 3 hours
  • Experience the thrill of hand-feeding cownose rays
  • Visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Center

What better way to discover all the marine wildlife frequenting the waters around Cairns than a VIP tour of the Cairns Aquarium? This tour gives you special early access to the aquarium to experience the aquarium in peace and includes a delicious meal and a take-home souvenir.

Feel the enjoyment of feeding the cownose rays with your own hands, visit the turtle rehabilitation center and go behind the scenes to learn how the aquarium functions!

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#20 – Explore Cairns at Your Own Speed

Explore Cairns at Your Own Speed
Cheapest tour in Cairns
  • $
  • 1-3 hours
  • Make your own schedule and explore Cairns at your own pace
  • Listen to background information about each of the sites you visit

Explore Cairns at your own pace and on your own schedule when you grab an audio guide. Download the audio tour and begin whenever you like.

Stroll along the Esplanade Lagoon and hear about the impact of war and the Gold Rush on the region. Head to the Jungara Gallery and admire some indigenous artwork all the while getting information about the Aboriginal peoples through your headphones! Enjoy other Cairns sites too, even a rooftop wildlife center!

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Need more specifics? Here are the best neighborhoods in Cairns to stay!

#21 – Experience Cairns’ Nightlife on a Party Bus

Experience Cairns Nightlife on a Party Bus
Young people love this tour!
  • $
  • 6 hours
  • The only double-decker party bus in Australia
  • A great night out guaranteed!

Join a whole bunch of night owls and party animals on a party bus tour of Cairns. Ultimate Party has been operating in Cairns since early 2000 and is Australia’s longest running Party Tour!

The double-decker party bus takes you to the best venues Cairns has to offer, giving you value for money. Included in the tour are 5 drinks, a light meal, free entry to clubs and fun games and prizes!

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We get asked many questions about what it’s like to visit Cairns and what to expect, so to help you prepare we have compiled a list off frequently asked questions below.

How do I book a Cairns tour?

There are many tour providers offering tickets and tours of Cairns, but our favorite has to be getyourguide.com. They have an extensive list of tours available and make it really easy to book the activities you wish to do.

What should I pack for a tour in Cairns?

We recommend packing summer wear and comfortable shoes as you could be doing a lot of walking. If you are going in the warmer months we highly recommend packing sunscreen and a hat, along with your swimsuit and flip flops.

How much do tours in Cairns typically cost?

The cost of tours in Cairns generally depend on the length of the tour and tour inclusions. However, taking our recommendations as a guide, tours cost between $15 – $400 USD with group tours being slightly cheaper and private tours being a little more expensive.

How long do tours in Cairns last?

Again, the length of a tour generally depends on what is included, and where they take you. The shorter tours are usually more localized, taking place at one location in the city, while tours leaving the city for the outback or Great Barrier Reef will take up to a full day.


There you have it folks, the best 21 tours in Cairns! By now you should have a good idea of the tours and activities to add to your Cairns itinerary to make your stay and epic one!

We have covered a range of Cairns tours, like the popular Great Barrier Reef and wildlife tours, added some Cairns city tours and of course included some good adventure tours too!

But don’t just take our word for it, get out there and try some tours for yourself! We are always happy to hear your feedback, so if you have a great experience or discover a new tour then let us know about it!

If you are looking for great accommodation in Cairns, check out our recommendations for a comfortable stay.

***Disclaimer*** Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, One Weird Globe will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going :)

Clair Ricketts