When I first arrived in Cairns, I wasn’t fascinated by the city that I found more industrialized and pretty quiet.

But there’s actually quite a lot to do between the rainforest, the great barrier reef or just chill at one of the beaches. And if you have less than a week like me, here’s my top 5 activities!

1. The Esplanade and Lagoon

The esplanade in Cairns

After the tiredness of a road trip, all I wanted to do was have a shower and rest. But my adventurous soul couldn’t resist to discover this new city, so, what better way to do that than by walking around and get lost?!?

It’s with that in mind that I wandered until I found myself on the Esplanade where locals do their morning jog, have lunch on the grass or just lounge and enjoy the view.
Plus, there are plenty of free facilities around to satisfy the fitness enthusiasts, the skateboarders and even the kids.

If you want to have a swim and cool down, you can head to the Lagoon, it’s open all year-round, you have free BBQ facilities and it’s totally safe since it is monitored by lifeguards.

After the Lagoon in Brisbane, looks like Australians are big amateurs of them.
Who can blame them? Under this heat, you need somewhere to unwind with your family and friends, right?
It’s pretty smart too because sometimes there’s no beach or it can be pretty far of the city centre.

2. Cairns Botanic Gardens

If you’re looking for another free thing to do, I got you. Accessible by public transportation, the Cairns Botanic Gardens is a paradise where you will see and learn about tropical flora. It is supposed to be one of the greatest exhibitions in all Australia too and rightly so.

Breathe, relax and let yourself be carried away by the beauties surrounding you.

And if you’re lucky or planning ahead, just join a free guided walking tour every Monday to Friday at 10am.
That’s a nice way to discover the characteristics of the different plants and their unique features.
But watch out for the poisonous ones though!!

So, if you’re tired of the city and don’t know what to do, head to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy some of nature’s wonders!

3. The Great Barrier Reef

The great barrier reef in Cairns

How can I be in Cairns and miss out on the Great Barrier Reef? For an ocean lover, there was literally no way to skip it.

Listed as a World Heritage site and labelled as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, I’m sure you will understand my excitement.

I was lucky to go there before coral bleaching was too widespread but the last reports are pretty hopeful since it seems that it recovered a lot these past few years.

To get there, you can book a tour with one of the local agencies and if you’re a non-swimmer, don’t worry you even have an option where you can rent a glass-bottomed boat to see what’s going on under your feet.

Unforgettable experience guaranteed!

4. Skydiving

Who’s up for a little adventure?
I always am hence the skydiving option.

Skydiving in Cairns

Birthday gift to myself, it was on a whim that I decided that it will be the perfect way to spend a special day.
As a matter of fact, one of my friend met two days before convinced me to do it together.
I was thrilled but at the same time nervous, to say the least.

Especially when we got into the bus as they started to distribute the assumption of risk and release liability form. I’m quite sure that I must have turned white at that moment!
We just ended laughing it off though.

If you’ve never skydived before, I HIGHLY recommend it. The free fall was the best part for me, it was liberating and it was the first time that I really felt free.
You can’t even hear yourself scream, everything is quiet up there, it’s so peaceful. I can’t even describe the feeling, it was just perfect.
I think it’s a great stress reliever, and a great place to let go too.

And you’ll get a good night’s sleep as a bonus because skydiving is very tiring, mostly given to the fact that your body is not used to this kind of pressure.

So if you want to challenge yourself and have some good fun, I guarantee you that skydiving is definitely the right option!

5. Barron Falls

If you’re a chaser of waterfalls, you’ll be happy to know that there’s around 20 of them just around Cairns.
I’ll introduce you to one of them, probably the most impressive one too.
Barron Falls or Din Din located around a 40 minutes drive from Cairns makes for a perfect getaway.

Barron Falls in Cairns
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

It’s near the rainforest village of Kuranda that you will find this waterfall.
Through the Lookout track, you will be able to witness the strength of the Barron Falls from different angles.

I will advise you to visit after a heavy rainfall in summer or autumn to enjoy it at its fullest. And if you want to see more of the rainforest, you can still take the train or the cable car to get another view of the waterfall.

Cairns has still a lot to offer, from beaches to art exhibitions, there is something for everyone.
So, if you’re around, give Cairns a chance!

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