A useful travel resource listing the best Cairns tours & experiences to book during your next trip to the Tropical North!

Cairns is considered Australia’s tropical adventure capital! There are so many epic adventures to be had up here, from exploring the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef to hiking in the Daintree; the oldest surviving rainforest on earth.

In this guide, I’ll be outlining the absolute best bookable experiences and tours in Cairns so that you can plan your visit to this incredible slice of Australia. I’ve listed the following Cairns tours based on my personal experience during my time living in Tropical North Queensland so you get an unbiased opinion!

The Best Cairns Tours in 2022

Guess what? Travel is back on the cards, and Cairns is one of the best places in the world to spend a tropical getaway!

I’ve split this article into two sections. The first covers the 7 best organised day tours from Cairns, and the second section includes 4 half-day activities.

However, before we get into the list of epic tours in Cairns, you might want to check out some of my other guides. Below are some other lists that should prove helpful for your travels!

Barron River White Water Rafting Tour Cairns
White Water Rafting on the Barron River

Best Cairns Day Tours & Full-Day Experiences

There are so many epic tours and Cairns experiences worth booking. In this section, I’ll include the best day tours which cover full-day activities and highlights in Cairns.

There’s a link to each tour using the same booking website that I used on each of my trips. This way, I’ve saved you the hassle of comparing prices, guaranteeing the best rates for your bookings.

1. Self-Guided Kuranda Day Tour From Cairns

This Kuranda day tour from Cairns combines two of the regions premiere attractions; the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and the Kuranda Scenic Rail.

This trip is a self-guided tour, meaning that you can enjoy the rainforest and all of the awesome things to do in Kuranda at your own pace. This Cairns tour includes:

  • Skyrail ticket
  • Scenic Rail ticket
  • Pickup & drop-off to your hotel

Book best price online: Self-Guided Kuranda Day Trip, Scenic Rail & Skyrail

Read more: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Experience

Alternatively, if you only want to take the Scenic Rail, you can book a $50 discounted ticket using Klook.


2. Premium Catamaran Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef

Did you know that Cairns is considered the best place in Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef from? That’s because it has the largest reef fleet terminal and is situated much closer to the outer reef than other parts of Queensland.

If you’re looking for the best reef tour in Cairns for a full day of snorkelling, I’ve got you covered. This tour gets you out to the reef in style, onboard a luxury catamaran! Somehow, this is also one of the most affordable reef tours in Cairns! No wonder it’s so popular.

This trip visits two reef locations, and includes lunch, snacks, drinks and all the snorkelling gear you’ll need.

Check best price online: Great Barrier Reef Trip


Related: Great Barrier Reef Trip – Dive Master Blog Review

3. Fitzroy Island Day Tour

Fitzroy Island is one of the closest islands to Cairns and a day tour to Fitzroy is definitely something you should add to your Cairns itinerary when visiting.

The full-day adventure ticket includes the fastest catamaran ferry ticket, getting you out to the island in just under 45 minutes! There are so many highlights on Fitzroy, which is one of my favourite tropical islands in Australia. Check out Nudie Beach, climb to the highest point on the island for sunset and snorkel with turtles just off the beach!

You can also rent snorkelling gear and book a glass-bottom boat experience through the same company.

Book best price online: Fitzroy Island Full-Day Adventure

Read More: Fitzroy Island Guide


4. Daintree Day Tour From Cairns

The UNESCO World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest is the oldest surviving rainforest on earth. It’s home to tropical plants and abundant wildlife found nowhere else on earth!

Checking out the Daintree is a must when you’re in Cairns. If you’re short on time and looking for a Cairns tour to book for a full day adventure, I highly recommend the trip with Cairns Adventure Group.

This trip begins in Cairns nice and early, and takes visitors all the way up to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef. You’ll also stop by Mossman Gorge, jump on a crocodile spotting tour down the Daintree River, and cool down in the freshwater swimming holes of Cape Tribulation.

Secure a spot online: Daintree, Mossman Gorge & Cape Trib From Cairns

Myall Beach, Cape Tribulation Things to do

Related: 7 Best Bookable Experiences in Cape Tribulation

5. Green Island Cairns Tour

Green Island is the second island worth visiting during your trip to Cairns. This one is a little flatter than Fitzroy Island but has a further-reaching reef. Boats operate daily to Green Island from Cairns, getting there in roughly 45 minutes.

Once you arrive, you are free to snorkel on the reef, explore the rainforest island interior or book an optional glass-bottom boat tour!

Book best price: Green Island Day Trip

Read More: Green Island, Cairns – 7 Things to See & Do


6. Atherton Tablelands Waterfall Tour

Did you know that most of the epic waterfalls and hikes you would have seen pictures from are actually found up in the Tablelands? This often neglected region near Cairns is in my opinion, much better for raw adventure!

If you’re looking for Cairns tours featuring waterfalls and swimming spots like the iconic Josephine Falls and the Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit, then make sure to check out the link to this Atherton Tablelands trip from Cairns.

Read more: 25 Awesome Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands

Book best price: Atherton Tablelands Trip From Cairns (Waterfalls)


7: Frankland Islands Day Tour

If I had to pick the absolute best Great Barrier Reef island day tour from Cairns, I’d pick the Frankland Islands.

That’s because this beautiful set of islands just south of Cairns has by far, the healthiest and most pristine coral reef out of all the rest. There’s only one company that runs tours to Frankland Islands from Cairns, and they’ve been doing it for 50 years!

$5 OFF: Booking online with Backpacker Deals when you use code: OLLY5

This full-day island tour includes a coach-transfer from Cairns to the ferry at the Mulgrave River. Here, visitors will embark on a 30-minute scenic river cruise before breaking through the heads and out to Frankland Islands. This day tour is all-inclusive, meaning you’ll get access to snorkelling gear, kayaks, SUPs and get fed morning tea, lunch and dinner!

Frankland Islands Drone

Best Half Day Tours From Cairns

Looking for some epic tours in Cairns to squeeze into a morning or afternoon? These last few experiences are in my opinion must-do’s and definitely worth checking out!

1. Great Barrier REef Scenic Flight From Cairns

The true wonder and scale of the Great Barrier Reef can only truly be realised from the sky! Luckily, there is a quick 30-minute scenic flight departing from Cairns offering an opportunity to witness this global treasure in a quick morning or afternoon trip from Cairns!

If I’m being honest, this was probably my favourite experiences in Cairns and one that I’d recommend to anyone visiting. The flights are surprisingly affordable and regardless, you just simply would never regret this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Book best price: Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight

Read about my experience: Great Barrier Reef Flight From Cairns

Great Barrier Reef From the Sky
Cairns helicopter tour over the Great Barrier Reef

Or… Combine a GBR Cruise & Helicopter Flight

Prefer a helicopter tour? It’s possible to combine a full-day GBR cruise with a 10-minute helicopter flight directly from the reef pontoon. This Get High package is actually cheaper than a 30-minute flight from Cairns City
Read my guide for more information or book directly below.

2. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Trip From Cairns

Another epic and unmissable experience that you can book from Cairns is a sunrise hot air balloon trip! These trips start nice and early and include hotel pickup, taking you up to the scenic Tablelands in time for a sunrise lift-off!

This experience is another epic must-do, and it’ll get you back to Cairns by 10am!

Book best price online: Hot Air Ballooning Cairns

Read about my trip: Hot Air Balloon Cairns

hot air cairns, ballooning in Mareeba

3. Crocodile Spotting Tour on the Daintree River

Cairns and the Tropical North is home to the world’s largest species of crocodile; the saltwater (estuarine) crocodile!

These guys inhabit the waters around Cairns, meaning you’ll have to be careful where you swim! In saying that, they’re usually quite tricky to spot! However, if you’re set on the idea of spotting a wide crocodile, the best place to do it is on the Daintree River.

The best Cairns crocodile tour is run by Solar Whisper, an electric-boat tour allowing visitors to get closer to the crocodiles without disturbing them in their natural environment. Of course, you’ll need to make your way up to the Daintree River along the Great Barrier Reef Drive, but who’s complaining about that?

Book: Solar Whisper Croc Tour ($30)

Review: (Review) Best Daintree Crocodile Trip


4. Barron Gorge Whitewater Rafting (Half Day Tour)

The last half-day tour in this list of epic bookable experiences in Cairns is a whitewater rafting trip down the Barron River.

This tour is a 2-hour experience operated by professional rafting guides. The Barron Gorge is also one of the most scenic places near Cairns, which means this is always a whitewater rafting experience to remember!

Read more: White Water Rafting Cairns (Barron River)

$5 OFF: Barron Gorge Whitewater Rafting when you use code: OLLY5

White Water Rafting Tour in Far North Queensland

More Far North Queensland Travel & Adventure Blogs

That wraps up this travel guide to the best Cairns tours and experiences worth booking! There were a few that missed the top 11, but that just goes to show how many epic adventures are to be had in Tropical North Queensland.

For more travel ideas or some adventure inspiration for solo or independent travel, check out some of my many other guides to Cairns and the surrounding region below.


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