Cairns, the entrance to Queensland’s tropical north, is a popular stop for travellers off due to its tropical climate and laid back vibe. Located about 1,700km north of Brisbane, it’s a renowned backpacker hotspot that should most definitely be on your campervan route around Australia.
Whether you’re looking to kick back and enjoy beach life, trek through tropical rainforests or go on an underwater adventure, Cairns has it all!
Here are some of the best things to do in Cairns!
Explore the great outdoors.
Cairns is short hop away from not one World Heritage wonder, but two.
Cairns is a great starting point for anyone wanting to visit the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s great natural wonders. From Cairns you can join a dive boat for an underwater exploration, go snorkelling, kayaking or even take a cruise around the reef for a couple of days. If you’re feeling flush you could even catch a scenic helicopter ride to see the reef from above.
If visiting one of the world’s greatest wonders on your campervan adventure wasn’t enough, why not also visit one of the oldest living rainforests on earth. The Daintree Rainforest, a 2 hour drive north of Cairns, is around 135 million years old. The rainforest is home to some unique animals, including 6-foot tall prehistoric birds and kangaroos that live in trees.
There are a number of ways you can experience the rainforest. One of the best ways is on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. This rainforest cableway spans 7.5km over the Daintree tropical rainforest. Each gondola descends through the canopy layers and into the heart of the forest. On your journey you can get off at ‘mid-way stations’ Red Park and Barron Falls – great for boardwalks and lookout points.
If you haven’t had your fill of exhilarating experiences, don’t worry Cairns has more for you. Spend a whole day plunging down the raging Tully River on a whitewater raft! This white-knuckle experience takes you through more than 45 river rapids! Hold on tight!
Kick back and relax
Enjoy the chilled out beach vibe of Cairns and join the other campervans parked downtown. Cairns Esplanade is home to a free lagoon pool and free BBQ grills. They also hold free exercise classes, so why not chill out with some yoga, or try your hand at volleyball? If you’re parked up in Cairns over the weekend, make sure you don’t miss the Saturday market on the esplanade, great for jewellery, clothing and naturally made skin care products.
Take a trip to Port Douglas – Hop in your campervan and take the one-hour drive to Port Douglas, north of Cairns. This old fishing village is surrounded by forest and the Coral Sea. Sunday morning markets, art galleries and boutique shops make this the perfect place to park up, open up the camper van doors, grab a coffee and kick back for the day.
Get off the beaten track.
One of the best things about hiring a campervan to travel Australia, is that you can come and go as you please. So if you feel like you want to get off the beaten track why not head for a day trip or overnight stay to the Chillagoe Caves, located 200km west of Cairns. Once a thriving mining town, Chillagoe is now a great place to experience an amazing outback landscape with a haven of wildlife. There are between 600-100 caves in the Chillagoe-Mumgana region and there are guided tours you can go on to get a glimpse of life underground.
Popular with locals on hot and sunny days, the Crystal Cascades is a well-hidden spot. This secluded freshwater swimming hole and waterfall is the perfect place to cool down. You won’t find this place listed in tourist brochures so speak to a local to get directions.
So there you have it – some of the best things to do in Cairns. Find out more about campervan hire in Cairns and explore Australia.
If you want to read more of our Cairns adventures, come and explore the dedicated Cairns Road Trips. Happy Exploring!
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.