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Things to do in
Far North Queensland

Our most recommended things to do in Far North Queensland

From Cairns: Full-Day Green Island Cruise

1. From Cairns: Full-Day Green Island Cruise

Climb aboard a modern catamaran to sail into Green Island National Park on a beach and snorkeling cruise from Cairns. Discover a hidden gem in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and explore its coral reefs with snorkeling gear. Choose to enjoy a buffet lunch and go on a semi-submarine tour. Make your way to the harbor to meet your friendly crew for the day and climb onto your catamaran. Relax in the sun as you set sail towards the Great Barrier Reef. Experience picturesque views of the ocean as you arrive at Green Island National Park. Stroll around the island and explore its tranquil beaches. Find a stop to relax and go for a dip in the ocean. Get access to snorkeling gear and take a peek into the region's thriving marine life. You can also opt to go on a semi-submarine or a glass-bottom boat tour to discover the colorful coral reef and fish in comfort.

From Cairns: Kuranda Day Trip with Skyrail Cableway Ticket

2. From Cairns: Kuranda Day Trip with Skyrail Cableway Ticket

***IMPORTANT NOTICE*** The Kuranda Train will not operate until 01 March 2024 due to maintenance. (Except for 17, 18, 24, 25 February 2024) On these days we will operate the tour with Skyrail both ways up and return. Sorry for the inconvenience. The schedule is as followed until 01 March 2024: ・Pick up from your accommodation in the Cairns city area (Check your pick-up time the above) ・Heading to the Skyrail Station after all passengers on board ・10:45 Depart from Smithfield Skyrail Station ・12:00-13:30 Arrive in Kuranda and you will have free time ・13:45 Depart from Kuranda by taking the Kuranda Skyrail Station ・15:15 Your driver will be waiting for you in Smithfield Skyrail Station. ・16:15 Hotel drop-off 02 March 2024 (Plus 17, 18, 24, 25 February 2024) onwards: Explore the village of Kuranda in a pristine World Heritage-listed rainforest. Be picked up from your hotel and travel to the train station. Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway and marvel at mountains on the way. Soar over waterfalls and over Barron Gorge on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Explore the markets, shops, and walking trails, or take a river cruise (seasonal) for 2.5 hours. Discover the food stalls and cafés, or dine with the water dragons at Frog’s Restaurant famous for its sauces and dressings. Take the famous Skyrail down, spanning 7.5km over the rainforest canopy. Spot native wildlife, including the cassowary, the world's 3rd-largest flightless bird. Next, take the 1:45PM Skyrail back to the bottom (Skyrail Smithfield station). Embark on a fascinating journey of discovery over and deep into the world’s oldest, continually-surviving tropical rainforest. The iconic Skyrail experience is a must-do Cairns attraction of Australia’s World-Heritage listed tropical rainforest, immersing you in one of the most botanically fascinating areas on earth. At the end of your Skyrail experience, be picked up again by bus at 3:15 PM to be brought back to the hotel.

Cairns: Outer Edges of The Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight

3. Cairns: Outer Edges of The Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight

Take in the full spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef from the sky during a scenic flight from Cairns. Onboard a fixed-wing plane, see up to 140 kilometers of the Outer Barrier as well as many inner islands, reefs, and sand isles. Within 10 minutes of departing Cairns, the real adventure begins, as you get wonderful photo opportunities over Green Island, Oyster Reef, Vlasoff Cay, Upolo Reef, Pixie Reef, and Arlington Reef. Sit back in air-conditioned comfort as you glide through the sky. Take in the spectacular hues of green and blue from your window seat while listening to the pilot's informative commentary about the sights below. Get a chance to spot marine life with manta rays, green turtles, dugongs, sharks, and, if in season, whales, in clear view from the aircraft. Once your journey comes to an end, fly right back to Cairns.

Airlie Beach: Whitehaven Full-Day Eco-Cruise with Buffet

4. Airlie Beach: Whitehaven Full-Day Eco-Cruise with Buffet

After pickup from your accommodation, head to the marina in Airlie Beach by bus. Board the custom-built catamaran and enjoy fresh, homemade, gluten-free brownies as a morning snack. The first stop is at one of the area's many beautiful reefs to go snorkeling. Be blown away by the vivid colors, bountiful fish, and coral formations of the Great Barrier Reef's fringing reef. This spot offers a quieter way to experience the UNESCO-protected reef. Then, head to the second snorkeling spot on the northern tip of Hook Island. You will discover the area's underwater valleys, caves, and a variety of marine life. Continue to Whitehaven Beach for a buffet lunch of zucchini frittatas and quiche lorraine served with cold sliced meats, cheeses, salads, and fresh bread. After lunch, join a guided bush walk and history talk to Hill Inlet Lookout, located at the northern end of the beach. Admire the world-famous spot where white sands and turquoise waters blend in a unique swirling effect. Enjoy some free time to relax on the beach and soak up the scenery. An afternoon snack of fresh fruit will be provided before the scenic journey back to Airlie Beach by boat. Be dropped back at your accommodation at approximately 5:00 PM.

From Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Cruise by Premium Catamaran

5. From Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Cruise by Premium Catamaran

Hop aboard a catamaran for a day trip to remember to the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, dive, or swim in the water, enjoy a delicious buffet lunch, and take in the marine wildlife. Meet your crew at the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, pay the reef levy, and hop aboard the luxury catamaran. The crew will select reef locations depending on the day's conditions from Flynn and Milne reef or further north at Norman and Hastings reefs. All offer diverse reef structures teeming with exotic marine life. Feel the wind in your hair as you set sail for the outer Great Barrier Reef. Relax with morning tea on the way, get to know the crew and learn all about the marine eco-system from a marine expert. Review snorkeling techniques with the crew during the journey. Arrive at the first outer reef location, where you can snorkel, dive or swim in the water. You may also choose to sunbathe, or chill on the boat on the upper sun deck or the netted deck trampoline at the bow of the boat. You can avail complimentary guided tours from the staff. A dedicated dive tender is available for experienced certified divers who want to explore deeper waters. All certified divers receive a complimentary dive guide. First-time divers will receive clear and concise scuba instruction in the water from qualified PADI professionals. Savor a fresh tropical buffet lunch prepared onboard. Treat yourself to a selection of hot and cold dishes including buffet meats, salads, and tropical fruit. Travel to the second outer reef location for the day for your choice of activity. Look out for corals, exotic marine life such as parrotfish, reef turtles and 'nemo' fish. End the day as the captain hoists the sails, and cruise back to Cairns. Enjoy a cold drink from the bar (own expense) and relax on the boom netting. Alternatively, watch presentations about the marine life from the passionate eco-certified staff.

Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling or Dive Tour and Lunch

6. Cairns: Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling or Dive Tour and Lunch

Experience the Great Barrier Reef on a magical day trip from Cairns, with Divers Den. Spend 5 hours discovering the marine wonderland of the outer Great Barrier Reef visiting two stunning dive sites. These are expertly chosen from our exclusive moorings to bring you the best quality conditions and diverse marine life, from colourful corals to inquisitive Nemos, turtles, stingrays and giant Māori Wrasse. During your Great Barrier Reef Day trip, enjoy our large sun decks, air-conditioned indoor spaces and hot freshwater showers. After a morning spent exploring the reef, enjoy a generous buffet lunch with a range of hot and cold foods, salads, rolls and tropical fruit to refuel for the afternoon.

Cairns: Daintree and Mossman Gorge Tour with Cruise Option

7. Cairns: Daintree and Mossman Gorge Tour with Cruise Option

**Due to Cyclone Jasper and road closures to Cape Tribulation the below alternate itinerary will be run until further notice: Departs Cairns: 7:15am - Returns: 6:30pm - Visit Mossman Gorge for Welcome to Country experience, enjoy a guided rainforest walk and refreshing swim - weather and river levels dependent. - Lunch at Daintree Village - Daintree River Cruise - Alexandra Range lookout - Daintree Ice cream - Visit Thorntons Beach – where the reef meets the rainforest - Take the Daintree River Ferry - Port Douglas short visit, photo opportunity ******************************************************* Embark on a day trip where the rainforest meets the reef. See natural sights including the Great Barrier Reef, experience a wildlife cruise, and participate in a smoke ceremony as you go. Start your adventure with a scenic coastal drive from Cairns to Port Douglas, the far north’s very own great ocean road with panoramic views of the sparkling Coral Sea. The first stop is Mossman Gorge, which is in the southern sector of the world-famous Daintree National Park. The gorge has been carved out by the cold mountain waters of the Mossman River, which winds through large granite boulders, bordered by lush green rainforest. It’s a magical place and you’ll be welcomed by the traditional owners, the Kuku Yalanji people, who will also cleanse you of evil spirits during a smoke ceremony. Also, enjoy a refreshing swim in the cascading waters. After crossing the mighty Daintree River and a lunch break, it’s time to explore the ancient rainforest environment on an interesting guided tour of the Marrdja Botanical Boardwalk. Highly trained guides will give expert rainforest interpretation, which will inform and impress. Be amazed at the huge diversity you will encounter, you will discover everything from low-lying ferns and shrubs, to the massive rainforest canopy and even mangrove ecosystems - all in one short easy walk. You can choose to taste locally made ice cream, at your own cost, and prepare for a photo opportunity at the Alexandra Range Lookout, which provides sweeping views over the Daintree River, its rainforest delta, and out to the Coral Sea. In the afternoon, experience a wildlife cruise on the river (if option selected). During the cruise, you may see a crocodile, while learning about the fragile ecosystem of this impressive serpent-like river system. On the return journey to Cairns, drive through Port Douglas, a picturesque beachside village with a laid-back vibe and loads of bars and cafes.

Cairns: Fitzroy Island Ferry with Snorkeling and Boat Tour

8. Cairns: Fitzroy Island Ferry with Snorkeling and Boat Tour

Enjoy a fun-filled day of activities on visit Fitzroy Island, a national park with lush tropical rainforests, granite outcrops, open woodlands, mangroves, and coral beaches. Set sail to Fitzroy Island with return boat transfers, snorkeling equipment, and a glass-bottom boat tour. Walk to the lighthouse, dine at the restaurant, or relax at the famous Nudey Beach, voted the best beach in Australia. Explore the island's rainforest walks and snorkel at the beach. You also have the option to bring a picnic lunch or purchase a casual lunch from the Fitzroy Island cafe. Extra activities include Foxy's Bar & Café, Pacific Island Store, dive, and activities center - all available on the island at an extra cost.

From Airlie: Whitsundays and Whitehaven Half-Day Cruise

9. From Airlie: Whitsundays and Whitehaven Half-Day Cruise

Cruise to Whitehaven Beach on this cruise. Depart early in the morning on a high-speed vessel for a cruise through the Whitsunday Islands and be the first on the beach. Alternatively, depart later in the day and enjoy a sunset cruise home. Enjoy morning or afternoon tea. Board the Whitehaven vessel for the scenic cruise to the magnificent beach. Your cruise vessel has expansive seating areas inside and out and your skipper will provide an informative commentary on the history and natural wonders of the area. Sit back, breathe in the sea air, sip a wine or beer, and marvel at the 74 Island Wonders of the Whitsundays, starting with views of Passage Peak and the Pentecost Island. The waters of Solway Passage lead you to Whitehaven Beach, a must-see in the Whitsundays. Prepare to be dazzled by the breathtaking beauty and vivid white sand of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. This uninhabited island is one of Australia's true gems. Wander along the beach to your own secluded stretch, laze on the sand, or cool off in the azure waters. After spending some time at the Southern end of Whitehaven Beach, make the beautiful journey back to Airlie Beach.

Whitsundays Ocean Rafting Tour: Snorkel, Walk & Whitehaven

10. Whitsundays Ocean Rafting Tour: Snorkel, Walk & Whitehaven

Ride, snorkel, and bushwalk as you embark on the perfect Whitehaven Beach tour, visiting both ends of the world-famous beach. Take off on the ride of your life in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands and enjoy a guided nature walk, inner coral reef snorkeling, personalized snorkel instruction, and more. Departing from Airlie Beach, climb aboard the fastest day boat in the Whitsundays. Experience an informative ride and thrilling adventure on super fast semi-rigid inflatable vessels capable of speeds of up to 35 knots (65 kilometers per hour). Select the North Whitehaven option for an eco-adventure popular amongst avid snorkellers. This includes two different snorkel destinations, a visit to the beach at Hill Inlet, and a guided National Park walk to the lookout above the silica sand of Whitehaven. Select the South Whitehaven option for more beach time. Enjoy at least two hours of relaxing on the white silica sand, and a guided walk to Hill Inlet for breathtaking views of the tropical waters. Snorkel for over an hour amid corals and fringing reefs. Whatever option you choose, enjoy the only tour in the Whitsundays to have direct access to Hill Inlet beaches at Whitehaven. Have peace of mind by traveling with an advanced ecotourism-certified, climate change business and green travel leader. A tropical lunch pack is available to be pre-booked at the check out and paid for on the day of the tour. Water, soft drinks, beer, fruit juices, and chocolates are also available for sale on board or you can bring your own non-alcoholic drinks and lunch.

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Top sights in Far North Queensland

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Frequently asked questions about Far North Queensland

What top attractions are a must-see in Far North Queensland?

What are the best inexpensive tours in Far North Queensland?

What are the most popular museums and exhibitions in Far North Queensland?

Insider tips: Explore Far North Queensland like a local

Olly Gaspar is a professional adventure travel photographer and blogger known for his captivating visual storytelling and immersive travel guides. Olly has spent the last five years traveling full-time and posting about his adventures on We Seek Travel.

What should I do on my first trip to Far North Queensland?

Far North Queensland is Australia’s tropical adventure capital. It's also the region where the world’s oldest living rainforest, the Daintree, meets its largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef. Many travelers arrive in Cairns, an excellent base to explore the reef on snorkeling, scuba diving, or glass-bottomed boat trips. From here, the incredible Cape Tribulation is just a short trip away, which is a must-visit to see the unique flora and fauna of the ancient rainforest.

What are some hidden gems to see in Far North Queensland?

After visiting Cairns and exploring the popular things to do in Port Douglas, there are plenty of hidden gems in Far North Queensland worth exploring. One is the wild Atherton Tablelands, a plateau region located roughly one hour inland from Cairns. Head to the Tablelands, as the area is known locally, to find a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, waterfalls, and fresh-water swimming hole. Visiting the Tablelands on a day trip from Cairns or Port Douglas is possible to explore waterfalls like Millaa Millaa or hike the popular Windin Falls Trailhead.

How much time should I spend in Far North Queensland?

Far North Queensland is a region spanning almost 400,000 square kilometers, so dedicate more than just a couple of days if you really want to see this region. A typical itinerary might include spending three to four days in Cairns, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest village of Kuranda, and the Daintree Rainforest. Next, spend up to three days in Port Douglas to relax and enjoy the laidback atmosphere, before heading up to Cape Tribulation for a couple of days to explore the rainforest and spot unique wildlife like the Southern Cassowary.

What food is Far North Queensland known for?

Far North Queensland is known for its fresh seafood and local produce like pawpaw, pineapple, and mango. One trademark dish of North Queensland is the classic seafood platter. This is served at most Aussie restaurants, pubs, and bistros in Cairns and Port Douglas. The platter usually features fresh oysters, calamari, local fish, mud crabs, and Moreton Bay bugs (aka Bay lobsters). The seafood platter is usually served with a side of fries and the essential aioli and tartare sauce.

What is the best way to get around in Far North Queensland?

Renting a car in Cairns or Port Douglas is a convenient option if you’re looking to explore the region independently. However, there are also many great organized day trips and transfers to popular attractions like the reef and rainforest, which can be a good option if you prefer not to drive or want to learn more about the area from a knowledgeable guide. Cairns and Port Douglas have compact city centers that are easy to explore on foot.

What are the best months to visit Far North Queensland?

The best time to visit Far North Queensland is during the dry season, from April to November, typically the Australian winter. The weather is sunny and warm, with less humidity. The peak season in the region is from June to August.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

Far North Queensland is well-known for its artisanal markets. The most popular is Rusty's Markets in Cairns, a bustling market selling fresh produce, tropical fruits, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. However, in Port Douglas, the main shopping area is on Macrossan Street, the city’s main street, where you’ll find a mix of local gift shops, art galleries, and high-end fashion boutiques.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Far North Queensland?

Cairns and Port Douglas are the two main destinations to consider when booking your accommodation in Far North Queensland. Cairns is the capital and larger of the two, offering a range of options from budget backpacker hostels to luxury seaside resorts. It's also a great base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef since you can walk to the Reef Terminal for a snorkeling or diving cruise. For a more laid-back and upscale atmosphere, Port Douglas is great. This charming town has beautiful beaches, tempting boutiques, and gourmet dining. It’s also an excellent base for exploring the Daintree Rainforest and the Mossman Gorge. Alternatively, accommodation is available on the nearby islands, including Green Island and Fitzroy Island.

Other Sightseeing Options in Far North Queensland

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What people are saying about Far North Queensland

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 15,338 reviews

The views were incredible, we took lots of pictures. The pilot very professional and friendly. We may have had some clouds, but the pilot knew how to look for sunny and clear places to be able to enjoy the show of the Coral Reef. Thanks!

Amazing day out on the reef, the guides were all very knowledgeable and looked after everyone well. We were well fed between snorkelling/diving sessions and saw gorgeous fish, clams and turtles. Would highly recommended

One of the best things I’ve ever done! I will definitely do it again when I have the chance

The staff were amazing, especially Amber as she was so patient and very helpful.

Caring and entertaining guide, cool activities, nice food, seen some wildlife