Things to do in Cairns for first-timers

Heading to Cairns for the first time and looking for the best things to do? Fear not, this particular corner of Tropical North Queensland is packed with incredible experiences and outdoor activities to enjoy. After all, it’s home to two World Heritage-listed sites - the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropic Rainforest! A trip here need never be boring, so find some time in your itinerary for the exhilarating activities below or check out our full range of things to do in Cairns

Snorkelling for 1 day on the Reef

When it comes to must-do activities in Cairns, snorkelling or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef has to be number one. Take the plunge and explore this incredible underwater world on one of the full-day trips. Getting to the outer reef from Cairns takes around 80-90 minutes on the water, but it’s well worth the wait for the unbeatable variety of marine life you’ll see. Don’t miss your chance to take a Great Barrier Reef tour.

Green Island Eco Adventure

Hop aboard a fast catamaran for this Green Island Eco Adventure, just 45 minutes off the coast of Cairns. This unique spot gives you a unique reef and rainforest experience. Choose your own adventure – take a stroll along the sand and rainforest boardwalks to explore the island, snorkel the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, or stay dry and take in the views from a glass bottom boat. Sounds like a day out to remember!

Helicopter ride

If a helicopter ride is on your bucket list, Cairns is the perfect place to get it ticked off. Choose from our selection of helicopter flights to find your perfect fit. Enjoy breathtaking views over the majestic Great Barrier Reef and vast rainforest, while learning more about this stunning region with commentary from your pilot. This is a once-in-a-lifetime journey you’ll want to bring your camera along for!

Bungy Jump Cairns

You can feel the rush of freefall with a bungy jump deep in the tropical rainforest near Cairns. There are 16 styles of jump you can take from the 50-metre platform, but whichever one you take, it’s sure to be an experience you’ll never forget.  Want to take it to an even more extreme level? Try the bungy jump and giant jungle swing combo for the ultimate rush.


Another day, another chance to freefall and take in awesome views! A skydive in Cairns has to be one of the most exciting ways to see this beautiful part of Australia. Strap in for a tandem skydive with up to 60 seconds of freefall, reaching speeds of around 200kph. You’ll even come away with a commemorative certificate, and there’s the option to buy photos and video. Perfect for remembering your experience and showing off to friends and family!

Jet boat ride Cairns

See Cairns in a whole new way with this full throttle jet boat ride. Departing Marlin Marina, this experience is a fast and thrilling way to liven up any day. Soar past the yachts and cruise boats and hold on tight for fish tails, slides, wave riding and all kinds of fun manoeuvres as the boat reaches full throttle! You’ll laugh, you’ll scream, you’ll love it.

Cairns aquarium

 The Cairns Aquarium is the perfect all-weather activity for people of all ages. Learn more about the incredible marine life and land animals found in the two unique World Heritage listed areas – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Expect to get up close and personal with creatures including endangered freshwater sawfish, grey reef Sharks and humphead Maori wrasse, plus enjoy fascinating daily presentations. 

White water rafting

Did you know Cairns is an amazing spot to try white water rafting? This is a must-try for adventure lovers, with both the Barron River and Tully River rapids to tackle. All the equipment and safety instruction you need is supplied, and no previous white water rafting experience is required to tackle either river, it’s worth noting Tully River offers the greater challenge. The perfect combo of an awesome work out, heaps of fun and incredible sights.