This spectacular wildlife enclosure on top of the Reef Hotel Casino recreates the rainforest environment complete with parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, koalas, kookaburras, wallabies, crocodiles, turtles, and pythons. It’s a great way to meet the local fauna if you’re not going to get out to the rainforest itself.
Cairns is a great place to access Australia’s most famous natural wonderland, the Great Barrier Reef. The 2,600-km-long reef system is made up of billions of corals that support a wide array of plant and animal life. There are a number of operators running a variety of dive options, including daytrips and longer “liveaboard” adventures. When choosing your service, be warned that while larger operators have better amenities, smaller ones are typically said to provide a better underwater experience.
Cairns is an extreme adventure paradise and if you’ve had enough of the land and sea, you can always head up in the air. A couple of operators in Cairns offer skydives – both single and tandem jumps – and the plane ride up has beautiful views over the reefs. Hang Gliding takes place off Rex Point Lookout, and local operators will provide shuttle service out there. The beautiful weather of Cairns is also ideal for hot-air ballooning and year-round trips will take you inland over the Atherton Tablelands, connecting directly with tours of the Great Barrier Reef or the Kuranda region.
The lush rainforest to the north of the city is a nature lover’s delight and there are literally hundreds of coach tour operators who’ll guide you through this World Heritage listed wonderland. Depending on your preferences, you can pick a tour that offers white water rafting in the warm tropical rapids, focuses on wildlife parks, takes you through tropical food farms, or visits Mossman Gorge, the waterfalls, the Daintree River, Cape Tribulation, the Cairns Highlands, or runs all the way to the Outback. Day tours and extended tours are possible in all budget ranges.