Three days might not seem like much time, and of course it's nowhere near enough time to really experience what Cairns and Tropical North Queensland have to offer. But with a bit of careful planning (which we've already done for you), you'll leave Cairns feeling like you've been here for weeks. We'll have you snorkelling and diving the reef, cuddling a koala, riding a century old rainforest train, and gliding over the treetops in a cable car.
If you arrive early enough in the morning, or if you got into town the night before, you'll be able to head out to the reef on your first day. Otherwise, if you arrive a bit later, you may need to reverse days 1 and 2. In our opinion, the reef is well worth making a full day of.

DAY 1:

There are a number of operators to choose from, depending on your own taste and budget. Generally, all snorkelling equipment is provided, along with a buffet lunch. For those who love diving - whether experienced divers or first timers- there will be an opportunity to dive on the reef.

For a comprehensive list of all the companies that offer scuba diving or snorkelling trips to the Great Barrier Reef, please visit our DIVING TOURS page. But if you'd rather enjoy the Great Barrier Reef from the comfort of a sailing boat, we have it as well. Go to our OCEAN TOURS page to see all the vessels and catamarans that will take you sailing.

DAY 2:

It's time to explore Kuranda and the Wet Tropics rainforest. This doesn't necessarily have to take a whole day, but if you take in a few of the sights and attractions along the way, you won't get back to Cairns much before nightfall.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway, in Tropical North Queensland.Kuranda is a charming little mountain village, surrounded by World Heritage listed rainforest, and famous for its colourful markets... but getting to Kuranda is always half the fun! Again, you will be picked up from your hotel, and transferred to either the Skyrail terminal or the train station. You'll travel one way by Skyrail, a 7.5 kilometre cableway that glides just metres above the rainforest canopy, and the other way on the century old Kuranda Scenic Railway that passes through fifteen tunnels and crosses forty bridges.

Included in your day, you will have an option of either entry to Rainforestation, where you can cruise through forest waterways on a World War II amphibious army duck, and enjoy traditional performances by the Pamagirri Aboriginal dance troupe, or entry into the three wildlife parks; Kuranda Koala Gardens, Birdworld and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, where you will be able to cuddle a koala, get close to a kangaroo, see and feed one of the world's largest birds, the Cassowary, and be surrounded by the graceful motion of over 1,500 butterflies, all native to the rainforest region. It's your choice.

DAY 3:

There's so much to see within a short drive of Cairns that on Day Three, we recommend getting out and about under your own steam. If you don't have your own vehicle, please visit our CAR HIRE page to make sure you get the best deal available. You'll be able to have your rental car delivered to your hotel early in the morning (or even the evning before if you fancy making an early start) so you can get your day under way whenever you're ready.

If you prefer not to have to drive, that's no problem either. There are a number of tour operators who can take you...
Then you have a choice...

The Kuranda Scenic Railway, in Tropical North Queensland.For lush rainforest and isolated beaches, you want to point your car north, towards Cape Tribulation, stopping at charming Port Douglas along the way, taking a refreshing dip in nearby Mossman Gorge, and definitely fitting in a crocodile spotting cruise on the Dainree River.

From Cairns to Cape Tribulation is a two and a half hour drive, except that of course you'll be stopping along the way. Even with sightseeing, the return trip is easily do-able in a day, but if you're not leaving Cairns till the following, you may find it more enjoyable to spend the night in Cape Tribulation, and make your way back early the next day.

For more information about Port Douglas, Daintree and Cape Tribulation, please follow the appropriate links on our DESTINATIONS page.

For something different, and another unique aspect of Tropical North Queensland, you can instead wind your way up the inland range onto the cool, fertile Atherton Tablelands, and follow the 'waterfall circuit', stopping at some of the traditional farming towns. From Cairns to Atherton, in the middle of the Atherton Tablelands, is only one and a half hours, but you'll find plenty of things to stop for along the way. Even with sightseeing, the return trip is easily do-able in a day, but if you're not leaving Cairns till the following, you may find it more enjoyable to spend the night in one of the interesting towns on the Tablelands, and make your way back early the next day. For more information about the Atherton Tablelands, please follow the appropriate links on our DESTINATIONS page.


Even if you end up spending your last night in Cape Tribulation or on the Atherton Tablelands, you'll still have two nights in Cairns, and although there is always plenty to do in the city centre, not to mention a great choice of restaurants, you can also liven up your itinerary with the inclusion with one of the following night-time options...

At Cairns Night Zoo, you will enjoy the ubiquitous Aussie barbecue of Steak, sausages, chicken shaslick, reef fish, prawns and salads. Beer, wine and soft drinks are included with your meal. Guests are invited to learn some traditional Australian bush dances and sing along with a couple of favourite Australian songs. After the BBQ everyone is provided with a flashlight, and your guide will take you to meet the creatures of the night... snakes, possums, and many more. You may even be lucky enough to see a crocodile's eyes glowing in the torchlight. Somewhere in the bush, you'll likely bump into the resident 'swaggie' (swagman), who will entertain you with his tall tales, and share with you some traditional billy tea and damper. Don't be surprised if a few curious kangaroos drop in to say "G'day"

At the end of the safari, you'll be welcomed back at the base with a cold beer, a glass of wine or soft drink and supper, and of course deliveried safe and satisfied back to your hotel, ready for a good night's sleep and a tropical lie-in the next morning.


Tjapukai Aboriginal Park, located between Cairns and Kuranda, showcases the culture of the native rainforest people of Tropical North Queensland.Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park showcases the culture of the native rainforest people of Tropical North Queensland. It is the most awarded Aboriginal cultural attraction in Australia and is credited with enhancing reconciliation locally, nationally and internationally.

Guests at "Tjapukai by night" will dine on a beautifully presented buffet which uses the best of the region's fare, taking its influence from indigenous and native sources. The superb dinner is accompanied by great Australian wines. But first, you will be treated to a performance by some of the country's finest Aboriginal dancers. The dancing is a way of explaining some of the 'Dreamtime' legends, and guests will be invited to participate in an ancient corroboree ritual which climaxes in the ceremonial making of a fire.

There will be photo opportunities with the dancers, and also time to browse the award-winning Tjapukai gallery, before you are returned to your hotel, and your comfortable bed, safe in the knowledge that there will be no alarm clock ringing in the morning.

The waters of the Great Barrier Reef, in Tropical North Queensland, is populated by different species of fish and other animals. Snorkelling and scuba diving are a fantastic way to discover them.
Kuranda Scenic Railway will take you on a journey of discovery through Wet Tropics located in Tropical North Queensland.
A cruise on the Daintree River will reveal many of the hidden treasures of the Tropical Rainforest. Birdwatching and croc spotting tours are a must when you come to Tropical North Queensland.
Snorkelling and Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, in Tropical North Queensland.
The Baron Falls are an impressive waterfall located in Kuranda, Tropical North Queensland. Kuranda Scenic Railway offers spectacular views over Barron Falls.
The road to Cape Tribulation is a challenge. Many companies offer 4WD tours to Cape Tribulation, in Tropical North Queensland.
Many of the rock pools in Tropical North Queensland are a safe swimming option to croc infested rivers and beaches.