12 Adventure Activities in Cairns

Cairns, located in Queensland, Australia might be best known for snorkelling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef, but they are certainly not the only adventure activities in Cairns.

Cairns is a paradise for adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies, offering an array of thrilling activities that will leave you breathless and longing for more.

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Types of Adventure Activities in Cairns

Whether you are a seasoned adventurer or a first-time thrill-seeker, Cairns has something to offer for everyone. I did some research before my own trip, and here are the curated results so that you don’t have to go and do all that searching for yourself.

Let’s take a look at the various heart-pumping activities you can enjoy in this tropical haven.


Cairns boasts some of the world’s most magnificent coral reefs, making it an ideal destination for snorkelling enthusiasts.

Grab your snorkel and mask, and dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, where you’ll be mesmerised by the vibrant marine life and colourful coral formations beneath the surface.

I recommend going out to the Great Barrier Reef with Down Under Cruise and Dive. They have a fantastic day trip that caters for snorkellers, stopping in two different locations on the Great Barrier Reef.

Scuba Diving

For a more immersive experience, scuba diving in Cairns is an absolute must. Explore the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, encountering an enchanting world of tropical fish, sea turtles, and other captivating marine creatures.

While I only snorkelled on my cruise with Down Under Cruise and Dive, many other people did a Scuba dive. They also offered introductory dives for anyone curious but not certified.

If you really want to get into Scuba diving, you can do a 4-day PADI open water course right here on the Great Barrier Reef – could you possibly learn anywhere more awesome?

White Water Rafting

Brace yourself for an adrenaline-pumping experience as you navigate the rapids of the Tully River or the Barron River. White water rafting in Cairns will surely get your heart racing and leave you with lasting memories.

Leaving from Lake Placid (I love that that is the name of a lake where white water rafting starts!) spend two hours paddling along the river, negotiating rapids up to grade 3.


Take the plunge and experience the exhilarating feeling of freefall from thousands of feet above the ground. Skydiving here at Cairns offers breathtaking views of the coast and lush rainforests as you come back to Earth.

Bungee Jumping

For the ultimate leap of faith, head to the AJ Hackett Cairns Bungy Tower and take a daring jump off the platform, surrounded by stunning rainforest scenery. The heart-pounding sensation of freefalling is matched only by the exhilaration of conquering your fear.

Choose from a world-first jump menu featuring 16 different jump styles, catering to even the most hard-core adrenalin junkie’s preferences.

Whether you’re a first-time jumper or a seasoned thrill-seeker, rest assured there’s a jump that will push you beyond your comfort zone and into exhilaration. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you take the leap, reminding yourself that you’re truly alive.

Hot Air Ballooning

Enjoy a serene and captivating ride above the Atherton Tablelands as you witness the sunrise over the picturesque landscape below during a hot air balloon adventure. It makes a perfect addition to any special celebration.

If you have not been hot air ballooning before, it’s one of those bucket list activities that everyone should try. I’ve done it twice now, in Cappadocia, Türkiye and the Barossa Valley, South Australia and it’s one of the most peaceful, calm and breathtaking ways to start the day.


Zip through the treetops of the Daintree Rainforest on a thrilling jungle surfing canopy tour, offering an up-close encounter with the diverse flora and fauna of this ancient rainforest.

This adventure kicks off with an exhilarating zipline ride, spanning between 15 and 130 meters in length. Feel the excitement of soaring through the breathtaking natural landscape, leading you to a 360-degree viewing platform for a spectacular view.

Conclude your adventure with an unforgettable dual zipline experience, where you can share the thrill with a friend, family member, or travel partner.

ATV Adventures

Get down and dirty as you ride through muddy trails and rugged terrain on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) adventure, exploring the beautiful countryside surrounding Cairns.

This tour combines a visit to a local working farm visit – and the ATV ride – with a trip on the Skyrail up to Kuranda, so a perfect opportunity to do both activities in one day.

Jet Boating

Embark on a thrilling “Bad Fishy” jet boat adventure along the Trinity Inlet in Cairns, departing conveniently from Cairns Marlin Marina.

The 35-minute ride offers extreme maneuverability, with spins, slides, high-speed stunts, and an exhilarating roller-coaster-like experience on the water.

Amidst the adrenaline-pumping fun, your local Cairns Skipper will also share fascinating insights about the region and its wildlife.

Dress in sun-safe clothing as you may get wet, and enjoy the boat’s great sound system playing cool tunes throughout the ride.

Horseback Riding

Experience the tranquility of nature on horseback as you embark on a guided horse riding tour through lush rainforests and along picturesque beaches.

Wildlife Tours

Discover the unique wildlife of Cairns through various tours, including crocodile spotting on river cruises, birdwatching, and visits to wildlife sanctuaries.

now not all wildlife tours fall into the “adventure” category, but if you are planning to check out the local crocodile it just might. There are a number of day tours that include crocodile spotting in them, but it’s not generally the main focus.

I did see a crocodile jetski trip advertised at the Cairns Marina but after seeing the crocodiles at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, that’s definitely a little too adventurous for my liking.

Instead, I recommend you go out to Hartley’s yourself and see exactly how powerful these creatures are. Their biggest croc, Zac, is five metres long and weighs 700kg. Imagine running into him on a river!

River Tubing

Escape the typical tourist spots and join the locals in Behana Gorge, where gentle waters flow under a canopy of trees, or opt for the excitement of small rapids on the Mulgrave River, all while under the watchful eye of two experienced guides ensuring your safety.

Spend a few hours immersed in the pristine stream, taking in the sights, sounds, and scents of the natural surroundings, for an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

In addition to all these thrilling activities, Cairns is also home to breathtaking natural wonders, such as the Daintree Rainforest, Mossman Gorge, and Kuranda, making it a destination that not only caters to adventure seekers but also those seeking a connection with nature.

Remember to prioritise safety during your adventures and follow the guidelines provided by the activity operators.

Whether you’re exploring the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef or soaring through the rainforest on a zipline, Cairns promises an unforgettable experience that will make your Queensland adventure truly exceptional.

So, pack your bags, buckle up, and get ready to create lasting memories in Cairns, where adventure awaits at every turn.

Read these other Cairns posts next
How to Get From Cairns Airport to City
Cairns Without a Car – 7 Must-do Tours
Great Barrier Reef Experience, Cairns


Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs

Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.

Hire a rental carRentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.

Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.

Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.

Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.

Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.

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