I vividly remember the first time I saw a photo of the Great Barrier Reef. It was then I decided if I ever snorkel or scuba, it will have to be in the Great Barrier Reef, no matter what. Today, I am so glad I did because it was the most beautiful experience I have ever had.
Cairns is located in tropical North Queensland and is famous for its luscious World Heritage rain forest, and is a gateway to the iconic Great Barrier Reef. The best time to visit Cairns is from June to October when the weather is pleasant and you can find affordable accommodation options.
Read on to find what you can do in Cairns in just three days and still make the most of your trip by covering everything Cairns has to offer.
Great Barrier Reef – The remarkable Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef with 400 types of coral, 1500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc. The reef is as magical and mesmerizing as it sounds. You can explore the Great Barrier Reef by boat or by doing a helicopter ride. We booked a full-day tour of snorkeling at the outer reef. You could also book scuba diving if you have enough time to spare between your flights (24 hours). It cost us $200 which included two dive sites in the outer reef, a glass boat along with breakfast, lunch, and snacks. It is slightly expensive considering it wasn’t scuba diving but nevertheless, it was worth it. We got to see a turtle and plenty of fish.
Even though the reef hadn’t spawned, the beauty of the reef was unexplainable in words. The sheer depth, crystal blue water and the sand island in the middle of the ocean made it the most memorable time of my life till now.
Josephine Falls – Josephine Falls is a short (one hour and 15 minutes) drive from Cairns City. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North Queensland. From swimming in the crystal clear waters to enjoying a natural water slide, Josephine Falls has everything that a nature lover enjoys. You can access it through a paved path through the rainforest and the swimming hole can be accessed through the rocks. However, be cautious while climbing on the rocks as they are extremely slippery and can cause serious injuries if you are not careful.
After enjoying the swim and the water slide, you can take advantage of the picnic facilities in the car park which has an electric barbecue and toilets.
P.S. – Only swim in the designated areas. There are restricted areas that are restricted for a good reason.
Crystal Cascades- Crystal Cascades is another magical waterfall in Tropical North Queensland. The local’s favorite freshwater swimming pool offers you calm waters for a relaxing swim in the lap of nature. It’s only a 20-minute drive from Cairns city and can be accessed through a paved path in the national park. There are lots of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and eels that you can spot on this path making it one of your favorite spots in Cairns. Unfortunately, there are no picnic spots but you can carry prepacked food and enjoy it by the waterfall. The falls are beautiful and make for a good stopover while traveling to Port Douglas. If you are not swimming, you can enjoy the scenic walk to the waterfall.
A day at Port Douglas- If you are in Cairns, you have to take the one-hour scenic drive to Port Douglas and explore this beautiful seaside town. In fact, you can even access the Great Barrier Reef from here and I have heard the views are even better than Cairns! It’s main beach, the picturesque Four Mile beach is nothing short of magic and you can witness a gorgeous sunset from the viewpoint. At Four-Mile beach, I felt like I was in Bali. Even though we didn’t have time to visit any restaurants, they looked so inviting, and most of them had outdoor dining. Very close to the restaurants is St Mary’s by the Sea, one of the oldest churches in Queensland. It was built in 1911 with white timber. If there are no weddings taking place, you must take a peek in this small quaint church and don’t forget to click an Instagram worthy photo here!
I would say if Cairns is a backpacker’s paradise, then Port Douglas is full of luxury. It has some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts in Queensland, completing changing the vibe of your trip.
AND when the sun goes down, I would recommend that you make your way to Cairn’s city and enjoy it’s nightlife as the fun doesn’t stop just at the reef. Visiting Giligan’s, the ultimate backpacker venue, goes without saying. The city has got some amazing clubs like The Woolshed, Pj O’Briens and The Courtyard amongst others.
If visiting clubs is not your thing, then you can take a stroll through Cairns night markets and the very famous, Esplanade. Buy those souvenirs from the night markets, grab an ice cream from Baskin-Robbins and take a walk on the Esplanade, and I guarantee that every cell in your body would be dancing out of utter happiness of just being there.
There are plenty of other things that you could do in Cairns such as taking a helicopter ride over GBR, skydiving, taking the Kuranda scenic railway or visiting the Daintree rainforest. However, I have shared everything that I did and now I want to hear from you.
What was your best memory of Cairns?
Until next time!! 🙂