From Mission Beach just south of Cairns all the way up to Cape York and the Torres Strait, the tropical north offers a swathe of attractions ranging from beach bumming and spa pampering to diving and adrenaline-fueled white water rafting. With so much to choose from it can be tough making a decision about what to see and do. Here’s a Top 5 list of our favourite not-to-be-missed experiences.
The Great Barrier Reef
Dive, snorkel, sail or cruise around the world’s largest and most spectacular coral reef system. Boasting over 6,600 species of flora and fauna, the reef is Australia’s most popular natural attraction. As well as exploring underwater, you can visit or stay on one of the many tropical islands dotted around the Reef.
The Daintree/Cape Tribulation
The Daintree is an ancient tropical rainforest that meets the sea and is home to over 3000 species of animals and plants. The forests lush foliage make it the perfect habitat for many rare species, and wildlife spotting – especially at night – is a top activity here. Explore the area on foot, by kayak, on horseback or on a 4WD tour.
Just two hours south of Cairns, Mission Beach is a quiet seaside town that hugs a 14-kilometer (mile) stretch of coast backed by rainforest. Take a canopy walk through the rainforest, hike its many trails and keep an eye out for the endangered Southern Cassowaries.
Cairns is the jumping off point for all of the Tropical North’s fantastic attractions. Many visitors choose to base themselves here and take day trips to the surrounding rainforest and reef. Cairns has a laid-back, tropical feel, plenty of restaurants and shopping, and a large open-air pool on the Esplanade lagoon.
Port Douglas is a pretty resort town about 70km north of Cairns. Popular with families, couples and Australia’s celebrity set, “Port’s” compact main street is filled with boutiques, cafes, stylish accommodation and restaurants and comes complete with a pristine beach at the end!
Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s Cairns & the Tropical North tours & things to do, especially Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns, and Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary Day Tour.