Add these Cairns tours to your travel itinerary.
Don’t let all those laidback tropical vibes distract you from your travel goal: to see as much of Tropical North Queensland as possible. Cairns tours and day trips are a wonderful way to explore more but sometimes it’s nice to have someone else show you the way, sharing interesting information along the way.
From voyages out to the Great Barrier Reef and tasting adventures on the Tableland to a jet-ski excursion with crocs, here are the top tours to book in and around Cairns.
Whether you want to meet the local wildlife, learn something new or raise your adrenalin on the rapids, let go of the reigns and jump into one of these epic day tours.
Daintree River Cruise Centre: Ultimate Wildlife Experience
Perfect for: Nature fanatics
Take a journey on an acclaimed wildlife adventure cruise to fully immerse yourself in the Daintree Rainforest. Leisurely glide along the river as a local guide shares their expert knowledge about the unique tropical ecosystem.
Join a wildlife cruise in the Daintree to see the unique tropical ecosystem for yourself. (Image: Tourism and Events Queensland)
Along the way, you’ll see native wildlife such as estuarine crocodiles in their natural habitat. Complimentary morning or afternoon tea is included. Just a three-minute drive away is Daintree Ecolodge if you wish to pick up a deluxe picnic hamper or stop in for a spa treatment or cocktail class.
Reconnect with nature at Daintree Eco Lodge. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: $35 (adult), $17.50 (child) or $90 (family)
Address: 2914 Mossman – Daintree Road, Daintree
Tour duration: 60–90 minutes
Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre: Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk
Perfect for: Learning from our Traditional Owners
Discover the Indigenous side of the Daintree Rainforest and make your way to the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre to join a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk.
Admire scenic and cultural landscapes in the Daintree Rainforest. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
‘Ngadiku’ means ‘stories and legends from a long time ago’ in the local Kuku Yalanji language and the Dreamtime Walk provides a compelling narrative about the rainforest including a demonstration on how to use traditional medicinal plants as well as how to identify native food. Traditional tea and damper follow.
Discover the Indigenous side of the Daintree Rainforest on a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Afterwards, wander the national park at your own pace, navigating the different walking tracks and trails, including the popular Gorge Circuit.
Cool off at one of the calming swimming holes in Mossman Gorge. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: $95 (adult), $45 (child) or $445 (family)
Address: 212r Mossman Gorge Road, Mossman Gorge
Tour duration: Approximately 1.5 hours
Pacific Watersports: Kayak Turtle Tour
Perfect for: Marine life enthusiasts
On a Kayak Turtle Tour, paddle from Palm Cove across a glimmering stretch of the sea all the way to the reefs that fringe Double Island and Haycock Island.
Marine life enthusiasts should treat themselves to a Kayak Turtle Tour. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Your first stop is to see green and hawksbill turtles basking in the ocean followed by a trip to the shallows to see rays and shovel-nosed sharks. When the tide is right, the tour will also venture into a limestone cave dripping with stalactites. Once you’re back on land, enjoy lunch at one of Palm Cove’s tasty restaurants.
Spot green and hawksbill turtles while exploring. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: $99 (adult), $79 (child) or $300 (family)
Address: 73 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, or a transfer can be arranged
Tour duration: Approximately four hours from 7am
White Water Rafting Cairns: Tully River Rafting Tour
Perfect for: Thrill-seekers
One of the more creative ways to see some of Tropical North Queensland’s most stunning landscapes is on the world-renowned Tully River conquering awesome grade three and four rapids.
Ride the Tully River rapids with Raging Thunder Adventures. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Not only is a Tully River Rafting Tour guaranteed to thrill, but this full-day outing cascades at high speed through one of the most pristine pockets of rainforest on the planet. The day tour includes a hearty pub dinner.
Short on time? There’s also a half-day rafting tour on the Barron River.
Embrace a thrilling rafting adventure past stunning waterfalls. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: $259 per person
Address: Transfer pick-up from Cairns or Mission Beach, or meet in Feluga
Tour duration: From 10am – 10pm if departing from Cairns
Hot Air Balloon Cairns: Classic Hot Air Balloon Ride
Perfect for: Couple romance
Only taking half a day, a Classic Cairns Hot Air Balloon Ride with Return Transfers lets you experience something phenomenal, yet you’ve got the rest of the afternoon to enjoy at leisure.
Hover over Cairns on a thrilling hot-air balloon ride. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Offering 360-degree views of what looks like a little miniature world, a hot-air balloon ride over the Atherton Tablelands will change your perspective on the highland plateau. See ancient crater lakes that appear like murky potholes, tiny broccoli trees, and fertile farmland that looks like a rumpled fleece blanket balled up with little lint sheep. Receive a commemorative certificate and a glass of bubbles or juice with a breakfast snack on landing.
Marvel at 360-degree views of Cairns. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: $440 per person
Address: A transfer coach will pick up guests from any Cairns accommodation
Tour duration: Including transfer time, the day runs from around 5.30am – 11am
Taste your way around the fresh produce and flavours of Cairns’ local food scene on these delectable food tours.
Cairns Brewery Tours: Cairns Walking Brewery Tour
Perfect for: Beer lovers
If you want to stretch your legs and sip on award-winning craft beers and spirits along the way, join a guided Cairns Walking Brewery Tour to discover three unique microbreweries and a local gin distillery. Located in the heart of the city, all businesses are independently owned and locally operated with each venue offering its own amazing flavours and personal stories.
Hemingway’s Brewery pours first-class brews. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: $110 per person
Address: Starts from Hemingway’s Brewery, Cairns City
Tour duration: Available on Wednesdays and Fridays, and other days on request. 3.5 hours
No Limit Adventures: Cairns Tablelands Tasting Tour
Perfect for: A day of indulgence
Take your tastebuds on a tour of the Atherton Tablelands with No Limit Adventures to sample everything from native tropical fruits to organic tea and small-batch spirits produced in the vibrant, highland plateau.
Book the Crater Mountain Coffee tour and sample high-altitude Tablelands coffee. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
The tour also loops in a visit to Mungalli Dairy Cafe, Crater Mountain Coffee (the highest-altitude coffee plantation in Australia), and back down to Cairns microbrewery Macalisters, overlooking the cane fields. Tours run on request, on a private basis only.
Tour through the coffee plantations with No Limit Adventures. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: From $250 per person
Address: Transfer pick up from your Cairns accommodation
Tour duration: Departs Cairns at 7.30am and returns at 6.30pm
Daintree Food Trail
Perfect for: Independent wanderers
Got a few days up your sleeve for a self-guided tour? Embark on a delicious journey from Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation, following winding roads through farmlands and small communities to taste the best of the Daintree. From gelato and chocolate to barramundi and chorizo, the Daintree is home to an eclectic range of small farms, orchards, and growers often hidden from view. Celebrate fresh flavours and meet producers telling their stories.
Price: Purchase food items at your own cost
Address: The trail starts in Port Douglas
Tour duration: A few hours, days or weeks – it’s up to you!
Jet ski tours
Add a splash of excitement to your sightseeing of Cairns on a heart-racing jet ski tour.
NQ Water Sports: Guided Cairns Jet Ski Tour
Perfect for: Any age or experience who wants to see a different view of Cairns
Suitable for every age, have the ride of your life while enjoying unique views of the Cairns Lagoon on a guided jet ski tour of Cairns. Travel through Trinity Inlet and see an original Sydney Harbour ferry and pass multi-million-dollar boats as you cruise up and around Admiralty Island. There’s also the opportunity to pick up speed and see what these machines can really do.
Price: $100 for a solo tour or $160 for a tandem tour
Address: B Finger Marlin Marina, Cairns
Tour duration: 30 minutes
NQ Water Sports: Croc Spotting Jet Ski Tour
Perfect for: Adrenaline junkies
How fast can a crocodile swim? Not as fast as a jet ski, says NQ Water Sports owner Steve Singleton.
After a safety briefing, participants on the Croc Spotting Tour hit the throttle of their jet ski and follow Steve’s lead toward Admiralty Island in Trinity Inlet where, after hopping a few waves, they kill the engine and observe giant crocodiles sunbaking on the mud flats. One of the headline acts of the eco-tour is a 90-year-old saltwater crocodile, Jaws, who is about 4.5 metres long.
Price: $190 for a solo tour or $260 for a tandem tour
Address: B Finger Marlin Marina, Cairns
Tour duration: One hour
NQ Water Sports: Jet Ski Reef Snorkelling Tour
Perfect for: Anyone short on time
Combine the fun and adventure of a guided jet ski tour with exploring the Great Barrier Reef. After departing Cairns Marina, bypass the crowds and head straight to the Reef for a morning of discovery. On arrival, open your glove box for a quick breakfast snack while bobbing on your jet ski right above the reef itself. Don your snorkel gear and dive right in to take in the colourful sights.
Price: $250 for a solo tour or $320 for a tandem tour
Address: B Finger Marlin Marina, Cairns
Tour duration: Two hours
Great Barrier Reef tours
If you’d rather tour the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef on a boat than on a jet ski, there are plenty of tours to choose from. Here are a couple of our favourites that let you thoroughly sit back and enjoy.
Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel: Dreamtime Cruise
Perfect for: Exploring the Reef through an Indigenous lens
Join local Indigenous sea rangers on a Dreamtime Cruise day tour that cruises through the blindingly blue tropical waters to two reef sites off the coast of Cairns.
Explore stunning dive sites off the coast of Cairns. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
In addition to a guided diving and snorkelling tour, this experience is all about cultural immersion as the Gunggandji First Nations’ people share Great Barrier Reef creation stories, song and dance about their connection to country. The tour focuses on how Traditional Owners lived off the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. A buffet lunch is included.
Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel is a great family activity. (Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)
Price: $269 (adult), $139 (child) or $677 (family)
Address: Reef Fleet Terminal, Cairns City
Tour duration: From 8.15am – 5pm
Passions of Paradise: Full-Day Great Barrier Reef Tour
Perfect for: Those with a passion for Reef education
Walk down to Marlin Marina to meet the friendly crew onboard Passions of Paradise ready to whisk you away on an award-winning full-day Great Barrier Reef Tour.
Cruise from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef with Passions of Paradise. (Image: Tourism and Events Queensland)
The 25-metre catamaran sails daily from Cairns to two unique reef locations where passengers can try diving for the first time; enjoy a fully guided snorkel tour to see turtles, colourful fish and coral, and listen to a presentation from their eco-accredited marine naturalist about the Reef. A chef-prepared tropical buffet lunch is included.
Embark on a dreamy Cairns tour with Passions of Paradise. (Image: Tourism and Events Queensland)
Price: $240 (adult) or $150 (child)
Address: Marlin Marina, 1 Spence Street, Cairns City
Tour duration: From 8am – 5pm
The original article was written by Carla Grossetti and has been updated by Jemma Fletcher.