Borderline Backpackers - 5 reasons Cairns should be on your bucket list
Updated: Jun 5
I’m sure you’ve heard of Cairns, and although I doubt it’s very high up on your travel bucket list, it really should be… This town lies in the tropical north of Queensland, Australia and fits snugly between two World Heritage listed sites: The Wet Tropics Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef. Despite the city feel within downtown Cairns, you’re never far away from lush green mountains and turquoise blue ocean views. Believe me, Cairns will continue to take your breath away, regardless of how long you stay here!
Here are our 5 reasons Cairns should be on your bucket list:
Daintree Rainforest: Welcome to the oldest living rainforest in the world! Located three hours north of Cairns, the Daintree offers a combination of over 700 unique plant and animal species, you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Start your day with a walk through the rainforest boardwalk, in search of these rare creatures:
CassowaryLumholtz Tree KangarooLesser Sooty OwlUlysses ButterflySpotted-Tail Quoll
On your way to Cape Tribulation, make sure to cross the Daintree River on a river cruise to spot wild crocs. Be careful down at the beaches though, because a girl was bit on the leg by a crocodile just earlier this year!!
Visit for the day, or spend the night… there is tons to explore in the Daintree. Don’t forget to visit the Alexandra Range Lookout of your way back, to really see where the rainforest meets the reef!
Atherton Tablelands: Perhaps you’ve never heard of the Tablelands before, but you would recognise this location from photos and videos. Nestled around pockets of the Wet Tropics Rainforest, the Atherton Tablelands are known for breathtaking waterfalls and unique swimming spots, which are popular amongst locals and tourists alike. Drive along the 17km ‘waterfall circuit’ and discover the natural wonders of this region.
Josephine Falls – You’ll find this mesmerising three-tier waterfall at the end of a 1km rainforest walk. We suggest trying out different poses as you rock slide down the bottom of this waterfall. Bring your camera, you’ll want to get them all on film for a laugh later in the day!
Lake Eacham – This freshwater lake is also a volcanic crater, and the perfect location for a late afternoon swim. Look out for turtles and the freshwater crocodile that lives here! Bring a floatie and relax in the warmer water, as you watch sunset in the distance.
Millaa Millaa Falls – This 18m waterfall was made famous by the Herbal Essence commercial involving a hair flip, and as a filming location for Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’. Swim under this breathtaking waterfall before trying your own hair flip photo.
There’s more to the Atherton Tablelands than just waterfalls and swimming though. Make sure to also discover the Curtain Fig Tree, wineries and lush walking trails for the ultimate experience.
Great Barrier Reef: One of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is as beautiful and diverse as you imagine it to be. The GBR is the largest coral system in the world, made up of 3000 individual reef sites and 900 islands, each with it’s own ecosystem. It’s so large in fact, you can see it from outer space! Cairns is where the Outer Reef runs closest to the shore, therefore attracting over 2 million visitors each year. Choose between a daytrip or an overnight liveaboard vessel, to some of the most beautiful locations on the reef, where you can swim, snorkel or scuba dive!
The Great Barrier Reef is the trip of a lifetime and not one you’ll want to miss, especially as more and more of the reef dies each year. If you’re able to, we highly recommend a scuba dive. You don’t have to be certified to scuba dive — many of the boat companies in Cairns offer what’s called an introductory dive. A dive-master teaches you about the equipment and safety on board a boat, and you get the chance to scuba down to 10 metres depth, for a 30 minute guided tour.
Nudey Beach: Recently rated ‘Best Beach in Australia’ for 2018, Nudey Beach is a 45 minute ferry ride from Cairns, on Fitzroy Island. Despite the name, you will find everyone at this attractive tropical island beach to be fully clothed (or at least in their bathing suits)! With soft white sands and turquoise blue water, Nudey Beach offers the opportunity to relax and soak up the sun, with a view – look out for turtles, dolphins and even whales, with the tropical Queensland mountains in the background. Bring your own snorkel and mask to search for brightly coloured fish off the coral shores. You won’t be disappointed by a visit to Nudey!
Backpacker’s Watering Hole: The natural wonders surrounding Cairns attract heaps of tourists and backpackers to the Australian town, all year long. Due to the tropical climate, and proximity to two world heritage listed sites, Cairns is an idea place for backpackers to start or end an East Coast adventure. It’s also the gateway to other adventure activities in the area, such as the only bungy jump in Australia, skydiving, rafting, canyoning and and horseback riding (so really, there are way more than just 5 reasons Cairns should be on your bucket list).
The hostels in Cairns are well known for being some of the most affordable accommodation along the East Coast, with most of them charging under $30/night for a bed. Whether you choose to stay in Cairns for one week, or two months, you’ll meet tons of other travellers here!
Make sure that you check out their website and follow them on social media.