No shortage of sunshine and warm, stinger-free waters make tropical Cairns an extremely alluring spot as winter starts to chill the rest of the country.
The idea of lazing on an idyllic palm-fringed isle, snorkelling off a sandy cay or soaking beneath a rainforested waterfall is the stuff of dreams, and it’s all within reach of Cairns.
Whether you want to indulge in a long-awaited, bucket list adventure or stick to self-guided, do-if-yourself daytrips, Cairns tempts travellers with a long list of activities that beckon you to the water’s edge.
There’s a good choice of affordable caravan parks within the city itself, a popular beachfront camp at Palm Cove, 20km north of the CBD, and a shady island camp just offshore that provide the ultimate tropical escape.
Snorkel the Coral Sea
A patchwork of deep blue and pale green, the sea off Cairns is a hotbed of colourful underwater life. Accessible by boat in under two hours, popular Norman, Saxon, Hastings and Michaelmas Reefs harbour diverse coral ecosystems where snorkellers and divers mingle with reef sharks, blue-spotted rays, green sea turtles and hundreds of fish and coral species.
Every morning, high-speed catamarans and more leisurely-paced sailing vessels depart Cairns, some docking at reef pontoons for the day while others anchor off two or more different reef sites. Snorkelling daytrips are priced from $160-200 per person and might include guided snorkelling adventures, glass-bottom boat tours, and for an added fee, scuba diving lessons.