Skip to main content.

Cairns - A Tropical Paradise Starring Reef and Rainforest

Find a place to stay

Located between the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, Cairns makes the perfect starting point for families on voyages of discovery. When it's time to relax, there's a host of parks, playgrounds, and swimming spots where the kids can let off steam.

Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef with the family


Vividly coloured coral and a vast spectrum of marine life make a tour of the world’s largest reef system a must. The Great Barrier Reef is home to hundreds of fish species, including colourful clownfish, as well as whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. You can scuba dive or snorkel, or stay dry and take in the underwater wonderland from a glass-bottom boat or underwater observatory.


Reef Experience


Reef Experience offers family tours for everyone from toddlers to grandparents, with unlimited snorkeling and a glass-bottom boat tour.


100 Abbott Street, Cairns QLD 4870Tel: +61 7 4037 2700


Reef Experience website

Exploring the Cairns rainforest with the family


Skyrail lets you glide above the treetops for a bird's-eye view of tropical rainforest and waterfalls. Your ride ends at the village of Kuranda, where you can browse the Heritage Markets. Kuranda Scenic Railway, operating since 1891, takes you on a winding journey through the forest and across precipitous gorges back to Cairns.




You'll glide over the rainforest canopy in a comfortable 6-person gondola, with stops at Red Peak and Barron Falls where you can hop out and explore.


Corner of Captain Cook Highway and Cairns Western Arterial Road, Smithfield, QLD 4878. Tel: +61 7 4038 5555


Skyrail website


Kuranda Scenic Railway


You'll enjoy panoramic views of the rainforest, waterfalls, and Barron Gorge on this 2-hour journey between Cairns and Kuranda.


126-144 Bunda Street, Cairns QLD 4870. Tel: +61 7 4036 9333


Kuranda Scenic Railway website


Animal encounters in Cairns


The country around Cairns is home to a myriad of wildlife, and there are lots of opportunities for you and the kids to get up close to animals. Birdworld Kuranda has rainbow-coloured lorikeets, endangered cassowaries, and more. At Cairns Tropical Zoo you can cuddle koalas, watch crocodiles being fed, and even hold an alligator or snake.


Birdworld Kuranda


Birdworld is just a few steps from the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and Kuranda Koala Gardens - where you can also meet wombats, crocodiles, and snakes.


Heritage Markets, Kuranda QLD 4881. Tel: +61 7 4093 9188


Birdworld Kuranda website


Cairns Tropical Zoo


Start the day in the company of koalas at “Breakfast Time at the Zoo,” or feed, hold, and pet the animals on the “Zootastic 5” wildlife encounter.


Captain Cook Highway, Palm Cove QLD 4879. Tel: +61 7 4055 3669


Cairns Tropical Zoo website


Great play areas for children in Cairns


Cairns offers plenty of spots where you can relax while the kids run wild - and it needn’t cost you a cent. The Lagoon - in the centre of town - is a free artificial salt-water swimming pool with space for over 1,000 swimmers; just look for the giant fish sculptures. There’s a lifeguard on duty so it’s safe for children. At Muddy’s water playground, the kids can splash around as well as climb rope bridges, ride a flying fox, and lots more.


Muddy’s Cafe


Mum and dad can relax over coffee or a meal, and take in the views of Trinity Inlet, while the kids have fun in a playground. Muddy’s also has children’s menus.


174 Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870. Tel: +61 7 4051 0388


Muddy’s Cafe website