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Cairns has a strong reputation as the best outdoor adventure travel destination in Australia and it is with good reason. There is so much on offer for travellers who love being active. 

Cairns is ideally positioned to be the capital of outdoor adventure travel experiences in Australia with plenty of flowing rivers and coastline for water sports and an abundance of rainforest and various terrains for other activities.

Consequently, more and more sports events are now being held in the city including the annual Cairns Adventure Festival, which encompasses the Ironman Challenge, and in 2014 the city hosted the world mountain bike championships.

So, if you like being active and/or adventurous when you travel, here’s our rundown of the top 10 adventurous things to do in Far North Queensland.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]1. Mountain biking[/headline]

The mountain bike trails in Smithfield (on the northern side of Cairns) are world class and will definitely give you a good work out. Bikes can be hired nearby. There are also some great trails up in the Atherton Tablelands.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]2. Bungy jumping[/headline]

cairns bungy jumpingWhen New Zealander AJ Hackett decided to build a bungy centre in Cairns, he chose a great location because this is a truly beautiful place to throw yourself off a high platform.

As you stand with your toes along the edge, you can see a beautiful aqua pool below, rainforest all around you and views that stretch out above the canopy to the city and Great Barrier Reef.

There is also a good bar at the bottom where you can hang out and watch other people jumping. And, it’s also worth giving the Minjin Swing a go too. You can swing as a group of 3 and there’s a couple of seconds of freefall so its pretty good.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]3. Cairns Zoom[/headline]

If you’re short on time and want to do something in town to get the blood pumping, go and give Cairns Zoom a try above the casino.

There are four different activities but if you like adrenaline activities, just go for the high ropes course and the power jump. You might be surprised at how good it is! I’ve even seen fully grown professional sportspeople enjoying the challenge of ziplining over a crocodile enclosure.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]4. Sky diving[/headline]

cairns skydivingYou can’t beat the rush of a skydive and what better way to enjoy the fabulous views of the Cairns region, Great Barrier Reef and Mission Beach.

Tandem skydives are available through Skydiving Cairns.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]5. Hang gliding/micro-lighting[/headline]

If you want a bit more time to enjoy the views as the wind blows through your hair, why not try one of the trips offered by Updraught. They do both tandem hang gliding and micro light tours between Cairns and Port Douglas.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]6. Kite surfing/paddle boarding[/headline]

The area around Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas is one of Australia’s best kite surfing destinations. Get in touch with local business called Windswell if you are interested in going somewhere a bit different – the owner Brett loves discovering new places and has the local knowledge to create a tour just for you.

They also offer stand up paddle boarding in lots of interesting locations including rivers, lakes and wetlands so if the wind is not in your favour you can just hop on a paddle board instead.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]7. Jungle surfing[/headline]

jungle surfingIt’s about a 3-hour drive from Cairns, but the Jungle Surfing Tours in Cape Tribulation are a fun way to experience the Daintree rainforest.

It involves skimming along on a series of ziplines high above the canopy of the rainforest.

If you’re a hardcore adrenaline seeker you may find it a bit tame (my daughter did it when she was 3 years old!) but it’s still a fun day out, especially if you team it up with another activity.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]8. White water rafting[/headline]

You can’t beat a day white water rafting, especially in the wet season. LOVE it.

There are two companies that do white water rafting tours in Cairns. Raging Thunder do full day tours to the Tully River. Tully is about 2 hours drive south of Cairns so it means quite a few hours on a bus but you do get 3 hours rafting on this grade 4 river.

Foaming Fury offer rafting trips on the Barron River. You get about 1.5 hours rafting on the river. It’s slightly less challenging (grade 3) than the Tully but the drive to get there is only about 30 minutes.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]9. Kayaking[/headline]

There are several opportunities for getting a kayaking fix in FNQ. Ingan Tours do guided tours down the Bulgan Creek in Tully (2 hours south of Cairns) or you can hire kayaks on Copperlode Dam in Cairns.

Sea kayaking is also available on Fitzroy Island, from Mission Beach across to Dunk Island and a number of other beach venues including Cape Tribulation.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]10. Jet skiing[/headline]

There are a few places where you can do jet skiing tours in the Cairns area – mostly down the Trinity Inlet where you can go croc spotting or you can take off from Palm Beach.

There are some awesome islands and deserted cays you can access on jetskis around Cairns but unfortunately you can’t travel that far out on rented jetskis.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]11. Canyoning[/headline]

cairns canyoningOne of the great features about the geography of FNQ is the creeks and swim holes and one of the best ways to enjoy these areas is on a canyoning tour.

There are two operators now offering canyoning tours near Cairns: Behana Days run tours at Behana Gorge and Cairns Canyoning (Raging Thunder) operate at Crystal Cascades.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]travel nq fast facts:[/headline]

  • These are our top activities but there are many other water sports and outdoor adventure travel tours available in FNQ.