caleb cairns sm


9 Reasons to visit Cairns this time of year

Published July 15th, 2015

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and hibernation seems like a fantastic option right now. You’d love to get away but unfortunately that tax return hasn’t arrived yet so you can’t quite afford to hit Europe or America to escape the winter blues.

Don’t worry; the sun is always shining in Cairns, the gateway to a playground of affordable fun and adventure in Tropical North Queensland. This action filled destination really does have something for everyone and below you’ll find nine reasons why sometimes the best times can be found in our own backyard.

Student Flights consultant Caleb van Schmal shares his Cairns insider tips:

Caleb (top right with paddle) white water rafting with fellow Student Flights consultants  Steph Wilson (SF Sydney Central), James Furlong (SF Randwick), Tiarna McCormack (SF QLD) and AJ Lawrence (SF QLD)

1. White Water Rafting on the Tully River

The gorgeous Tully River winds its way majestically through the North Queensland hinterland and provides some of the best rapids to be found in Australia. As you adventurously navigate tight crevices and wide open canyons, the beauty of the World Heritage rainforest surrounding you will take your breath away. A full day of white water rafting on the Tully is a must, and look for the XTREME option if you’re feeling brave. You will get wet!


2. AJ Hackett Bungy

No trip to Cairns is complete without a visit to the only Australian home of AJ Hackett. Recently voted Cairns’ best backpacker activity for three years running, AJ Hackett is famous worldwide for innovation with all things bungy related. Their Cairns bungy is a 50 metre thrill ride with a world first jump menu offering 16 different jump styles. Set in the midst of the tropical rainforest with spectacular vistas over the Great Barrier Reef, what better place to jump? If jumping isn’t your style, grab a friend or two and try the world’s fastest jungle swing reaching speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour, if you’re game enough to pull the release chord that is.


3. Sky Diving onto Mission Beach

Sky diving is the ultimate rush, how much better could it get? From up to 14,000 feet in the air, the views of 14 kilometres of pristine white beaches, amazing rainforest, the impressive Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding tropical islands will be seared into your memory for a life time. Mission Beach is absolutely gorgeous and what better place to land after one of the biggest thrill rides of your life. Only the adventurous need apply.


4. Fitzroy Island

Don’t be fooled, although there is an enormous man-made lagoon right on The Esplanade perfect for lazing away a sunny afternoon, there are no actual beaches in Cairns itself. For a beautiful beach away from the hustle and bustle, pop over to Fitzroy Island for the day, just an hour ferry ride away. A quick 20 minute walk through the forest will see you hit Nudey Beach where at least minimal clothing is definitely recommended. Quiet, peaceful and picturesque, Nudey Beach has stunning white sand and perfect aqua blue water. Ideal for a relaxing picnic lunch with a loved one or group of friends; just don’t forget the sneaky bottle of wine.


Turtle selfies!!!! Great shot @colindavisphotography :) #GBRaustralia #GreatBarrierReefQLD Photo selected and shared by moderator: @islandjems || Please check out the gallery of our featured instagrammer! // Want to be featured on our page? Follow us and tag your reef and pictures of paradise with #gbraustralia or #greatbarrierreefqld @greatbarrierreefqld to give us permission to repost. Check out @earthadventure and @eatsleepscuba for more great pages. #exploreTNQ #thisisqueensland #thisismyparadise #seeaustralia @australia @tropicalnorthqueensland @queensland #greatbarrierreef #australia #australiagram #exploreaustralia #exploringaustralia #beautifuldestinations #insta_exploring #ic_adventures #instaworld_love #naturephoto #wonderful_places #awesomeearth #worlderlust #natureaddict #naturewhisperers #nature #beautiful #reef #beach #animal #scuba #scubadiving

A photo posted by Great Barrier Reef, Australia (@greatbarrierreefqld) on

5. The Great Barrier Reef

One of the natural wonders of the world and absolutely epic in scope, the reef is a must do for any visitor to Tropical North Queensland. With crystal clear waters and a wide array of marine life and coral, any day spent on the reef is a day spent in awe-inspiring surprise. Passions of Paradise offers fantastic day trips out to the reef on their 82 foot catamaran for a full day of exploration with a sumptuous buffet lunch included. With world class snorkelling and diving on offer, it’s no wonder the Great Barrier Reef remains one of the biggest drawcards for visitors to Australia.


6. Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Park

The Daintree is home to some of the oldest rainforest in the world and, even better, this World Heritage listed site is located right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Cape Tribulation is the picturesque village where these two amazing sites meet, forest melting into the sea. Untouched by pollution and urban development, this area is a great location to book an eco-lodge and truly get away from it all. With activities including zip lining, horseback riding, bush walking, kayaking, swimming at deserted gorges and crocodile spotting along slowly flowing rivers.  Unwind and let nature at its very best take over.


Refresh #summer #portdouglasdaintree Pic by @gypsea_lust A photo posted by #portdouglasdaintree (@portdouglasdaintree) on

7. Port Douglas

While Cairns attracts the backpacker hordes, Port Douglas is a more peaceful and relaxing alternative. With pristine beaches and stunning resorts, Port Douglas is the more upmarket destination in North Queensland, catering for those who have a bigger budget to play with. Fantastic for golf, tennis, kite surfing, and all the other water sports you can think of, Port Douglas is the chilled out Lennox Head to the crazier Byron Bay vibe of Cairns.

8. Cultural Experiences

The Aboriginal culture is alive and well in Tropical North Queensland and it would be remiss to visit without immersing yourself in the history and ways of life of the Aboriginal people. Adventure North offers intriguing 1-3 day cultural excursions to the beautifully untouched Cooktown, one of Australia’s last great frontiers between outback and modern Australia. They also offer a variety of one day Bama Way Aboriginal Tours, allowing visitors to experience Tropical North Queensland through the eyes of the people who have been its custodians for tens of thousands of years. These experiences are both moving and a great learning opportunity.


@glover_official raising the roof at #gilliganscairns on Saturday for #clubbersguide #gloverlover

A photo posted by Soapbox Artists (@soapbox_au) on

9. The Nightlife

As the old Alicia Bridges song goes “woah-oh-oh-oh, I love the nightlife, I got to boogie!” Cairns offers one of the best nightlife locations in Australia with a stream of bars, clubs and restaurants piled along the marina and town centre and a never ending party crowd ready for action. After long days filled with activity and adventure, you will certainly be ready to let your hair down and go a little wild. Gilligan’s is the biggest backpacker hostel in Australia and puts on a party like you’ve never seen before in its thumping nightclub; The Woolshed has an old school down and dirty vibe that will have you on the dance floor within seconds of arrival; and The Reef Hotel Casino offers a fantastic chance to spend your money quickly. The bars and clubs in Cairns stay open late so it’s best to line your stomach first with dinner in one of the many delicious restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisines. Be prepared to back it up night after night, there’s no rest for the wicked in Cairns.

Caleb van Schmal

Working for Student Flights gives me the ultimate base from which to explore my passion for all things travel related. My wanderlust has no cure, but luckily travel is the only purchase which will make you richer.