12 reasons to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.
Winter is almost upon us and if you are looking into a balmy escape up to FNQ this is the perfect time. In fact, the best time to visit Cairns is between June and October if you too want to take advantage of the dry season and absence of marine stingers. And with reef expeditions, new hotels, and wildlife experiences, Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef is the perfect winter holiday destination and we’ve rounded up twelve of the new must-see experiences.
1. Crystalbrook Collection’s newest hotel
Flynn, the social butterfly of the Crystalbrook Collection’s portfolio of hotels provides chic accommodation. The Cairns Esplanade hotel offers travellers great views of the Coral Sea from their balcony, glass-bottom hotel pools, a 24-hour gym or the ultimate tropical escape in the top three floor suites of the Esplanade tower with large balconies to laze the day away. Flynn’s Boardwalk Social offers market-style gourmet food and live music.
2. Reef expeditions launched
With no more than 72 passengers, Coral Expeditions has launched a series of new seven-night sailings onboard the Coral Discoverer from Cairns. The nature-based expeditions will take small groups to explore the pristine outer reefs and lesser-known islands of the Great Barrier Reef under the guidance of an expert team including a Master Reef Guide.
3. New Wildlife Habitat exhibit
Wildlife Habitat has opened Rainforest Habitat to give guests the feeling of being in the rainforest while they spot birds and native animals from the exciting new Licuala Tower and Birdseye Bridge. Celebrating the Port Douglas wildlife park’s 30th birthday, the attractions add to the recently completed Nocturnal Habitat, Predator Plank and two new aviaries.
4. Folk music live on the Tablelands
Queensland’s longest-running folk festival, the Tablelands Folk Festival in the picturesque heritage village of Yungaburra returns for a socially distanced weekend of live music on October 23-25. This year musicians, singers, songwriters, poets and bands from across the State will grace the stage on the Atherton Tablelands for a totally Queensland event.
5. Soak up the rooftop view
Enjoy the best views of the Cairns Lagoon from Oak & Vine, the rooftop bar of the newly opened Oaks Cairns Hotel in the heart of the city’s Esplanade. The cocktail bar serves Nikkei cuisine, a unique blend of Peruvian ingredients crafted with Japanese techniques and showcasing local produce in dishes like snapper ceviche and baby pork spiced ribs.
6. Kids can learn to dive
Children aged eight and over can learn to dive with Seal Team, a five-week PA DI scuba diving course run by Divers Den. The Seal Team does an Aquamission once a week at the renovated training centre in Cairns city. The program follows on from the popular Scuba Kids program launched in June.
7. A modern look at the ancient rainforest
Interactive signage including 3D effects and spinning totems bring to life the story of the world’s oldest rainforest at the Daintree Discovery Centre. The Centre’s Canopy Tower has undergone a makeover to add to the experience of walking through all levels of the rainforest on the Aerial Walkway and Canopy Tower.
8. Compete in an ocean swim
Turtles often join in the annual Great Adventures Green Island Ocean Swim with 1.5km and 3km events as well as a shorter 500m swim for children and novices. Held on October 18, the registration includes your transfer to Green island where you can spend the day exploring the only coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef with a rainforest.
9. Local language signs in Douglas Shire
Bilingual signs featuring Kuku Yalanji language are being installed in the Douglas Shire to highlight the region’s rich Indigenous culture. Visitors will learn the local name for iconic places like Cape Tribulation, which is known as Kulki, through the Indigenous Language Signage Program, a partnership between Douglas Shire Council and Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation in Australia’s only Eco Certified Destination.
10. Twilight tours reveal nocturnal critters
Cairns Aquarium has launched Aquarium by Twilight showing how animal behaviours adapt from day into night. Offering exclusive after-hours entry, the ecologist-guided tour takes visitors through 10 tropical ecosystems to observe fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles adjusting to the onset of dusk. A three-course dinner at the onsite restaurant Dundee’s is included.
11. Relax in a rainforest treehouse
Daintree Ecolodge has ‘elevated’ their rainforest tree houses to a new level of luxury with a makeover of the bayans. The Lagoon Bayans has a private screened balcony looking out on to the rainforest and the Rainforest Bayans have a private outdoor bathtub where the sights and sounds of the world’s oldest rainforest can be enjoyed.
12. Scenic multisport challenge
Paddle, run and mountain bike through the World Heritage areas of the Cassowary Coast in the Ona Mission Multisport Adventure on October 25. Run Mt Kootaloo on Dunk Island and the wide sandy beach of Mission Beach, ride through the world’s oldest rainforest and paddle in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for an adventure in nature’s playground.