Experience summer in the tropics with these 5 things to do in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef

This is sponsored content from Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.

Tropical Journey takes you into a livelier, more intense world of brilliant blue oceans, emerald green hills, colorful coral reefs and gentle warm rain. You can rediscover the joys of slow vacations where the rainforest meets the coral reef, where the summer landscape washes green and the puddles beckon.

Play, swim, explore, relax. Then get up the next day and do it all over again. Here are five great ways to experience summer in stunning tropical North Queensland.

Rejuvenate under a waterfall

In the humid tropics, you’ll have no shortage of waterfalls and cool watering holes to explore. The easiest place to get to is the scenic Atherton Highlands, whose waterfall circuit offers abundant opportunities for swimming, picnicking or diving.

Picturesque Millaa Millaa Falls offers classic Instagram moments, but for more rugged vistas, head to Zillie Falls and Ellinjaa Falls. South of Cairns, Wooroonooran National Park is another delight. The layered rocks of Josephine Falls offer a natural waterslide fun.

There are many waterfalls to explore in the Atherton Tablelands.

There are many waterfalls to explore in the Atherton Tablelands. Photo: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

sipping tropical fruit

You don’t know what fresh fruit is until you taste the juicy goodness of tropical summer fruit picked straight from the tree. With mangoes selling for $1 a kilo this time of year, there is every reason to succumb to repeated temptations. Pineapple, sweet papaya, and lychee are also abundant.

The best treat is to venture your taste buds to the market and pick up strange but wonderful tropical fruits that you may not have encountered before.

Abiu tastes like creme caramel and sapote is reminiscent of chocolate pudding. Sapodilla, canistel, soursop and acai cherries should also be on your list at Rusty’s Market in Cairns or Yungaburra’s.

Visit Port Douglas Market.

Visit Port Douglas Market. Photo: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

explore coral reefs

There are few travel experiences more magical than snorkeling or scuba diving above a coral reef, and the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef offers you the widest of them all. Summer offers calm seas and excellent water clarity.

You’ll find plenty of snorkeling and scuba diving excursions, and you can even try helmet diving. Swim with a 100kg giant potato cod or a 2m Maori wrasse, admire giant clams, watch manta rays fly by and see if you can spot Nemo among the corals.

If diving isn’t your passion, don’t worry—a glass-bottom boat tour will have you floating above the wonders. The aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef is also jaw-dropping: a kaleidoscope of turquoise waters and whirlpools of white sand.

The Great Barrier Reef offers you the widest range of coral reefs.

The Great Barrier Reef offers you the widest range of coral reefs. Photo: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

Relax in the rainforest

Formed over 180 million years, exploring the rainforest is a must to discover the amazing wildlife, lush greenery and opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in the many national parks.

No need to pay for fancy spa treatments: here’s nature’s steam room and rain shower to the soothing sounds of birdsong and the murmur of streams and waterfalls.

Butterflies are glorious, and among the unusual creatures are tree kangaroos. There are two distinct species in the area – the Lumholtz tree kangaroo, common in the Atherton Tablelands in Malanda Falls, Nerada Tea or rainforest near Yungaburra, and the Bennett tree kangaroo, found in Daintree. You may also spot cassowaries, most commonly found in Etty Bay, Mission Beach and Daintree.

Explore the rainforest in style.

Explore the rainforest in style. Photo: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

Meanwhile, a boat trip down the Daintree River is a must to spot saltwater crocodiles. At Mission Beach and Cape Tribulation, the rainforest stretches down to the beautiful coastline to a spectacular effect.

If sleeping among the trees (with an added layer of luxury) is on your wish list, visit Silky Oak Inn, a lush rainforest retreat adjacent to the iconic Daintree Rainforest. Take a look at this place and you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s popular with the rich and famous.

The 40 luxurious treehouse-style suites are nestled in the rainforest, ranging from stylish rainforest retreats to the luxurious Daintree Pavilion with its own infinity pool and two-bedroom wing. Take the term ‘forest bathing’ literally in your outdoor tub surrounded by lush greenery or looking out over the emerald waters of the Mossman River.

become a homeless

A magnificent stretch of golden sand stretches along the coastline, surrounded by rolling hills and picturesque palm trees. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, the sounds of a walk along the beach to the ocean will quickly decompress you.

You don’t have to go far. North of Cairns, favorites include Palm Cove, Ellis Beach and Kewarra Beach, while Clifton Beach is a locals’ secret. Jellyfish may appear in the water in summer, so swim in areas with nets.

Your worries will disappear on the island. Dunk Island’s beaches are fringed by coral reefs, and Nudi Beach on Fitzroy Island is considered one of the best beaches in Australia. Stunningly romantic sandbars include Mackay Cay, bird-rich Michaelmas Cay and the unique Vlasoff Cay.

Go stand up paddle boarding on Fitzroy Island.

Go stand up paddle boarding on Fitzroy Island. Photo: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

For more information on summer in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, including what to do, what to do and how to plan your trip, visit cairnsgreatbarrierreef.com.

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