9 Careless things to do in and around Cairns

Cairns in Australia (not Cannes in France) is a beautiful seaside town, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef! I’m sure Cannes is beautiful too, but I haven’t been there yet.

While working on a banana farm for 3 months just North of Cairns, in a dingy town called Innisfail, my friend Hayley and I did a fair bit of exploring the region. At first, we didn’t see why people liked Cairns so much, but it’s charm really did grow on us in huge doses.

So here are my tips for you:

1. Don’t go swim in the ocean in Cairns, or any of the rivers nearby, there are CROCODILES, and lots of them. Either swim in the pool at the Esplanade, or wait until you are nice and far out in the Great Barrier Reef, where the sea is crystal clear, and the aquatic life is safe and beautiful.


2. Do go stay at Gilligan’s hostel and night club in Cairns if you are looking for a party. This is the main party hostel in Cairns and any young backpacker should spend at least one night experiencing it. It’s not my favourite place to stay, very big and commercial, and feels more like a resort than an intimate hostel, but it offers a great night out, and a free dinner included if you buy a any drink, so its worth it.

Gilligan's Hostel

3. Do go to the Great Barrier Reef: We were lucky enough to get this day trip for an incredibly cheap price through a friend that works out on the reef. But nevertheless, it is a MUST do. There are ways to do it for cheap, if you volunteer for a day, or a three day trip as a “hostie” on a dive boat, in exchange for the trip and the meals and the diving included.

Great Barrier Reef

4. Do go to Paronella Park: Paronella Park is a heritage site 120 kilometres south of Cairns. It is a castle that was built in the 1930s by a Spanish man, for his fiancé. It has a lovely story to it, and has been voted the number one tourist attraction to see in the area.
Paronella Park
5. Do go to Etty Bay. It is North of Cairns. A small little secluded beach, and if you’re lucky, you will get to see some Cassowaries. Don’t know what a Cassowary is? Well the saying goes “be wary of the cassowaries”. Click here for more info. Eeek I’m not a fan of big birds!
Angry Cassowary
6. Rent a car and drive through the Atherton Tablelands. There are loads of waterfalls and amazing trees, beautiful landscapes and rolling hills. What’s not to love?
7. Do go to Josephine Falls and Golden Hole, Babinda Boulders and Murray Falls. Need I say more? Waterfalls!!!! Everyone loves waterfalls. Have you ever been to a country and not been shown the waterfalls?
8. Mission Beach (stay at Scotty’s Backpacker’s) and go SKYDIVING!! We went on a girls weekend to Mission Beach. It’s a lovely remote town. You can get the Greyhound bus there. Easy peasy. Best of all (and I can’t believe I still haven’t done it), you can go skydiving in Mission Beach. Jump out of a plane at 14000ft, over the Great Barrier Reef, landing on sandy Australian shores.
9. Full moon party on Magnetic Island (stay at Base Hostel): This is another “party” experience. But you can also go here when it’s not Full Moon. The island itself is lovely. Catch the ferry across from Townsville. Rent a little bright pink buggy and let your hair blow in the wind as you cruise around, checking out beaches, saying hi to Koalas, and just lapping up the sunshine.
Magnetic Island Car Rental
…and that’s it… Go enjoy. Wear Sunscreen. Always smile.

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