Many people underestimate Cairns, not realising there are so many wonderful things to do there.
I lived in Cairns for nearly five years, and have spent many times throughout my life travelling back and forth from Cairns. And because I have family that live there, Cairns is always an easy place to go and visit. As you know you will always get a warm welcome, catching up with family and friends.
So, of course, as I was once a Cairns local, there are a lot of secrets there, many tourists don’t know about when they visit. Well, I am about to share with you five of my favourite things to do in Cairns, which aren’t listed in the tourist brochure.
Stoney Creek Waterhole:
A simple search on waterholes in Cairns, and you will be directed to a few of the main ones like Josephine Falls, Mossman Gorge or Crystal Cascade. Well, if your looking for something a little more secret then you need to go to Stoney Creek. Mostly used by locals, rather than tourists, this waterhole is fairly secluded. And, if you want to adventure further to an even more private waterhole, there’s an hour’s walk (medium difficulty) up hill to an even more secluded waterhole. Hmm, maybe sharing this is not a good idea, it may not end up being secret after all. The waterhole is located at the end of Stoney Creek Road, Kamerunga.
The Great Barrier Reef:
Okay, so the reef isn’t exactly secret. But, what I will share with you is which tour company you should use, as I have pretty much used them all. Even if you’re travelling with kids, you’re experience on the reef should be one of magic and wonder. Not stress, noise, chaos and too many tourists. Many of the tours are overcrowded with locals and tourists, so where the hospitality of the staff is still amazing, there is no personal touch to your travel. I definitely, no highly recommend you use Ocean Free. Ocean Free is a sale boat, that takes very small numbers out to the reef, and stays away from the main areas loaded with excessive tourists. So, you are guaranteed a very personal, intimate experience on the reef.
If you have never heard of Paronella Park, it’s an old Spanish Castle hidden in the stunning Rainforest, south of Cairns near Innisfail. Click here to read my previous story on Paronella Park. Now, you can actually find brochures on Paronella Park, however not many large tourist groups are taken to see this beautiful castle. When you get to Cairns, find a local tourist activity shop (there are HEAPS there) and ask for a brochure on the castle. There are a few small tour groups which specialise in taking people there in small numbers. Which is far better than being stuck on a bus with a large group anyways.
Yes, you can swim at the beaches in Cairns. Just not in Summer LOL. I know, I know, what’s the point of going to a tropical location in summer if you can’t swim at the beaches. Well, actually that’s what the the Reef is for and don’t forget the many waterholes to explore and swim at. Most of the jellies breed in the inlets and then swim out to sea, which is why the beaches are not that safe in summer. But if there are no jelly or shark sightings, then you’re good to go. Trinity Beach isn’t secluded, and it can get busy, but mostly with locals rather than a boatload of tourists. Especially as there aren’t too many hotels in the area. So, if you’re looking for a chilled out beach, this is the best one in Cairns.
This dam is one of the very few in Australia that you can still go visit and get pretty close to, without security fences and guards stopping you. If you live in Sydney, you know what I mean. I’m unsure if any tourists group go here, but you could definitely rent a car for the day and go. It’s worth it, even if it’s just for the views at the top. There is a great cafe there too, which serves a wide variety of food and drink to help you enjoy the experience even more. And make sure you take the time to walk down by the dam itself, and over the SUPER high metal planked wharf which allows you to walk across the dam. You won’t regret a visit here.
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