Live the island life
Just 27km off the coast of Cairns, Green Island is an extraordinary place. Home to a lush rainforest and surrounded by 710 hectares of reef, this was the first island in the state to be declared a national park. It is a perfect playground for adults and children alike, so enjoy a half or full-day exploring with Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises. Start with a rainforest hike before joining a snorkel safari to discover the many species of hard and soft corals and the colourful sea life that live in and around them. Prefer not to get wet? Take a trip on the glass bottom boat instead.
Explore an ancient volcano
When the Undara Volcano erupted 190,000 years ago, an incredible 23 billion cubic litres of lava flowed out, and you can still trace the after-effects today. At the Undara Volcanic National Park, around 3.5 hours west of Cairns along the Savannah Way, take the easy 2.5km Kalkani Crater Rim Walk for a birds-eye view: the thicket of darker vines follows the original flow of the lava. Then head to the Undara Lava Tubes, formed when the lava flowed downhill and the outer layer cooled more quickly than the fast-moving core, leaving a series of hollow tubes. The scale is surprising: take a walk through the Bayliss Cave which is 11 metres high and more than a kilometre long.
"Just 27km off the coast of Cairns, Green Island is an extraordinary place and home to a lush rainforest and surrounded by 710 hectares of reef."
Want to cool off in the tropical summer? The best place to take the plunge is in one of the area’s spectacular waterfalls. From Cape York to Cairns, head down a hiking track and you will often find a cascade waiting, often with butterflies dancing above the water’s surface. The Atherton Tablelands are home to some of our most magnificent waterfalls including Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls, where the water plunges over a series of lava columns. Closer to Cairns, Josephine Falls comes complete with its very own natural waterslide.
Swim with minke whales
One of the world’s rarest wildlife encounters takes place just once a year on the Great Barrier Reef, when dwarf minke whales migrating along the coast stop to greet swimmers. The encounter, which takes place in June and July, is the only place in the world where you can reliably interact with these curious creatures – although the name “dwarf” feels inappropriate for an animal that is up to eight metres long and weighs almost six tonnes. Armed with mask and snorkel and holding onto a rope, you simply float in the water and let the whales come to you.
"One of the world’s oldest rainforests, the Daintree is a magical place by day but even more alluring by night with FNQ Nature tours."
Discover the Daintree after dark
One of the world’s oldest rainforests, the Daintree is a magical place by day but even more alluring by night. You can explore both sides of this natural wonder on FNQ Nature Tours’ Daintree Afternoon and Nocturnal Tour. Starting in the afternoon with a cruise down the Daintree River, the excursion also includes a visit to Cape Tribulation Beach and a meal in the midst of the rainforest. Finish with a night walk to encounter some of the rainforest’s nocturnal inhabitants such as echidnas, rufous owls and northern brown bandicoots.
Image credits: Tourism and Events Queensland