Two Days in Cairns and Great Barrier Reef, What to Do?

two days in Cairns what to do

Two Days in Cairns and Great Barrier Reef, What to Do?


Ok, two days in Cairns is not much time, but it is enough time to tick off 2 of the top 3 attractions. What are they? read on to find out!


“You will just have to make a choice on which attraction you will have to skip if you only have two days in Cairns. Dont worry there is no bad decision, you just need to choose a day trip that is appealing to you!”


What are the top 3 things to see and do in Cairns?


1 – The Great Barrier Reef.

2 – Kuranda by Scenic Train & Skyrail.

3 – Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Park.


Without a doubt, the first day should be a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. This is pretty much the number one reason to come to Cairns. The reef is at it’s closest point to the entire East Coast of Australia at Cairns.


How to Choose a Reef Trip?


There are three ways to choose a reef trip:


1 – Snorkel & Dive Boat:
Great for people who love the water and want to swim and snorkel on pristine coral reefs. Generally full day from 8:00am to 4:30pm.


2 – Pontoon, Floating Platform:
Great for people who want to see the reef but maybe don’t want to swim as much. Pontoons have Semi-Submarines, Glass Bottom Boats, Underwater Observatories and Snorkel Equipment.


3 – Sand Cay or Island:
Great for people with small children and people who enjoy the beach. You can snorkel from the shallow waters of the Island and then relax up on the beach.


Now to move onto the last 2 attractions. This is where you will need to really think about what you would like to do and see.


Kuranda Train & Skyrail:


Visit the small little village of Kuranda. I class this as a relaxed scenic day. A leisurely 9:00am bus pick up at your Cairns Hotel takes you to Freshwater Station. Here you board the Kuranda Scenic Rail a 1-hour and 15minutes train journey thru Barron Gorge. Kuranda village is small quaint little village nestled in the surrounding thick tropical rainforest. Here you will find markets, gardens, art studios and many small zoos. After 2.5 hours of exploring Kuranda you board the Skyrail a rainforest cableway with 2 stations to disembark and enjoy the views. At the bottom of the mountain, a bus will pick you up and take you back to your Cairns hotel arriving at 4:30pm.


“As mentioned above visiting Kuranda village on the Scenic Train & Skyrail is a relaxing experience with fantastic views”


Cape Tribulation & Daintree National Park:


Next, on the list of things to do in Cairns is visit Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Park. A day trip into this area consists of a bus picking you up at around 7am in the morning from your Cairns hotel. Day trips will visit the small tourist village of Port Douglas, The Daintree River Crocodile Cruise a chance to spot wild saltwater crocodiles. A visit to Alexander lookout offering spectacular views of Cape Tribulation beach and the thick tropical rainforest that surrounds it. You will enjoy the boardwalks with an experienced guide explaining many things about the local flora and fauna.


“A visit to Cape Tribulation is about a 12-hour experience, with boardwalks, river crossings, a boat ride and generally immersing yourself in the thick tropical rainforests.”



How to Choose between Kuranda or Cape Tribulation:


Easy how lazy do you feel? After a full day out visiting the reef, you might be feeling a little tired the next day. But you still want to do something. Then we recommend choose a tour to Kuranda Village.



If you are active, adventurous and really want to get into the thick of it choose a day tour to Cape Tribulation. A longer day but more about walking the boardwalks, looking for wild crocodiles and soaking up the thick tropical rainforest.



With two days in Cairns, you can definitely see the Great Barrier Reef & Kuranda Village or The Great Barrier Reef and Cape Tribulation. We have 2-Day Cairns tour packages that include both of these options. Visit our Cairns Tour Packages for more information. Otherwise feel free to give us a call on PH: 0740411635 or send and email:

Clint Carroll

Clint Carroll - Chief Travel writer and Scuba Diving enthusiast at Cairns Tour Info. Follow him on Twitter.

Do you need help choosing?

Can't decide? We have personally been on every Cairns reef and diving trip. We can help you choose the best tour, to suit your experience and budget.


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