Tours in Cairns
Long-established Ocean Spirit Cruises runs full-day tours to glorious Michaelmas Cay, a remote Great Barrier Reef sand isle encircled by fish- and turtle-filled coral gardens. Cruise out to the cay on Ocean Spirit, a 105-foot luxury sailing catamaran, for four hours of guided snorkeling, semisubmersible coral-viewing tours, and marine biologist presentations, with a full buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea, snorkeling gear, and reef tax included in the A$182 per person cost. Ocean Spirit departs daily from Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal. Transfers from Cairns and the Northern Beaches are available (A$19–A$26).
Coral Princess Cruise's comfortable expedition-style ships take no more than 50 passengers on three- (from A$1,347), four- (from A$1,685), and seven-day (from A$2,577) live-aboard trips, departing Cairns daily. Exclusive outer Barrier Reef moorings mean you see more of the marine life. Stops at Lizard, Dunk, and Fitzroy islands as well as CPC's own idyllic isle, Pelorus, allow you ample time to relax and explore. Friendly all-Aussie crew, dive guides, and an onboard marine biologist ensure scuba novices are up to speed and snorkelers are catered for. The per-person fare includes a glass-bottom coral-viewing tour, scuba skills sessions, snorkeling gear, twin-berth accommodation, all meals, and most activities.
BTS Tours runs various trips out of Cairns and Port Douglas (and shuttle services between the two). From Cairns or Port Douglas, the popular full-day Daintree tour includes a croc-spotting river cruise, canoeing, swimming in rain-forest pools, guided walks, and a barbecue lunch (A$160–A$165). You could also take a half-day Mossman Gorge tour, which includes a 90-minute Kuku Yalanji–guided rain-forest walk, bush tea, and free time to swim, sightsee, and explore the Gorge (A$72).
Advanced eco–certified Wilderness Challenge runs 12-day Outback Queensland & Dinosaur Trail tours departing Cairns or the Gold Coast (A$4,995 per person, twin-share, or A$5,845 sole use), and 5- to 12-day fly/drive trips to Cape York Peninsula during the dry season, May through early October. Two popular five-day, fly/drive rock-art and rain-forest camping safaris between Cairns and Cape York cost A$1,895 and A$2,295 twin-share, or A$1,995/A$2,445 sole use; seven-day accommodated Cape York tours are A$3,295 twin-share, A$3,915 sole use. Most tours visit the world-renowned Quinkan Aboriginal rock-art site near Laura and stay in bush cabins and/or safari tents. All tours have a maximum of 12 guests and two senior guides.
Eco-certified Down Under Tours makes various half- and full-day trips and four-wheel-drive excursions, as well as reef trips, river cruises, white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and hot-air ballooning adventures, most departing from Cairns. Popular guided half- and full-day excursions take in the attractions of Kuranda (A$195–A$204), Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (A$89), and Mossman Gorge, the Daintree, and Cape Tribulation (A$189).
Blazing Saddles Adventures organizes two-hour horse rides (A$120) and all-terrain vehicle tours (A$130). A full-day horse-riding and ATV touring is A$195, and includes transfers, morning tea, gear, and a barbecue lunch. Each rider pays insurance of A$15.
The Eastern Kuku Yalanji people have called the Daintree area home for tens of thousands of years, and have an intimate understanding of the terrain. Today the Kubirri Warra brothers pass on a little of that boundless ancestral wisdom on two-hour beach, mudflat, and mangrove walks (daily, 9:30 am and 1:30 pm, A$75) with Adventure North’s Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours. Learn techniques for throwing spears, tracking coastal food sources, and much more from your knowledgeable, skillful guides. The company also offers two-hour night spearfishing walks (daily from 7:30 pm, A$150), as well as tour combinations and themed options, including multiday packages. Transfers between the Port Douglas area and Cooya Beach, a 25-minute drive north, are A$30. On Adventure North's Daintree Dreaming Tours, you can explore Cooya Beach and coastal mangroves, World Heritage–listed Daintree rain-forest trails, and Mossman Gorge with the area's traditional owners (A$209).
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