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How To Spend 48 Hours In Cairns

How To Spend 48 Hours In Cairns

You may know Cairns for a few reasons: its fun reputation, the place all the lads went on a footy trip, the fact it’s just a small boat ride from the Great Barrier Reef, or simply as a tropical escape from the colder months if you’re living south.

Whether flights are discounted or you’re looking to escape La Niña, Cairns should be right up the top of your list for a chill break away from normal life. Just over three hours from both Sydney and Melbourne, Cairns is calling out to us with open arms.

Want to visit but don’t know what to cram in? We’ve got you covered.

Here’s How To Spend 48 Hours (or more if you wish!) in Cairns.

Take a trip out to Fitzroy Island.

Credit: TTNQ

Whether you’re in for a half-day or full-day experience, Fitzroy Island is a must-visit location. From the scenic beauty of Nudey Beach, to the opportunity to swim with turtles up close and personal in the shallow waters that line the island (we saw two!) it’s a stunning day out for everyone: couples, families, friend groups, or singles. You can hire snorkel equipment onsite, or even try your hand at stand up paddleboarding — plus the Instagram shots will make all of your mates jealous.

Or, if you’re keen for a reef experience, set off on an all-day tour.

There is an abundance of reef tours that depart from the Cairns marina every morning, it’s just knowing which one to pick! Most cruises include a marine biologist on board, the opportunity to do a beginners scuba diving lesson, and of course, all your snorkelling gear is part of the package.

Personally, I’ve gone out to the reef with the team at Down Under Cruise & Dive, and it was an experience like no other.

Check out the night markets.

Credit: Tripadvisor

After a day of swimming and snorkelling, checking out the Cairns night markets is a must — from food and ice cream stores dotting the outside of the markets, to a variety of stalls offering massages, pretty trinkets, or even a psychic reading.

Dine in and treat yourself at Flynn’s Italian.

Situated conveniently near the night markets, Flynn’s Italian not only serves delicious locally-sourced food, but it’s right near the marina and ferris wheel, so why not treat yourself to a romantic ride after a nice dinner?

And for what it’s worth, I cannot recommend the prawn linguini enough. I still think about it weeks later.

Peruse the menu here.

Explore traditional lands on a Mandingalbay tour.

The Mandingalbay crew offer some really amazing tours, from their deadly dinners, overnight camping, to their half-day eco tour if you’re looking for something a little shorter to fit into your schedule.

The hands on experience is a way to explore the ancient lands and timeless culture, with the experienced guides covering a number of topics of cultural significance, and educating groups on the traditional uses of natural resources for living needs, medicinal purposes, and sustenance.

Find out more here.

Enjoy all the tropical fruits and products at Rusty’s markets.

Credit: Tripadvisor

Ever wanted to see a banana the size of your head? Maybe not, but you’re curious now, right? Rusty’s has you covered and is a fun, quick morning visit to take in all the local produce of this great area.

Get an adrenaline rush and on the world’s fastest canopy swing.


I am not what you’d describe as a “daredevil”, I’m more of a “let’s go to the beach and read a nice book” kinda girl. But even I’ve done the world’s giant jungle swing twice in my life and I’d do it again!

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Located right in the heart of the rainforest, you can strap yourself in (with a friend or two if you’re scared) and drop from 45 metres, soaring straight through the jungle reaching speeds of up to 120km/h for a rush like no other.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can also go bungee jumping, but in the words of Bob Katter, I ain’t wasting any time on that.

Find out more here.

Enjoy delicious locally sourced food at Ochre

Credit: Ochre, Instagram

There are a few things I think about consistently in life: that really dumb thing I said to someone on a date seven years ago, the upcoming My Chemical Romance tour, why I can’t get paid to go on holidays all the time, and the dinner I had at Ochre, in Cairns.

From salt and pepper crocodile, to roo satays, and tempura gulf bugs, the adventurous dining experience will be one to remember. Plus, GF patrons rejoice — the restaurant also has a gluten-free menu.

For more inspiration, head to Tourism Tropical North Queensland.

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