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4 Reasons to Travel to Stay in Cairns on Your 4WD Trip

10 July 2023

Tropical North Queensland is one of the top destinations for an Australian east coast 4WD trip. Full of many bucket list destinations, outback experiences, world heritage-listed locations, wet tropics and much, much more. Cairns is the gateway to Cape York and some of the world famous 4WD tracks. Tracks like the Bloomfield Track and the Old Telegraph Track. It is also a stepping stone to places like Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. But before you head off on your aussie adventure to ‘the tip’ make sure you start your journey in Cairns. While you are here, take a few days to soak in the natural beauty and cultural experience this city has to offer before heading off on your road trip. Cairns has something for everyone!

Here are just 4 of the many reasons to travel to stay in Cairns.

1. The Great Barrier Reef

When you visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, you can take part in a wide variety of activities. From snorkelling and scuba diving, to simply taking in the breathtaking sights from the shore, there’s something for everyone. You can also take a guided tour around the reef. Knowledgeable guides will point out interesting facts about the ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Explore the ocean without getting wet by taking a glass-bottomed boat tour. This offers an up-close view of the majestic marine life. The best part about visiting the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns is that it’s incredibly easy to do. There are many different companies offering day trips and extended excursions to the reef, so it’s easy to find one that suits your needs and budget. Whether you’re looking for a casual afternoon trip or a multi-day adventure, you’ll be able to find something that fits your schedule.

You could also treat yourself to a once in a lifetime experience of the world’s largest reef system from an aerial perspective. Enjoy an aerial tour of this natural wonder in a scenic flight over the premier attractions of the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll get to experience the beauty of the world’s most biologically diverse eco-system as you soar over its many coral islands, cays, and lagoons. With a vibrant kaleidoscope of colors, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-see destination for any nature lover.

2. Kuranda Scenic Railway

A stay in Cairns isn’t complete without seeing some of the city’s other beautiful natural sites. Take the Sky Rail or drive up to nearby Kuranda National Park. Here you can explore its lush rainforest landscape by trekking through its network of walking trails. Or, if you’re feeling brave, try some extreme sports! You can bungee jump off the nearby bridge over the Barron Gorge, or take helicopter flights over the area. No matter what activity you choose, you’re sure to get some incredible views as Kuranda National Park is surrounded by rainforest-clad mountains and beautiful cascading waterfalls.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

If you’re looking for an experience that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of city life, then enjoy a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. You’ll travel through 15 hand-carved tunnels and over 37 bridges as you make your way from Cairns to Kuranda, the village in the rainforest. During your journey, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Stoney Creek Falls, Barron Falls and the surrounding rainforest.

Kuranda Village

At Kuranda Village, you can explore the unique shopping opportunities, enjoy local cuisine and visit some of the amazing attractions in the area. The village has a variety of markets, including a daily flea market and two craft markets – Kuranda Original Rainforest Market and the Kuranda Heritage Markets. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants, and art galleries to explore. The village also has many interesting attractions like Bird world Kuranda, the Butterfly Sanctuary and Koala Gardens. A trip to Kuranda Village is not complete without a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or a tour on the historic Kuranda Train. Both are amazing ways to experience this picturesque destination and its stunning rainforest surroundings.

Kuranda is also home to many cassowary families and visitors are lucky enough to be able to sight them in the rainforest while engaging in bush walks, bird watching or just relaxing in the area.

To experience the magic of Kuranda, there are popular full day and half day tours available from Cairns.

3. Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tablelands 4WD Hire Cairns

Located in Far North Queensland, the Atherton Tablelands is a breathtaking destination for any traveller. With an abundance of lush rainforest and stunning waterfalls, the region is a paradise for outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. It may not be 4WD driving, but it worth the effort to get there and explore this area. There several waterfalls to visit in the area, amongst the many spectacular waterfalls in the Atherton Tablelands, including Millaa Millaa Falls, Ellinjaa Falls, and Zillie Falls. Take a day trip to explore these breathtaking natural wonders.

Aboriginal Culture

The landscape is one of great spiritual importance to Aboriginal people, with many sacred sites and stories that have helped to form the Dreamtime and are passed down through the generations. The local Aboriginal communities closely manage and protect the many cultural features and sites, supporting the strong connection to the land and its people. The Atherton Tablelands offers a unique and stunning landscape, rich in both natural and cultural heritage.


The Atherton Tablelands have a vast range of activities and attractions. You can take a guided tour or explore the area on your own to discover its unique beauty. Don’t miss Paronella Park, a unique garden setting where you can see a hydroelectricity plant. You will be surprised by how interesting and how beautiful the garden walks are. You can also take advantage of the region’s many walking trails and cycle paths.

Every Saturday, the Mareeba markets offers visitors a chance to experience the local culture and buy some souvenirs to take home. With over 200 stalls, there’s something for everyone.


The Atherton Tablelands is home to many beautiful lakes, such as Lake Eacham and Lake Tinaroo. Spend a day fishing, kayaking, or just relaxing by the lake. Or visit The Curtain Fig Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to an array of native wildlife species. Enjoy the day learning about the local wildlife and spot some of Australia’s most iconic animals.

The Atherton Tablelands is one of Queensland’s best-kept secrets. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a relaxing day away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this region has something for everyone.

4. Beaches

Fitzroy Island QLD 4WD Hire Cairns
Tropical North Queensland

Cairns boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. With white sand, stunning coral reefs and warm, inviting water, it’s the perfect getaway for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing. However, despite being the picturesque destination it is, visitors should be aware of the presence of crocodiles in the area. Although chances of an encounter are slim, saltwater crocs can be found in and around the waterways of Cairns and visitors to any of the beaches should practice extra caution when entering the water.

Trinity Beach

One of the most popular Cairns beaches is Trinity Beach. Located just 15 minutes north of Cairns, this beach is a great place to relax and take in the sun. Its white sands and crystal-clear waters make it the perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby if you’re looking for a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.

You could also visit Four Mile Beach, which is located just 10 minutes south of Cairns in Port Douglas. This beach has stunning white sands and is surrounded by lush rainforest. Here you can explore the beachfront boardwalk and enjoy swimming, snorkelling, surfing, and fishing.

Ellis Beach

Ellis Beach is another great beach located near Cairns. This beach is less busy than Trinity Beach and is known for its calm waters and stunning views of the Coral Sea. You can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing, and even stand-up paddle boarding.

Yorkeys Knob Beach

Yorkeys Knob Beach is one of the best spots in Cairns for swimming and snorkelling. This beach is also known for its stunning sunsets, so make sure you stick around until dark! Another option is to head out to Fitzroy Island for the day.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a tropical paradise, located about a two hour drive from Cairns. It is nestled between two World Heritage-listed rainforests on the coast of Far North Queensland. This stunning holiday destination offers spectacular white sand beaches and pristine coral reefs, perfect for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. Take a day trip out to Dunk Island, or relax in a hammock, read a book or cycle to the nearby national park. Mission Beach also boasts a vibrant nightlife and dining scene, with cafes and bars serving up gourmet food and drinks. There’s something for everyone, making it a great spot for a summer holiday!

Fitzroy and Green Island

Finally, fill your days exploring tropical islands Fitzroy or Green Island with an Island tour, where you’ll find secluded beaches and plenty of coral reefs.

Take advantage of your 4WD tour to the tip of Australia in Far North Queensland and make sure you stay awhile and explore the region on your next four-wheel-drive adventure. Make sure you also have the right hire car for your trip! Take a look at the 4WD hire cars we have available. For more information on the amazing beaches in Cairns, take a look at our blog 6 Must See Beaches around Cairns.