Rainforestation Nature Park, Kuranda, Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland
Top things to do in Cairns with kids
Show the family a good time in the tropical city of Cairns.
By Leah Dobihal
Equal parts adventurous and relaxing, Cairns is a great destination for families of all ages. Kids will never be bored with reefs to explore, wildlife to see and playgrounds to climb.
Check out how to make your next family holiday to Cairns an unforgettable one.
Wander a vibrant market
Open from Friday to Sunday each week, Rusty's Markets are the perfect place for the whole family to meet friendly local vendors, taste the freshest local produce and gaze at an array of local curiosities. Run amuck with the kids through rows of over 180 stalls, pointing out quirky souvenirs, trying on new accessories and delving into scrumptious local eats.
Go under the sea at Cairns Aquarium
There’s nothing more magical than seeing the underwater creatures of the Great Barrier Reef – no matter your age. At Cairns Aquarium, located in the heart of the city, give your kids the excitement of watching fish, sharks, manta rays and more dash, dive and glide through the expansive enclosures. Go on a search for the colourful coral and orange clownfish they’ve seen in Finding Nemo, and learn from the experts at presentations and hands-on experiences.
Explore the Great Barrier Reef
One of the best ways for kids to get invested in natural environments is to experience them first-hand. That’s why a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a must-do for families visiting Cairns. The Moore Reef Day Tour by Sunlover is the perfect choice. Enjoy a day jam-packed with exciting activities for both kids and adults, like snorkelling, fish feeding presentations and even the Great Barrier Reef’s only waterslide.
Get active at Muddy’s Playground
There’s fun to be found every day of the week at Muddy’s Playground, located on the Esplanade. The playground includes water splash pads, rope bridges, slides, playhouses, storytelling areas, puzzle games and more. Nearby is Muddy’s Café for a post-play lunch.
Find family fun in Kuranda
A charming rainforest village located just 30 minutes from Cairns, Kuranda makes for an ideal family day trip. The list of activities is impressive, and the mountain climate means you can escape the coastal heat. Get up close to incredible native wildlife at the Butterfly Sanctuary and Koala Garden, or ride one of Australia’s most unique rails on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. If that’s not enough, peruse colourful markets, watch a Pamagirri Dance Performance at Rainforestation Nature Park and marvel at the world’s oldest rainforest from a Skyrail cable car.
Swim in the Esplanade Lagoon
One of the most picturesque attractions in Cairns, the Esplanade Lagoon welcomes families for days of swimming and splashing. The lagoon is filled with saltwater pumped in from Trinity Lagoon and is patrolled daily by lifeguards, making for a safe aquatic environment. Enjoy the shallowest depths at just less than a metre (32 inches), and bring along some goodies to cook up on one of 12 public barbecues located nearby.
White water raft down the Barron River
Is your family an adventurous bunch? Then river rafting should be on your list. Foaming Fury offers a half-day family tour that’s specifically designed for kids aged six to 11. The tour takes on rapids graded level one and two, making for a rafting experience that’s safe yet thrilling. Families with older children (ages 12 and older) can opt for the half-day tour that paddles through foaming white water on up to grade three rapids.
Discover Cairns by bike
Whether you peddle across the Esplanade or explore nearby lakes and villages, biking is a great way to explore more of Cairns. Hire a few bikes from Cairns Scooter and Bicycle Hire and traverse one of many recreational bike paths around the city and surrounds.