This is a guest post from Hayley over at Hello Frankie Dean, a family of adventure loving travellers exploring Australia. They recently spent some time up north and below Hayley shares some of the best spots in Cairns with kids in tow.
Cairns with Kids
I love learning a new acronym. Who knew QLD also had an FNQ? I love it – Far North Queensland. This is basically an FNQ itinerary for you follow, or you can use it as a choose-your-own-adventure book and take the paths that tickle your fancy.
We had the best 10 days in FNQ – a dreamy mix of luxury, nature, information and imagination. So that’s your holiday sorted – book a ticket to Cairns, hire a car and off you go!
When you arrive in Cairns, make sure you do the little boardwalk walk just out from the airport. That’s when you’ll first realise you’re in the tropics! Plus, there are these gorgeous little red crabs that are worth having a look at. If you’re wondering what to do in Cairns there are enough family-friendly activities to fill a whole month!
Head straight up to Port Douglas and check into the Glengarry Big 4 caravan park. It’s a little bit out of town, but close enough that it’s ‘pop into town’ distance, yet far enough out you feel like you’re staying in the bush. The park has stunning grounds and a forest-like hill behind it, so it’s like staying in a magic rainforest, but with all the joys of a great caravan park … jumping pillow, pool, waterpark etc. It’s great Cairns’ family accommodation.
Explore the Daintree
Book a half-day (afternoon) tour with Daintree Discovery Tours – perfect for the whole family. You get a river croc cruise and a visit to Mossman Gorge, and it’s the perfect length of time for the little ones! The guides are great. and it’s an opportunity to learn and relax as a family with someone else doing the driving and afternoon tea preparation. Take a sunset sail and feel like a millionaire aboard the Indigo Port Douglas. The sunset tour accepts kids over 10 and if that doesn’t work get a babysitter, or juggle it and one of you go while the other stays (assuming you’re a two-parent family).
A Reef Adventure
Seeing the Great Barrier Reef is one of the top things to do in Cairns. Take Quicksilver to the Outer reef but book the introduction guided snorkel tour. Quicksilver is big and there can be lots of people but it’s a great option. There’s something for everyone and the introduction snorkel tour is an information-packed session that will increase your knowledge and love of the ocean immeasurably.
Eat at Salsa in Port Douglas – it’s beyond delicious. Take a swim and enjoy the great buffet breakfast at Oaks Resort (I love resorts that let you play even if you don’t stay!). You can read the paper and watch the massive fish in the waterways near the restaurant. Have a day to potter about, look at the church on the esplanade and play at the park next door. Wander the shops and get a feel for the town. I bet you will love it.
A Village in the Rainforest
Then it’s time to head to Cairns. On your way into Cairns, spend a day on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Make sure you get off at each stop and look at the information presented, and at the top enjoy the lovely town of Kuranda. Kuranda is only a 30 minute drive from the city, and one of the top things to do in Cairns with kids.
Allow plenty of time as Kuranda has lots to offer a visitor – from the markets to art and even army ducks! Stay and play at the Novotel Cairns – with its ‘beach’ pool, everyone’s happy and it’s one of the best Cairns’ resorts for families. There’s sand to play in and a pool to swim in and floating beanbags. There’s also a great restaurant onsite called Moku, with daily specials. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Cairns with kids it’s a great choice.
Always wanted to live on an Island? If you’re wanting to splurge on island life, head to Green Island Resort. Check in at the wharf and your luggage will meet you at the resort. The ferry ride is approximately 45 minutes, and when you arrive you’ll be taken through the activities available and then to your room.
There are so many things to do on Green Island that it’s usually busy with day visitors, but they all go back to the mainland at 4.30pm, and that’s when the island feels like paradise with only the resort guests left. Enjoy sunset drinks, nightwalks and a meal at the restaurant or pack some nibbles and have a picnic, if you’re wanting to save some money.
The snorkelling off the beach is ok, but to get a really great experience, head out on the boat (book at the dive shop or resort), and you will be blown away. We found Nemo, green sea turtles (and black ones too), reef shark and so many amazing fish. Also pop in a few lazy days for swimming and playing, reading and relaxing, and you’ll have a FNQ holiday to remember for years to come.
If you’ve got more time to fill in FNQ or are looking for more ideas for a Cairns’ family holiday then check out our guides on family friendly activities in the Daintree, a historical adventure on the Atherton Tablelands and meeting dinosaurs in the rainforest.
Looking for more information on Cairns and the surrounds? Head to the I Love Cairns website who are dedicated and passionate about sharing everything on the region.