Cairns with kids

What to do in Cairns with kids? Cairns is located in northeastern Australia and for many families with kids, Cairns is the starting point to explore the eastern side of Australia. You can do several fun kids activities in the Cairns area, and we ourselves found Cairns to be a really relaxing place to spend time. In this blog, we list the best activities you can do in Cairns with kids.

Best travel time Cairns with kids

Cairns is a lovely tropical place in Australia and the temperature here is above 25 degrees all year round. This gives you lots of days in the year when you can go swimming in Cairns with kids. You would say that the summer months (December through March) would then be the best months to visit Cairns, but that is precisely not the case.

On the contrary, during these months there is quite a bit of rainfall. The best months to visit Cairns are June through November. This is when there is the least rainfall and the temperature is around 25 degrees. We visited Cairns in September and then the weather was lovely and we did not have a single day of rain.

Transportation to and in Cairns

You can travel around Australia in different ways. Australia is a huge country in terms of area and therefore many families with kids travel by plane in some parts to save a lot of time. One of the most enjoyable areas to explore in Australia is the east coast and then renting a car or a motorhome can be quite convenient to visit this east coast.

The center of Cairns is not super big and there you can already explore a lot on foot. If you also want to explore the surroundings of Cairns with the family, then a rental car is convenient.

Cairns with kids

Children’s activities Cairns

#1 Esplanade

We found Cairns a really nice place to visit and that was mainly also because of the nice climate and the Esplanade Lagoon right in the center of the town. Because you can’t swim in the sea in Cairns in many months because of the deadly jellyfish in the water, it’s nice that you can relax by a large pool right in the middle of downtown. This pool is free to enter and is a place where we spent many hours.

The Esplanade Boardwalk is a very cool place to walk with kids. For example, there is a large Ferris wheel, where you can see the city of Cairns from a great height with kids, and you have many nice restaurants along this boulevard. On the beach near this boardwalk there are often large pelicans that you can spot, and there are also several spots with fitness equipment (mostly used by our daughter as play equipment).

It is also fun to visit the Muddies Splash Park with young kids. This is near the Esplanade Lagoon and you have several sprinklers and fountains here, where kids can play with water. Also on the Esplanade Boardwalk you will find Fig Tree Playground. This is a playground with various climbing equipment for kids. In short, the Esplanade Boardwalk is really super family-friendly and you definitely can’t skip that if you’re taking a city break to Cairns with kids.

Cairns with kids

#2 Kuranda

A nice place to visit near Cairns is the town of Kuranda. Kuranda is just over half an hour away from Cairns by car and you can do a variety of activities here with kids. For example, Kuranda is home to the Kuranda Koala Gardens animal park that you can visit.

At this animal park you will find several well-known Australian animals such as the koala, the kangaroo, the crocodile and different types of snakes. It is possible to have your picture taken with a koala here, and make up your own mind whether you think it is appropriate or not. It’s a small animal park, so you’ll have seen it too. Online reviews about this park do vary.

Cairns with kids

Also in Kuranda, you have the Rainforestation Nature Park. At this park you also have different animals like the koala and kangaroo that you can watch. The park is also home to much of Australia’s culture. There is always someone playing the famous Australian didgeridoo and traditional dance shows. Of course, this is pretty touristy.

You can also take several cable cars across the rainforest up the mountain in this park. They have booths here with a glass floor to make the ride up or down even more exciting. It is also possible to take a very scenic route by train in this area.

Finally, in Kuranda you also have a Butterfly Sanctuary located. You have lots of different kinds of colored butterflies here. Here they show the whole process from caterpillar to butterfly. So a learning place also for kids. You can spend an hour walking around here with kids just fine.

Children's activities Cairns

#3 Great Barrier Reef

Cairns is also sometimes seen as the place, where you can go see the beautiful Great Barrier Reef and of course we did that here. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most beautiful underwater sites in the world, so you can’t skip it if you’re in Cairns with kids. A huge number of boat trips are offered from Cairns to this area.

However, there are major differences between the various providers of these boat tours. Some boats only go to the edges of the Reef and some boats really go to the Outer Reef. These tend to be a bit more expensive, but you’ll be on the boat all day and you’ll also go snorkeling in several places.

Of course, a full day can be a bit long with young kids, so be sure to get informed before you book what exactly you’re getting for it all. A somewhat larger boat with toilet facilities, for example, may be desirable for young kids.

If your kids are still too young to go snorkeling, you can also choose to go with a Glass Botom Boat or a Semi Submarine boat. These boats do not require the kids to swim themselves and still allow them to view the underwater world from the boat. If the kids do go snorkeling, check to see if they have a life jacket for kids on the boat. Often when we go snorkeling our daughter puts on such a vest, so it’s a lot less tiring for her in the water.

Cairns with kids

#4 Islands off the coast

You can also sail at Cairns with kids to several islands off the coast here. For example, you can visit Green Island by boat. You can book both half-day and full-day tours here, and it takes about 45 minutes by boat from Cairns to reach this island.

On Green Island you have beautiful white sand beaches and it is also possible to snorkel or go on a Glass Bottom boat here with kids. Just keep in mind that this island is especially crowded during the tourist season, which does make it very touristy. If you don’t mind that as a family, you can have a wonderful day at the beach here. You can also encounter turtles underwater here.

Another island you can visit off the coast of Cairns is Fitzroy Island. You can walk on the island to the top of the island or take different walks on the island. For kids, the walk to Nudey Beach is fine. This island also offers great snorkeling with kids and here too you can encounter turtles, among other things. They also have a turtle sanctuary on this island that you can visit.

Children's activities Cairns

#5 Cairns Aquarium

Right in the center of town near the Esplanade Lagoon, you can also go to Cairns Aquarium. You can see lots of different tropical fish and other sea creatures in the various aquariums here. One of the highlights of Cairns Aquarium is the large tunnel you can walk through and see the entire underwater world above your head.

Other children’s activities Cairns

You can do several other activities with kids in the Cairns area. We list the other children’s activities in Cairns below.

#6 Northern Beach Trail: you have several stores in downtown Cairns that rent bikes and you can do great cycling along the beaches from Cairns with kids. In fact, you also have bikes for kids here that you can rent from one of the stores. One of these bike trails is the Northern Beach Trail.

#7 White Water rafting: this is a spectacular activity to do in Cairns with kids. In fact, you can go rafting on the Barron River, and this river is a 20-minute drive away from Cairns. Here you can book half-day tours. You can also go rafting on The Tully River, but you’ll be on the road for a whole day. The minimum age at the Barron River is 12 for kids and 13 at The Tully River. So unfortunately you can’t do this with young kids here.

#8 Waterfalls: you can also go to several waterfalls in the Cairns area with kids. For example, you have the Crystal Cascades which are about a 20-minute drive from Cairns. You can also visit this waterfall just fine with kids. You walk to the waterfall in about 20 minutes. It is also possible to swim near the waterfall. The waterfall is not super spectacular, but it is a fun family outing.

Another waterfall you can visit is Stoney Creek Falls. This waterfall is a 15-minute drive away from Cairns. It is also possible to enter the water here.

#9 Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure: this animal park is located north of Cairns about a 40-minute drive from downtown. Here, in addition to the various crocodiles, they have other animals such as the koala, the kangaroo and various snakes. You can go watch different shows here, where they also give a lot of information about the different animals. You can also take a boat out on the water here to spot crocodiles in the wild.

#10 Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat: This is another wildlife park located near the Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure. You can also spot roughly the same animals here as at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure. Several animals roam freely in this small animal park and therefore kids can pet a kangaroo here, for example, if they want to.

Children's activities Cairns

Family-friendly restaurant Cairns

You have several nice family-friendly restaurants in Cairns. We list some of these family-friendly restaurants in Cairns below.

MOKU Bar & Grill: this is a family-friendly restaurant in downtown Cairns, where (if you eat here) you can use the hotel’s pool, which houses the restaurant. They serve delicious dishes here and have many vegetarian and vegan options. They also have gluten-free dishes here. There is a special children’s menu for kids.

Trinity Beach Sports Club: this restaurant does lie a little outside the center about 15 minutes away by car, but it does have a playground and a gameroom in the restaurant. On Saturday nights, kids eat here for free from 6-9 p.m.

Red Beret Hotel: this family-friendly restaurant is also located slightly outside the city center, and you can also drive to it in about 15 minutes. This restaurant also has an extensive area for kids with an area with Play Stations and also a whole play area for young children.

In addition, of course, it is still fun to buy your own food at the supermarket and have a picnic on one of the fields near Esplanade. This can be just as enjoyable with kids!

Cairns with the family

Family-friendly hotel Cairns

You can stay in Cairns with kids just fine! The city has several family-friendly accommodations where you can stay. We have listed the top rated accommodations by families with kids in different price ranges. Press the blue link for more information.

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