Budget to Balling: Must do Tropical Adventure Experiences
Cairns and its surrounds is a treasure chest of excitement and delight, but the best part is that it fits all budgets.
Whether you’re high rollin’ Duck McScrooge-style or heading off on your first post-university trip (ignoring that HECS debt for just a short time), Cairns and the Tropical North has an adventure something that’s perfect for you.
1. Hiking Behana Gorge
Behana Gorge is one of those magical spots that travellers read about in dog-eared guidebooks or eavesdrop on chatty legends over a few local brews, but no one actually tells you exactly where it is, only that it’s a spectacular spot of cascading waterfalls, crystal clear rock pools and not another soul to be found – a true oasis of a tropical paradise. Lucky for you, we here at Crystalbrook Collection HQ have the treasure map and are happy to share.
The journey begins as you drive half an hour out of Cairns towards the famous Walsh’s Pyramid. Turn off the main highway onto Behana Gorge Road and follow until the sealed walking track starts. From here it’s a solid 45-minute trek up steep hills to reach your destination, but oh wow, does it pay off. Photographs simply don’t do it justice.
If you want to take your Behana Gorge experience up a notch (or 10), you can hit up Behana Days where starting from the top waterfalls, you can abseil, cliff jump and rockslide your way down the gorge.
2. Eat like a Prawn Star
If you ever eat only one more prawn in your life, please let it be from the star of all tropical north seafood vendors, the Prawn Star. Moored at the Cairns Marlin Wharf, this unassuming fishing trawler turned casual seafood restaurant has caught people’s attention for all the right reasons.
Offering affordable classics like a $60 share plater of mixed prawns and cooked bugs or a $30 serve of oysters to more luxe dishes like freshly-cooked mud crab, the menu has been designed with substantial servings in mind. Plus there’s $5 beer and wine offered all day, every day.
Cost: Worth every finger-licking cent.
3. Jungle surfing Cape Tribulation
Hanging upside down on rope suspension whilst hurtling through a jungle canopy your kind of adventure? This jungle canopy we speak of is the Daintree Rainforest in Cape Tribulation, two hours and 30 minutes north of Cairns, and the upside-down rope suspension part is a little bit Indiana Jones, thanks to the crew at Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours, an adventure zipline course.
Starting with a human hamster wheel that uses people-power to winch the jungle surfers up to their starting platform, the Jungle Surfing guides then take small groups on zipline rides across a series of five landing areas, 20 metres up in the rainforest trees.
While the activity is family-friendly, it also allows for some daredevil antics like hanging upside down and attempting triple pike turns. Go on, we dare you…
Cost: Can you really put a price on adventure? Yes. But this isn’t terrifying.
4. Diving with Minke Whales
During the tropical winter months of June to August, Minke whales begin to migrate through the Great Barrier Reef, making Tropical North Queensland the prime spot to witness their spectacular show. Only a few boats are licenced to be a part of this extraordinary experience, including the team from Divers Den with their liveaboard vessel, Ocean Quest.
The real magic happens with the chance to get up close and personal with these gentle giants and have a swim alongside them, truly a life changing experience as you look deep into their soulful eyes.
Cost: Priceless… but not outrageous.
5. Chopper to a private sand cay
Fancy yourself a baller where budget is no worry? Chopper out to Vlasoff Sand Cay on the Great Barrier Reef for a truly unforgettable experience. Vlasoff Cay is the VIP of all the sand cays - you’ll be taken by private helicopter with GBR Helicopters to your very own sandy oasis in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef for a few hours of fully catered picnic and snorkel time, followed by a healthy dose of Champagne for the return journey. It’ll be your “this is livin’ Barry” moment.
Cost: Definitely worth a few gold coins in the cookie jar.