Ace Rental Cars Blog

A Week in Cairns

From strolls along the Esplanade to adventuring through rainforests, there’s an array of experiences for every traveller in Cairns. Planning a week-long getaway to the ‘Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef’? Vibrant culture and natural wonders await, and your Ace rental vehicle is the perfect companion on your journey.

  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Atherton Tablelands
  • Daintree Rainforest
  • Cairns Highlands

Day 1 & 2: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

  • Cairns Esplanade
  • Cairns Night Markets
  • Great Barrier Reef

Once you arrive in Cairns, pick up your rental car from our Cairns Airport or Cairns CBD branch to get your adventure started. Enjoy a gentle stroll along the Cairns Esplanade, taking in the sights and surrounds of your new holiday destination. The Cairns Cenotaph, which commemorates the fallen soldiers of World War One, is a place to stop, learn and reflect about Cairns’ War history. Further up the Esplanade, you’ll reach the Esplanade Lagoon, one of the city’s notable attractions. A man-made pool, just across from the beach, the Lagoon is the perfect place to take a dip, bask in the sun and soak up the atmosphere of seaside living. After a day exploring the town, grab a bite from locally loved Cairns Burger Cafe, and finish by browsing the Cairns Night Markets. Dive straight into adventure on your second day in Cairns, with a day trip exploring the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef is iconic for its biodiverse marine life and coral reef system—the largest of its kind in the world—and Cairns is known as the gateway to this magnificent wonder. The most popular ways to see the Reef in all its glory are by scuba diving or snorkelling, but there are plenty of other experiences available to marvel at the underwater beauty, like skydiving and glass-bottom boat tours.

Day 3 & 4: Atherton Tablelands

  • Waterfall Circuit
  • Kuranda Village

After spending the day in, above or under the water, drive inland to the Atherton Tablelands to discover the lush rainforests and cascading waterfalls of Tropical North Queensland. Visit Millaa Millaa Falls, about an hour and a half from Cairns in your rental car. Embrace the serene ambience of this natural paradise, and feel the spray of the cascades as you take a moment to relax. Spend some quiet time here, perhaps journaling or photographing, and stop by Barista in the Mist to enjoy a cuppa in town. Other waterfalls in the area include the Zillie Falls and Ellinjaa Falls, forming part of the 17km Waterfall Circuit visitors frequent. Continue your journey through the Tablelands with a day out in Kuranda. Dubbed the ‘village in the rainforest’ Kuranda is a peaceful escape with plenty to see and do. From cruising along the Barron River on the Kuranda Riverboat to indulging in a meal at the Big Forest Cafe, there’s something to suit all travellers. Browse the works of local Aboriginal artists at Terra Nova Gallery for a dose of culture, or explore the natural environment on foot with a walk or hike.

Day 5 & 6: Daintree Rainforest and Port Douglas

  • Daintree Rainforest
  • Guided Dreamtime Walk
  • Wildlife River Cruise
  • Port Douglas

On the opposite side of Cairns, the wonders of the Daintree Rainforest await. The oldest in the world and the largest rainforest in the country, there are over 1,200 square kilometres to explore and discover, making it the ideal destination for nature lovers. Set out on a guided Dreamtime Walk from the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre to hear stories of the Kuku Yalanji culture and traditions, enjoy a bush tea and damper and immerse yourself in the lush rainforest landscapes. If you prefer solitude, there are a range of self-guided walks on offer, from 10-minute strolls to 45-minute tracks. Looking for wildlife? The Daintree is known for its abundance of flora and fauna, including the Southern cassowary and Estuarine crocodile. Take to the waters on a Wildlife River Cruise, where you may spot native wildlife while gliding down the tranquil Daintree River. After venturing the Daintree, stop by the stylish, coastal town of Port Douglas on your way back toward Cairns. Unwind with a meal at Choo Choos at the Marina for waterfront views and stroll along Macrossan Street to browse souvenir shops and art galleries.

Day 7: Highlands Exploration

  • Crystal Cascades
  • Barron Falls
  • Yungaburra

As your adventurous week in Cairns wraps up, spend the last day exploring the lesser-known attractions of the Cairns Highlands for moments of solitude and serenity. Start with breakfast in town, indulging in a sweet spread at Waffle On, or cosy comfort food at Mi Piace Espresso Bar. Next, just 20 minutes inland from Cairns, visit the Crystal Cascades freshwater swimming hole for a refreshing start to your day. This secluded spot is the perfect place to relax under the rainforest canopies and reflect on your journey through Tropical North Queensland. If you’ve got the energy for one last hike, journey the Barron Falls Lookout Track to admire scenic views of the Highlands and vibrant foliage. Consider a drive to the countryside village of Yungaburra for something different to conclude your holiday. Walk the Afghanistan Avenue of Honour to observe the memorial, and if you’re visiting in spring, the Illawarra flame trees provide a colourful backdrop when in bloom. While in Yungaburra, stop by the centuries-old Curtain Fig Tree to admire the strength and perseverance of this natural wonder, and end your evening with dinner at Our Place Restaurant.

With memories made admiring natural beauty and exploring rural towns, each moment spent in and around Cairns has been filled with unique experiences that’ll serve as lifelong memories upon your return home.

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