Cairns is a great place for a family holiday … with almost all local tours, activities and attractions able to accommodate children. Diving, naturally, is one of the more restrictive, but there are heaps of other things kids can do on the Great Barrier Reef.


great barrier reef kids activities

Although children are restricted from diving while under the age of 12 years, there are opportunities for them to experience the reef while snorkelling, from a glass bottomed boat or at the underwater aquarium on Green Island.


Green Island also offers Marineland Melanesia with crocodiles, tropical fish behind glass, stingrays and sharks all on show. There are crocodile feeding shows twice a day and educational reef walks at low tide where children can examine safe reef animals up close.


Day trips to the outer reef pontoons are another way of experiencing the Great Barrier Reef. For families with very small children, toddlers for example, the idea of floating in the ocean with only thin cables as fences may not be very relaxing. However if you have school-aged or older children, this is a great all-day activity.


>> For more information see our Great Barrier Reef section


cairns kids activities

There are a number of activities just for kids in the Cairns city area. Cairns Central Shopping Centre is home to a large cinema complex, and Cairns Central Games Station for older kids.


There is another gaming centre in Pier Shopping and the Cairns Wildlife Dome at the Reef Hotel Casino is a great opportunity to see the local flora and fauna – right in the centre of the city.


The Esplanade is home to the famous swimming lagoon, climbing frames, a skate bowl, beach volleyball courts and Muddy’s Water Playground as well as wide open spaces for a football game or two.


>> See our Cairns Esplanade section for more information


palm cove kids activities

With a great local beach with numerous shady palm trees, a fenced playground and the jetty for fishing off, Palm Cove is a favourite spot for a family day out.


On the way to Palm Cove, drop into the Cairns Tropical Zoo at Clifton Beach with its fun cane toad races for the kids and up-close-and-personal activities like hugging a koala.


>> See our Animals, Zoos & Wildlife section for more information


mission beach kids activities

Sun, sand and sea ensures that families can find plenty to do in Mission Beach although there are no dedicated children’s activities.


Dunk Island has a great children’s club should you decide to holiday there overnight. Day trips can include visits to the interesting artists’ colony and watersports include child-safe options.


kuranda & atherton tableland kids activities

A trip up the Kuranda Range on either the Kuranda Scenic Railway or Skyrail is sure to keep just about every child enthralled.


On reaching the village, Kuranda has a number of animal parks, including a butterfly sanctuary, to entertain the children as well as interesting markets and street theatre for older teens.


On the Kennedy Highway between Kuranda and Mareeba visitors will find the Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve with African savannah animals on show.


Almost all wildlife parks will offer family passes – usually for two adults and two children.


Small children will be delighted by the “black and white” cows of the Atherton Tableland as well as the waterfalls and swimming holes that dot the areas around Malanda and Millaa Millaa. In Atherton itself is Crystal Caves, a combination of shop, museum and fantasy land of rock crystals and geodes.


port douglas & mossman kids activities

A popular holiday town, Port Douglas offers a great beach, Four Mile Beach, reef trips and lots of cafés and casual dining options for families.


The Rainforest Habitat on the main road, near the Captain Cook Highway is a great place for kids with Breakfast with the Birds daily from 8am. There are also educational tours explaining the different types of habitats in the area and their plants and animals. Family passes are available. South of Port Douglas is Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures where visitors can feed a croc.


>> Check out our Cairns crocodiles photo gallery


In Mossman Gorge, northwest of Port Douglas, there are tours with the local Aboriginal people who explain the benefits of bush foods and medicine.


daintree, cape york & cooktown kids activities

This area is probably best tackled with older children who enjoy hiking and other active pursuits. Accommodation can be rough and ready, but there are great beaches and camping spots dotted around the peninsula.


Cooktown has a number of interesting historical sites and a good museum. If your family enjoys fishing – either from the shore or on a boat – Cape York is a great place for it and camping in the national parks is another great family activity.

Cairns kids activities Directory

Australia Butterfly Sanctuary
Rob Vievers Dr
P: 61 7 4093 7575

Birch Caroll Coyle
Stockland Shopping Centre, Mulgrave Rd
P: 61 7 4057 0000

Birch Caroll Coyle
108 Grafton St
P: 61 7 4031 1077

Birch Caroll Coyle Cinemas
Cairns Central Shopping Centre
P: 61 7 4052 1166

Birdworld Kuranda
Kuranda Heritage Markets, Rob Vievers Dr
P: 61 7 4093 9188

Cairns Central Games Station
Shop E2, Cairns Central Shopping Centre
P: 61 7 0428 581 434

Cairns Goldpin Lanes
93 Pease St
P: 61 7 4053 3497

Cairns Kart Hire Track
Cnr Captain Cook Hwy & Walker Rd
P: 61 7 4055 0355

Cairns Paintball
Fallon Rd
P: 1800 067 755

Cairns Tropical Zoo
Captain Cook Highway
Palm Cove
P: 61 7 4055 3669

Cairns Wildlife Dome
The Reef Hotel Casino, 35-41 Wharf St
P: 61 7 4031 7250

Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve
Kennedy Highway, 9kms west of Kuranda
P: 61 7 4093 7777

Daintree Discovery Centre
440 Tulip Oak Rd
Cow Bay

Gecko's Indoor Play Centre
Smithfield Centre CRN Captain Cook Highway
P: (07) 4038 1181

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Hartley's Creek, Captain Cook Highway (35mins north of Cairns
Hartley's Creek
P: 61 7 4055 3576

Johnstone River Crocodile Farm
Flying Fish Rd
P: 61 7 4061 1121

Laser Tag Cairns
Redlynch Intake Rd
P: 61 7 4039 1376

Leisure Island at The Pier
Pier Market Place
P: 61 7 0417 611 187

Paronella Park
Japoonvale Rd (Old Bruce Highway)
Mena Creek
P: 61 7 4065 3225

Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary
Port Douglas Rd
Port Douglas
P: 61 7 4099 3235