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Cairns is the gateway to the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef and other islands of the Coral Sea. This city of Queensland is all about spectacular beaches, creeks and lagoons,rain forest mountains and islands and cruising to these places is the most favorite activity here. But Cairns holiday remains incomplete and half-hearted if tourists visiting here do not try the wide range of water sports and adventure. From snorkeling, diving to canoeing; the list of Cairns water sports is fairly enriching.

Top 10 Water Sports In Cairns

Check out the list of amazing Cairns water sports and see which all you can give it a shot too. 

  • Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Fishing
  • White Water Rafting
  • Waterfall Canyoning
  • Sailing
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Parasailing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Bumper Tube

1. Snorkeling In The Great Barrier Reef

Best Time For Snorkeling In Vietnam

The Great Barrier Reef is globally known for colourful corals and one of the amazing ways to see the stunning corals, colourful fish, stingrays, and other marine animals is snorkeling. Take a cruise from Cairns to this largest living coral reef and go for guided snorkeling trips. It is safe, perfectly okay for non-swimmers as it takes place in shallow water. The water near Great Barrier Reef is warm and families and kids love spotting the vibrant underwater habitat, making snorkeling one of the most popular water sports in Cairns.

Best places for snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef: Green Island, Ribbon Reefs, Orpheus Island and Agincourt Reef.
Best time for snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef: June to October

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2. Diving In The Great Barrier Reef

Scuba Diving In Vietnam cover

With sprawling stretches of corals and marine life for 2300 km, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the favourite spots for divers. One can enjoy diving in the warm blue water from various points and spot varieties of fishes including Whitetip Reef shark, Tiger shark, and Silvertip sharks. Many agencies in Cairns train novice divers and offer PADI certificates.

Best places for diving in the Great Barrier Reef: Challenge Bay, Cod Hole, Steve’s Bommie, Ribbon Reef, Acropolis and Around the Bend.
Best time for diving in the Great Barrier Reef: August to December

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3. Fishing


Cairns is famous for fishing. Be it reef fishing, estuary fishing, and river fishing; Cairns never disappoints anyone. One can enjoy guided sports fishing trips in islands, headlands, sand and mud plains, estuaries or harbor entrances, and the seas. Popular catches seen in Cairns are Barramundi, Mackerel, Trevally, Fingermark, Black Jew and Queenfish. Fishing is one of the most desired water sports in Cairns if you are looking for some leisure time.

Best places for fishing: Palm Cove, Yorkeys Knob, Green Island and Lizard Island
Best time for fishing: September to December

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4. White Water Rafting

White-Water Rafting

If you believe you have a daring heart and strong endurance, do not miss white water rafting- one of the best water sports in Cairns. There are two rivers in Cairns, Tully, and Barron which are ideal for white water rafting. Get ready for a terrific adrenaline rush when you raft down the Grade 3-4 rapids of the Tully River, which flows through World Heritage Rainforest.

Moreover, Barron River is relatively slow-flowing with moderate Grade 2-3 rapids and best for first-time rafters. Though rafting is a guided activity in Cairns, minimal swimming skills is an additional bonus. Enjoy this thrilling bumpy ride and make your Cairns vacation truly memorable.
Best places for white water rafting: Tully and Barron River
Best time for white water rafting: November to February

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5. Waterfall Canyoning

Raneh Waterfalls in Khajuraho

The serenity and surreal beauty of lush green tropical rainforests, cascades and pools is a sharp contrast to the terrific adrenaline rush which one gets while canyoning in this scenic setting. Hold your breath as you jump and sweep across the water while sliding, zip-lining, rock climbing, abseiling and cliff jumping. It is one of the craziest water sports in Cairns and if you love the thrill and adventure, you simply cannot miss out on this.

Best places for waterfall canoeing: Crystal cascades
Best time for waterfall canoeing: December to February

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6. Sailing


Looking for a relaxing activity? Book a yacht and sail along. The sailing trips are invigorating and perfect for lazy afternoons. One can also enjoy a beautiful sunset while sailing in these luxury yachts. Get your DSLRs ready to click the stunning images of islands, bays, harbors, and Great Barrier Reefs.

Best places for sailing: Trinity Bay and Great Barrier Reef
Best time for sailing: Throughout the Year

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7. Sea Kayaking

A couple takes a sea kayaking tour from Koh Samui

One of the most popular water sports in Cairns to explore the beaches, seas, islands, and bays is sea kayaking. Rowing in small kayaks on a lazy afternoon is fun and exciting but nothing beats the charm and thrill of night kayaking in the sea. Snapper Island and Hinchinbrook Island are the two places that offer nocturnal sea kayaking and camping facilities. Enjoy paddling all along and if you are lucky you may spot dolphins, turtles, fishes, and vibrant corals.

Best places for kayaking: Fitzroy Island, Snapper Island and Hinchinbrook Island
Best time for kayaking: October to February

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8. Parasailing

Parasailing At Alibaug Beach

Soar high and fly like a bird, while parasailing and tick off this from the list of must-try water activities in Cairns. The stunning beauty of rainforests, mountains, beaches, islands, and harbors will make your jaw drop as the parasailing vessel will lift you in colourful ballooning parachute as high as 300 feet above the Coral Sea. This one to one and a half-hour of thrill and adventure will not only add charm but will make your holiday super memorable.

Best places for parasailing: Trinity Bay and Marlin Marina
Best time for parasailing: April and May

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9. Jet Skiing

Jet Skiing

Enjoy the fun and thrill of riding a bike in the sea through jet skiing. It is one of the craziest and most popular Cairns water sports that do not require swimming skills. Sweep and maneuver the bike in the sea at great speed, while riding solo or in tandem. The splashes of water on the face and body will surely invigorate you and the speedy rush and swift turn taken while driving the four-stroke Yamaha bike will make the adrenaline rush in the body like fast cars.

Best places for jet skiing: Palm Cove and Trinity Bay Jet Ski Circuit
Best time for jet skiing: Throughout the year.

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10. Bumper Tube

Cairns makes your holiday

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Trying water sports in Cairns makes your holiday fun-loaded and thrilling but if you do not try bumper tube rides; it is ought to be half-hearted. Riding in Great Big Mable”, a 4-person bumper tube across the Trinity Bay is exhilarating and one of the best choices who prefer a calm and relaxing ride in the sea.

Best places for bumper tube: Trinity Inlet
Best time for bumper tube: Round the year.

Further Read: 14 Water Sports In Australia To Give You An Adrenaline Rush

Enjoy this fun-loaded and exciting Cairns water sports and make your holiday a memorable one. Some activities require swimming skills while some are perfect for non-swimmers. Take necessary professional guidance and go through the rules and regulations minutely before indulging in any of these water sports in Cairns. Plan your trip to Queensland with TravelTriangle and enjoy the best vacation!

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Please Note: Any information published by TravelTriangle in any form of content is not intended to be a substitute for any kind of medical advice, and one must not take any action before consulting a professional medical expert of their own choice.

Frequently Asked Questions On Cairns Water Sports

Which water sports can be tried in December in Cairns?

Surfing, diving, and white-water rafting can be tried in December in Cairns.

Where to practice white water rafting in Cairns?

White water rafting can be practiced in Barron & Tully Rivers.

Which water sports can be done at the Great Barrier Reef?

Snorkeling, scuba diving, and deep-sea diving are popular water sports at Great Barrier Reef.

What are the things to do in Cairns?

One can enjoy Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, snorkeling and diving in the Great Barrier Reef, swimming in Cairns Lagoon, sail in any of the cruises, chopper ride over the ocean, hiking in rainforests and up to Josephine Falls, canoeing and fishing. One can also try their luck at Reef Casino.

What are the popular places to see in Cairns?

The popular places to see and explore in Cairns are:
1. Kuranda Scenic Railway
2. Great Barrier Reef
3. Palm Cove
4. Reef Casino
5. Rainforest Nature Park
6. Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
7. Cairns Botanics Garden
8. Josephine Falls
9. Cairns Aquarium


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