Adventure guide to 48 hours in Cairns

This week’s blog comes from traveler, explorer and blogger, Scotty Pass. He’s giving us the full lowdown on what to do in Cairns (especially if you’re tight on time)…

Planning a tropical getaway during the upcoming winter months but stuck on where to explore? Why not give North Queensland a visit the next time you’re thinking of traveling tropical? If you’re after an action packed weekend or just up for a bit of rest and relaxation Cairns has got you covered no matter what the occasion. On my recent journey to Tropical North Queensland I had the intention of participating in as much as possible, in what was possibly the shortest amount of time and most strict schedule imaginable. The plan – adventure, photograph and see as much of Cairns in less than 48 hours!


I set out to photograph a few locations whilst in Cairns ranging from reef, to rainforest and everything in between. For those interested in visiting Cairns, you’ll be spoilt for choice in accommodation, food and wine and a seemingly endless variety of adventure activities. In recent times, the esplanade and surrounding restaurants, cafes and bars have been developed and revived and are now world class, providing tourists and locals with a vast array of food and dining selections. If you’re a fan of seafood, Cairns has some of the best fresh produce going around. Let’s just say you’re in for a treat!

Day 1: Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island
It’s a good idea to book ahead for any tours you might be expecting to do whilst visiting Cairns as places fill up quickly during the peak season for outer reef expeditions and scuba diving trips. Cairns is a tourist hot spot so it always pays do your research and plan in advance. Personally, I booked a day trip to Fitzroy Island for a full day journey which is about $74.

When you arrive into Fitzroy you’ll notice a dramatic change in water colour and scenery. Large green looming mountains greet you on arrival directly in front of the perfectly manicured Fitzroy Island Resort, which nestles in behind the main entrance jetty. If you’ve booked a full day tour, you’ll need to check in at the reception at the resort and collect your return transfer wristbands for the boat transfer back. So what’s next? The island is yours and its time to explore!
Fitzroy Island
The island has a few highlights to enjoy and explore. I’ve travelled twice to Fitzroy Island and my first stop is always Nudey Beach (Disclaimer: Not a nudist beach) – Fitzroy Island is family friendly! Nudey Beach is an iconic stretch of white coral beach located on the Eastern point of the island only a 10 minute, easy walk from the jetty. The water is unbelievable. Some of the most beautiful and clear waters I’ve explored have been at this very beach.

The afternoon was spent relaxing by the resort on one of the many beaches and soaking up the last few hours of daylight. Late afternoon was spent travelling back to the marina followed by a swim in the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon – a popular place for locals to spend the warmer parts of the day relaxing with a BBQ.

Day 2: Palm Cove & Scenic Helicopter Flight

Scenic Helicopter flight
Venture North and explore Palm Cove – a half an hour drive North of Cairns City. Put simply – Palm Cove is breathtaking. Clumps of coconut palms stretch as far as the eye can see, lining the beachfront and silhouetting the coastline just before sunrise. Boutique, luxury apartments and resorts huddle close behind the main strip providing tourists with an unbelievable accommodation experience. The main esplanade is home to a huge variety of cafes, boutique shops and restaurants and has a similar feel to Noosa, Sunshine Coast.
Hammock life in Palm Cove
Tip: Bring a hammock to tie up to a couple of coconut palms and watch the sunrise or sunset. Palm Cove is honestly incredible. I would highly recommend a visit or stay in this part of North Queensland.
palm cove hammock
The second half of day two was spent exploring the more adventurous side! What better way to satisfy those adrenaline cravings than with a scenic helicopter flight? It’s a once in a lifetime experience to view the reef from a totally new and unique perspective. Flying over Arlington Reef and Vlasoff Cay you’ll see so many shades of blue and green pouring their way through a staggering landscape of coral and marine life. Your visual senses become inundated by the many hues of cobalt and cyan visible from an aerial perspective. The entire flight is something you’ll never forget. If you ever have the opportunity to do a scenic flight, don’t hesitate – It’s worth every cent!
scenic helicopter flight

Cairns is a truly unique part of the world offering endless adventure, excitement and food and dining experiences set right on the edge of The Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. Basically Australia is a must visit! Check out more from scotty pass on instagram and his blog