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Family Friendly Guide To Cairns

Updated Tue 04 Oct 2022

Mother and daughter on a boat to an island

Cairns in Far North Queensland is a popular destination for a family holiday… and it’s no wonder why! With historic rainforests, crystal clear oceans to the Great Barrier Reef and a tropical climate all year round, family-friendly activities in Cairns aren’t hard to come by.

With so many amazing family things to do, many of them free activities, Cairns is the perfect destination to take a fun-filled family break suited to every budget. Whether you are travelling with a baby, young kids or older children, there are a variety of activities to do in Cairns with kids to keep you busy.

When should I visit Cairns with my family?

Really it depends what you’re after (off-peak travel, school holiday windows, cheap flights, cooler weather for the bub), as all year round is the perfect time to escape to Cairns. Indeed, the water is always warm enough for swimming and you never really need more than a light jumper! However, there are two distinct seasons, wet and dry, that may determine when you want to visit.

The wet season brings rainfall from November to March and the weather is hot and humid. Prices drop during these months with cheaper accommodation and domestic flights. Visibility on the Great Barrier Reef is excellent, rainforests are at their best and rivers and waterfalls are running. However, over Christmas, this little bustling tropical town is very busy, so book ahead.

From April to November, the weather is warm and dry with temperatures ranging between 18 to 26 degrees, the idyllic winter weather makes it a great time for a family escape. Indeed, winter and spring are excellent times to come for a north QLD holiday.

Family of four at sunset

Getting around Cairns with kids 

The city centre has plenty of attractions and activities to entertain the whole family, with public transport and scenic pathways to deliver you where you need to go. However, if you want to travel outside the city to explore the Daintree, Atherton Tablelands, Cape Tribulation and other regional gems (which we recommend), it is a great idea to hire a car since there isn’t a lot of public transport to the Northern Beaches and Tablelands.

Phone with maps open in the car

Best reef trips for families in Cairns

With an array of underwater magic to be learned and discovered, what better way to see Cairns than on a reef trip? Check out our favourite reef trips for families to uncover the delightful world of the Great Barrier Reef with your family. With plenty of boats that take children of all ages out and provide snorkel gear and flotation devices, it’s never been easier to get amongst the wild world of the reef with the little ones.

Two children in snorkel gear on a boat

Best things to do in Cairns with the family

With a bustling and tropical city hub home to plenty of markets, free activities and relaxed dining restaurants, Cairns is one of the best destinations to visit with your family. Whether you're embarking on an outdoor hike, relaxing by the lagoon, heading to regional gems, exploring the Daintree Rainforest, discovering Kuranda or chasing waterfalls, there is so much to do on the Cairns mainland. Adventure is made easy with the kids in a tropical paradise, so buckle up and check out our favourite things to do with the family in Cairns, including the best family-friendly spot to eat, how to get around and when the best time to travel with your family is!

Jospehine Falls aerial with turquoise waters, rocks and trees

Is Cairns expensive with kids? 

Just because Cairns is adorned with ample natural beauty and tropical marvels, doesn't mean you have to break the bank just to bring your family. With an array of exciting free things to do, cheap deals on family group booking for Great Barrier Reef tours, hidden gems making for awesome day road trips, eclectic markets, free events and local history worth discovering, Cairns is an incredibly affordable holiday destination. Check out our favourite things to do in Cairns bound to impress the parents, whilst keeping the little ones entertained and within the budget! 

Family at a restaurant table eating different dishes

Still searching for the perfect Cairns family holiday?

Check out our comprehensive family guide to Cairns, or live chat with a local travel expert to design your ideal tropical itinerary! 

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