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Where Can You See Crocodiles In Cairns?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Thu 13 Jul 2023

Tropical North Queensland is known for its unique rainforest creatures, including the monstrous and intriguing crocodile! There are both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles in Cairns, though you won't find these ancient reptiles crawling through the city streets. Like all wild animals, they have their own preferred natural habitats, and they are quite tricky to spot in the wilderness. 

If you're wondering where to see crocodiles in Cairns, there are a few places you can go. You can spot crocs in the wild if you go to certain areas, though sightings are never guaranteed. There are some excellent wildlife parks and sanctuaries in and around Cairns where you are guaranteed a close-up look at a crocodile! So here are your best options for seeing crocodiles in Cairns!

Saltwater crocodile

Where Can You See Crocodiles In The Wild?

Crocodiles do roam the wilderness around Tropical North Queensland, but there are certain areas where you're more likely to spot them. Freshwater crocodiles tend to inhabit inland lakes and rivers, but this type of croc is much smaller and less aggressive than its salty relatives. Lake Eacham is known for its resident freshwater croc, but it is rarely seen and doesn't pose too much of a threat. 

Saltwater crocodiles are the big, ferocious predators that get most of the attention in Queensland. These are the largest reptiles on earth, and they are one of the oldest as well! These ancient beasts inhabit lakes, rivers, and open sea areas of Tropical North Queensland, but they prefer the brackish water of river mouths near the coast. Murky water is a hotspot for crocs, and they tend to hang out near the waterline so they can ambush prey. 

Crocodiles tend to be most active during the summer months, but you could see one all year in Northern Queensland. They are also more active at dawn and dusk, like most wild animals. But they are often camouflaged by their environment and they can be quite elusive, so you might not be able to spot one in the wild.


Croc Safety In Queensland

If you do want to try and see crocodiles in the wild near Cairns, please remember to be smart about it. They are wild predators and you should always keep your distance. The best way to see crocodiles in nature is on a guided river cruise, such as on the Daintree River or Cooper Creek. You will cruise through their habitat, but you'll be in the safety of a boat and you'll have a knowledgeable local guide to lead the way. 

So where can you safely swim in Queensland without fear of crocodiles? Freshwater swimming holes and waterfalls inland such as Josephine Falls or Crystal Cascades are great options. But anywhere you see a caution sign warning against crocodiles is somewhere you should be careful. Beaches, rivers, lagoons, and swamps are still croc territory. You also most likely won't see crocs swimming out in the Great Barrier Reef because the crystal-clear water is far from shore and harder for hunting.  

Read the QLD Government website page about crocodile safety for more helpful tips!

josephine falls

Where Can You See Crocodiles In Cairns?

A much safer way to see crocodiles in Cairns is at a wildlife park. Saltwater crocodiles are powerful predators, so trying to find them in the wild with no protection is risky. You also might not even be able to see one due to their camouflage. So if you really want to see a crocodile, you're better off visiting one of these locations in downtown Cairns! Both of these places are right in the city center, so you can feast your eyes on some incredible wildlife without even leaving downtown. 

  • Cairns Aquarium: You can see estuarine crocodiles at the Cairns Aquarium's Mangrove Exhibit, in addition to all the unique marine life on display here. 

  • Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome: Check out the crocodiles and other fascinating animals before you hit the interactive ropes courses at Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome!

Cairns Aquarium

Where Else Can You See Crocodiles Outside Cairns?

If you're willing to venture out of the city, there are some other great places to see crocodiles near Cairns. These wildlife parks and sanctuaries have an abundance of fascinating creatures to see. And with lots of lush land and space for the animals, these parks can really focus on the conservation and protection of all their precious species. The staff are all educated and really care about the well-being of the animals. So even though it's in a controlled setting, you can still admire lots of amazing creatures at these places. 

Kuranda Koala Gardens: Though this Kuranda attraction is most well-known for its koalas, there are other animals here as well. See dingos, cassowaries, Tasmanian devils, and of course, crocodiles!

Rainforestation Nature Park: At this top-rated attraction in Kuranda, you can see some impressive crocodiles here in addition to going on an army duck rainforest tour or joining a Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventure Park: Specializing in croc encounters, Hartley's allows visitors to take part in a big croc feed! At this sustainable nature park, you'll learn all about crocodiles from experienced guides and get plenty of chances to see them in action!

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas: Located an hour north of Cairns in Port Douglas, here you can see a number of animals and also get to see amazing crocodile feeding presentations. 

Hartleys Crocodile Adventures

Ready to plan your trip to Cairns? Check out our Travel Info and Things To Do pages for some ideas and inspiration!

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