10 National Parks Near Cairns To Visit

With the Great Barrier Reef on one side and the World Heritage Rainforest on the other, there are many stunning national parks near Cairns to visit!

Whether you are dreaming of crystal clear waterfalls, balmy islands, or a bird-watchers paradise, there is a Cairns National Park perfect for you!

Get ready to discover the ultimate National Parks near Cairns to visit…

Daintree National Park

daintree national park fan palms boardwalk

Location

Around an hour and a half north of Cairns

Why Visit?

Daintree National Park is home to the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest continually-surviving rainforest on the entire planet! Step into a world where dinosaurs once walked and discover dense green rainforests with unique flora and fauna, palm-fringed beaches and, most famously, see where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef at Cape Tribulation.

What To Do

  • Spot giant crocodiles on the Daintree River
  • Meander through forests full of fan palms on Daintree boardwalks
  • Explore the many beaches along the beautiful coast between the Daintree River & Cape Tribulation
  • Marvel at views of the rainforest meeting the ocean at Alexandra Lookout
  • See where the rainforest meets the reef at Cape Tribulation

How To Get There

Take a full day or overnight tour from Cairns with Jungle Tours & Trekking. This action packed tour includes a crocodile-spotting cruise, a guided rainforest boardwalk tour, beaches, lookouts and more!

Barron Gorge National Park

national parks near cairns barron falls national park
Photo by @annaritaevans

Location

Around 25 minutes inland from Cairns.

Why Visit?

Barron Gorge National Park looks like a snapshot straight out of Jurassic Park. This mist-shrouded, dense rainforest flanks a series of staggering gorges, mountains and the white water of the Barron River.

The ultimate gem of Barron Gorge National Park is Barron Falls, a whopping 125 metre waterfall that flows over a series of rock faces 259 metres wide.

What To Do

  • Glide over the dense rainforest on a Skyrail
  • Journey on the Kuranda Scenic Railway past the stunning Stoney Creek Falls
  • Walk along the bridge at the lower half of the Barron Gorge and look out for white water rafters

How To Get There

Enjoy a full day tour to Barron Falls National Park and Kuranda with Tropic Wings. Fly over the Rainforest canopy on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and see uninterrupted views of the Barron Falls from the new Edge Lookout.

Return to Cairns via the Kuranda Scenic Railway and journey through the ancient rainforest. Hop off the train at the Barron Falls platform and enjoy views of this mighty waterfall from a different angle.

Wooroonooran National Park

wooroonooran national park babinda boulders
Photo by @chloektodd

Location

Wooroonooran National Park is located around an hour south of Cairns.

Why Visit?

Spanning a whopping 800 square kilometres, Wooroonooran National Park has an abundance of beauty just waiting to be explored. With fairytale waterfalls, ancient boulder-dotted pools and the two highest mountains in Queensland, Wooroonooran National Park is easily one of the most beautiful national parks near Cairns.

One of the best things about this national park is that it is just that little bit off-the-beaten-path and tends to be less busy and touristy than other rainforest national parks.

What To Do

  • Visit the Babinda Boulders- ancient, granite-lined pools with an eerie Indigenous backstory
  • Explore rainforest walkways and discover unique flora and fauna
  • Visit Josephine Falls, a triple-tiered waterfall flowing from Mt Bartle Frere, Queenslands highest mountain.

How To Get There

Explore this stunning national park near Cairns with Wooroonooran Safaris on a full day tour. Join a passionate guide on a luxury, air-conditioned coach for an action-packed tour of this national park. Tour includes Josephine Falls, Babinda Boulders, Eubenangee Wetlands, a crocodile spotting cruise and more!

Tours available in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.

Fitzroy Island National Park

fitzroy island national park near cairns
Photo by @thedailyluxe

Location

Fitzroy Island National Park is one of the closest national parks near Cairns, at just 23.1km off the shore.

Why Visit?

Fitzroy Island is pretty much the dictionary definition of paradise. Its home to the stunning, boulder-lined Nudey Beach, which was ranked the number one beach in Australia!

The main beach is an abundance of coral and the reef can be snorkelled right off the beach.

In between snorkels, head to the islands funky bar Foxys, or hike to the top of the Summit and be rewarded with mesmerising views.

What To Do

  • Snorkel off the beach towards White Rock and search for turtles
  • Enjoy a short walk to Nudey Beach and take a dip in the turquoise water
  • Visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
  • Hike to the top of the Summit and enjoy views out to the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef
  • Relax at Foxys Bar N Grill with a cold one

How To Get There

Fitzroy Island can be accessed by boat tours from Cairns.

Green Island National Park

national parks near cairns green island national park
Photo Source: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Location

Green Island is located 27.3km off the coast of Cairns

Why Visit?

This huge coral cay is surrounded by an abundance of fringing coral that is home to an abundance of marine life. Step into the big blue and explore this underwater wonderland and look for giant clams, clownfish, turtles and more.

This tropical island is also home to beautiful rainforest, white sandy beaches and a resort pool to cool off in.

What To Do

  • Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef off the beach
  • View this underwater wonderland without even getting your hair wet on a glass bottom boat or semi-submersible tour
  • Relax by the resort pool

How To Get There

Explore the Island with Big Cat, which departs from Cairns. We recommend the Kuranda and Green Island two day package!

Eubenangee Swamp National Park

eubenangee swamp national park

Location

One hour south of Cairns.

Why Visit?

Eubenangee Swamp National Park has been identified by BirdLife International as a very important conservation area. This series of unique ecosystems is home to 190 bird species, including the Crimson Finch and Black-necked Stork. The area is home to the last 20 hectares of Australia’s endangered freshwater mangroves.

What To Do

  • Search for birds, crocodiles and other fauna in the parks main wetlands
  • Explore a range of rare trees and flora

How To Get There

Wooroonooran Safaris offer full day tours including a guided visit to Eubenangee Swamp National Park. Your experienced guide will help you search for wildlife and will educate you on the various flora and fauna of the region.

Millstream Falls National Park

cairns national park millstream falls national park
Photo by @_sarahlatham

Location

Just west of Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands. Millstream Falls National Park is around 2 hours south-west of Cairns.

Why Visit?

If you want to chase waterfalls, Millstream Falls National Park is the place for you! This national park is home to Big Millstream Falls, the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia.

If that alone didn’t merit a visit, the national park is also home to Little Millstream Falls, three single waterfalls plunging into one large pool.

Millstream Falls National Park is also rich in World War Two History and has a WW2 Heritage Walk.

What To Do

  • Visit Millstream Falls, Australia’s widest single drop waterfall
  • Take a short 700m walk to Little Millstream Falls
  • Explore the World War 2 Heritage Track

How To Get There

Drive from Cairns to Ravenshoe via the Gillies Highway. Turn onto the Kennedy Highway and travel 3.5km South-West until you see the sign for Big Millstream Falls.

Crater Lakes National Park

national parks near cairns crater lakes national park
Photo by @pb.ay

Location

The Crater Lakes National Park is located on the Atherton Tablelands, around 1 hour and 15 minutes South-West of Cairns.

Why Visit?

If the idea of swimming in an old volcano floats your boat, we suggest a visit to the Crater Lakes National Park! This national park consists of two volcanically-formed lakes; Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham. Alongside this, the national park has stunning rainforest walks, giant Kauri Pines and the best Devonshire Tea in Tropical North Queensland!

What To Do

  • Take a refreshing dip in the bright blue Lake Eacham
  • Enjoy a boat tour of Lake Barrine and enjoy a Devonshire Tea at the tea house
  • Walk from Lake Barrine to the giant Kauri Pines, which are estimated to be around 1,000 years old!

How To Get There

Head south from Cairns and travel up the Gillies Highway towards the Atherton Tablelands. You will see the sign for the turn off to Lake Barrine at the top of the range.

Mount Hypipamee National Park

cairns national park mt hypipamee national park
Photo by @pb,.ay

Location

Mount Hypipamee National Park is located around 110km south-west of Cairns and around 25km south of Atherton.

Why Visit

The eerie Mt Hypipamee Crater is a volcanic pipe that was formed by a tremendous volcanic explosion. Look down a staggering 58 metres to this weed-covered pool, which extends a further 80 metres below the rim.

A short, but stunning rainforest walk away is Dinner Falls, a series of three beautiful waterfalls that are perfect for a dip in.

The national park is also home to diverse flora and fauna, including several species of possum and the endemic Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo.

What To Do

  • Take a short stroll to the Mt Hypipamee viewing platform and stare into this eerie crater
  • Wander through the rainforest to Dinner Falls
  • In the evening, look for nature by torchlight and see if you can spot a possum!

How To Get There

Travel from Cairns to Atherton for 80km via the Gillies Highway and travel an additional 24 kilometres south.

Frankland Islands National Park

national parks near cairns frankland islands national park
Photo by @phlipvids

Location

The Frankland Islands are located off the coast of Deeral, which is around 45 minutes south of Cairns.

Why Visit

The Frankland Islands National Park is far less explored than nearby Green Island or Fitzroy Island, but is just as breathtakingly beautiful.

This group of five islands are surrounded by fringing hard and soft corals and are home to stunning marine life including turtles and clownfish. The pristine, white-sand beaches are the perfect place to spend the day relaxing.

What To Do

  • Snorkel off the beach of Normanby Island and find the iconic “Nemo” in the bright blue anemone
  • Enjoy a walk around Normanby Island and pass through a range of stunning ecosystems
  • Camp overnight on Russell Island or High Island

How To Get There

Frankland Island Cruises offer day trips to the beautiful Normanby Island. Wooroonooran Safaris also offers a two day Wooroonooran National Park and Frankland Island Cruise. Call us to book!

Ready to explore national parks near Cairns? Book a Wooroonooran Safaris tour to Wooroonooran National Park today!

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