Cairns Walking Tracks amazing rainforest, Esplanade and Island Walks

Most people visit Cairns in Tropical North Queensland to experience the “rainforest and the reef.”

While the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park are completely unmatched, there is also some amazing nature to enjoy in and around the Cairns CBD as well.

To make it easy for you, we’ve rounded up the best walks in Cairns.


Cairns Esplanade

One of the best walks in Cairns is actually right in the city centre! The Cairns Esplanade is about a 2.5-kilometre walk that shows off the best bits of the city.

It starts near the Cairns Marlin Marina, which is where you can catch a daily departure out to Fitzroy Island, Green Island, or the Outer Great Barrier Reef.

If you follow its curve around, you’ll pass the Pier Bar, which is a favourite gathering spot for locals and tourists alike.

You’ll also pass the Cairns Lagoon, which is a popular spot for swimming, lounging, and even fun community events like water aerobics.

There are plenty of nice green spaces along the entirety of the Esplanade, and you’ll often see local workers taking their lunch break in the shade, backpackers grabbing a nap, or families enjoying the sunshine (we are in Far North Queensland, after all).

You’ll find plenty of places to eat along the Esplanade, which is another reason this is one of the best walks in Cairns. However, the real reason we love to stroll here so much is the views.

It’s great people-watching, and the views of the Trinity Forest Reserve in the distance are unmatched on a sunny day.

Fitzroy Summit

Cairns Walking Tracks

Let’s say you’ve decided to hop on one of the boats at the Marina and find yourself on Fitzroy Island.

Since it only takes about 45 minutes to get to the sandy beaches of this inner-reef paradise, we feel like we can include it in our best walks in Cairns round-up as it’s an easy day trip.

While there are plenty of fun things to do on the island, like snorkelling or visiting the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, a can’t miss activity for all avid walkers is to trek to the top of the island on a 3.6-kilometre return summit hike.

But don’t let the shortness of the walk fool you, at a normal pace, you’ll need at least two hours to complete the loop, but it’s well worth it.

The views of the mainland, nearby Green Island, and the beautiful Coral Sea are unmatched.

If you’re up for a bit of a detour as well, you can check on the lighthouse, which is about halfway up (or down, depending on which way you decide to go).

Cairns Botanic Gardens

 Another one of the Cairns walking tracks and best walks in Cairns is through the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Well, we shouldn’t say “one of” as there are actually many different walks to choose from here.

Four main trails wind through the lush gardens, ranging in length from just over a kilometre to about 5.5. So, no matter your fitness level or how much time you’d like to spend on your walk, there is something for you at the gardens.

Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy the feeling of being immersed in a tropical rainforest without ever actually needing to leave the city.

If would prefer, there are also a number of guided walks in the Cairns Botanical Gardens for visitors to enjoy.

These tours are free of charge. You can enjoy them with a volunteer guide if you feel like you might have questions to ask or would prefer a more personalized time, or you can also use an audio guide instead if you prefer to go at your own pace.

Barron Gorge National Park

Cairns Walking Tours

Exploring Barron Gorge National Park is one of the best walks to do in Cairns during the wet season, as it will really give you a chance to see the waterfalls along the way when they are truly roaring!

The park is about a 20-minute drive away from Central Cairns and is well worth it. There is plenty of walks to do, depending on how much time you have, as well as your fitness level.

One of the most popular options is the Din Din Barron Falls Lookout walk, which only takes about 40 minutes return and is a cool 1.2 kilometres.

It’s an elevated, wheelchair-accessible (with assistance) boardwalk that winds through the tops of the trees.

You’ll get to see Barron Falls, the Barron Falls railway platform (that the famous Kuranda Rail stops at), as well as the beautiful, green rainforest for kilometres and kilometres.

There are even toilets in the car park!

 Walsh’s Pyramid

Walsh’s pyramid is the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world! Because of this (and the amazing views at the top!), we include it in our best walks in Cairns round up, when really, it’s actually a quite difficult hike.

To get there, you’ll drive about 25 minutes south of Cairns to a town called Gordonvale.

On the Bruce Highway, about 800 meters south of the Mulgrave River, there is a small road on the right called Moss Road.

Once you’ve turned, take the road about 100 meters, and you’ll see a narrow gravel track that heads off to the right.

If you’re not sure, just look for the one that’s marked by a red rectangle.

Take this road for about 100 more meters, and you’ll see the parking area where the track begins.

Be sure to allow at least five to six hours for a return trip and bring plenty of water!

We hope you enjoy these best walks in Cairns.

There are also some great walking tracks on Lizard Island that can be done on our day tour to Lizard Island

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