Queensland’s stunning Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system and one of the seven natural wonders in the world. It lies among some other stunning tourist destinations – including Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach and Port Douglas. All offer scenic locations and sun-soaked activities, as well as some of the best hotels in Australia.
Cairns is known as the gateway to Tropical North Queensland and is famous for its northern beaches including Palm Cove, as well as the laid back Mission Beach. Attractions include the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, where you can see beautiful wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, snakes and crocodiles as you’re perched high in a cable car viewing the area.
The Esplanade is a must-visit area where thousands of locals and tourists go to meet and dine at the cafes and restaurants. There, you’ll also find the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon. It’s a huge pool formed in the shape of Queensland that features water fountains and shallow areas. Other activities in the area include rafting, kayaking, bungy jumping, fishing, whale watching and horse riding.
Considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland, Townsville is an interesting fusion of old and new with a rich history and modern attractions. You can visit the ancient gold rush mining towns of Charters Towers and Ravenswood out west. The Miner’s Cottage in Charters Towers is a restored workers’ cottage from the late 1800s. It features goldfields memorabilia and displays on the city’s past and present events.
One of the largest markets in North Queensland is the popular Cotters Markets. Every Sunday, you’ll find North Queensland-produced arts, crafts, and produce. Street entertainment is also provided.
Other attractions include the two botanical gardens – the Queen’s Gardens and the new Anderson Park Botanical Gardens. There is also the palm tree-lined Strand beachfront promenade with rollerblade paths, beaches, picnic spots and restaurants.
The picturesque Airlie Beach is frequently visited by backpackers. The beach is lined with palm trees and the sea is often the home of marine stingers from November to May. You can still swim though – in the stinger-free swimming lagoon. Nearby is Boathaven Beach, a new beach that opened in 2011 and also has a stinger-free swimming area.
The area also includes fantastic activities including skydiving, crocodile safaris, sailing, scenic flights over Whitehaven Beach, day trips to the Great Barrier Reef, diving and snorkelling. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs. You’ll also find great Airlie Beach accommodation to suit every budget.
Port Douglas has a truly relaxing and laid-back atmosphere. It is home to the world-famous Four Mile Beach, which is an ideal location to see the sun rise. You can also visit the nearby rainforest areas of Daintree and Cape Tribulation on a guided day tour or a 4WD safari.
This area is also great for shopping, with fashion boutiques and jewellers aplenty. The Port Douglas Sunday Market sells crafts, modern and indigenous art and tropical food. There is also live music. Other activities in the area include dining, snorkelling, kayaking and whale watching.