By Experience Oz

Top things to do on a rainy day in Cairns

By Chloe · August 2023 · 8 mins min read
Make the most of the tropical drizzle with these all-weather activities.

Queensland is known for its beautiful sunshine, but on the odd occasion when the weather turns sour, you might be tasked with the frustrating job of finding something to do. You don’t have to barricade yourself indoors to stay dry, there’s so many options and things to do in Cairns - even in the rain!

Whether you’re looking for something to do with kids, with your partner, friends or simply by yourself, we’ve got you covered. Experience Oz has put together a collection of dry, wet, relaxing and thrilling things to do to combat rainy day weather! Grab your brolly, a poncho or just grab all your friends and check out our favourite rainy day activities in the greater Cairns region below.

1. Explore Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome

Location: 35/41 Wharf St, Cairns City

Keeping the wildlife theme going,Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Domeis an accessible option for those not wanting to venture too far from the city. One of the best zoos in the country, this enclosed exhibit is housed under a 20-metre high glass dome at the top of the Reef Hotel Casino.

Providing visitors with an insight into the lives of tropical north Queensland’s most iconic animals including koalas, sugar gliders, red-legged pademelons, scrub pythons, estuarine crocodiles and freshwater turtles.

If simply roaming around the exhibits isn’t doing it for you, you can sign up for a ZOOM experience around the dome. With zip lines hooked up over the enclosures, you’ll be able to see the animals from a new and exciting vantage point.

You can also get hands-on and interact with various animals and learn about them and their habits with the numerous shows including the Bird Feed Tour, Reptile Rap Show, Dome Feed Out Tour and Furry Friends Show.

Another great way to stay dry when Cairns is getting wet, Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome is open on a daily basis from 9 am to 6 pm and until 5:30 pm on public holidays.

2. Climb aboard SkyRail Rainforest Cableway

Location: Captain Cook Hwy & Cairns Western Arterial Road, Smithfield

If you’re eager to explore Kuranda Koala Gardens and the rest of the beautiful village of Kuranda then taking thSkyRail Rainforest Cablewayup is great on a normal day, and even better when it rains.

As the name suggests, the rainforest loves rain and you’ll be able to see it come alive with all of the best sounds, smells and sights. The SkyRail still operates in the wet weather as each gondola is fully enclosed so you can stay dry as you rise through the mist and the clouds.

If you want to get off the gondola at the Red Peak mountain station to walk around and explore the rainforest but are a little hesitant because of the downpour, you can borrow an umbrella from the mid-station for your convenience.

From the station, you can explore the 175-metre boardwalk through the rainforest to see the luscious flora and fauna and enjoy some spectacular views of the surrounding rainforest.

This is a great way to incorporate sightseeing into your itinerary even when the weather is bad. The option is there to catch the SkyRail back down or jump aboard the Scenic Rail for a different view of this beautiful rainforest.

3. Enjoy the thrill of White Water Rafting

Location: Various locations

Another experience for those who don’t mind getting wet, white water rafting is an adventure that is improved tenfold when it has or is raining. When there is rain, the rapids are at their best and are rushing with full force downstream making for a thrilling white water rafting adventure.

There are two operators that conduct tours in the greater Cairns region; Foaming Fury, and Raging Thunder. With two strong rivers in the region perfect for white water rafting; Barron and Tully eager rafters are definitely spoilt for choice.

The tours vary in duration and difficulty so it’s important to choice the right one for you, even though there is no experience required, with the rain you don’t want go in over your head safety wise. With Foaming Fury and Raging Thunder, all equipment is provided and all rafters are taught the basic and necessary skills to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable ride.

Rapids range in grades from 3 to 4 and are suitable for rafters aged 12 years and up (for Foaming Fury) and 13 years (for Raging Thunder).

4. Visit Underwater Worlds

Location: 5 Florence Street, Cairns

Explore the underwater world, inside at the amazing Cairns Aquarium This is an incredible, state-of-the-art attraction that focuses on showcasing the incredible sea creatures native to Tropical North Queensland!

Take an entire day to wander, sit and admire the different habitats and the aquatic wonders that live deep within them. There are shows and presentations throughout the day, which are educational and awe-inspiring in equal measure, suitable for kids (and adults) of all ages. Kids love the interactive centres and talks, whilst adults can observe and relax with a coffee bought onsite.

The Cairns Aquarium is open daily, rain, hail or shine!

5. Go on a Quad Biking Adventure

Location: Various locations

On the back of a quad bike, you’ll traverse a range of trails with the guidance of an experienced guide. If you haven’t driven a bike before, don’t stress, because you’ll be taught all of the necessary things to safely drive your bike.

Perfect for visitors to Cairns who don’t mind getting a little (or a lot) wet for the sake of experiencing one of the best rainy day activities in the region.

6. Visit Kuranda Koala Gardens

Location: 2-4 Rob Veivers Dr, Kuranda

If cuddling a koala is at the top of your must-do list, then a visit toKuranda Koala Gardens should definitely be on your agenda, despite what the weather is doing. One of the most popular animal attractions in the region, Kuranda Koala Gardens is located in Kuranda, the village in the rainforest, which is reached with a scenic ride up the SkyRail Rainforest Cableway or on the Scenic Rail.

While at the park you can interact with and hold one of these adorable marsupials and learn about all of the park’s animals. This is a great rainy-day attraction for all ages to enjoy and once you’ve stepped inside, you’ll soon understand why.

Home to a variety of animals, you’ll also come across crocodiles, wallabies, snakes and more on your visit to Kuranda Koala Gardens.

Entry to the park is at a price and to escape the long rainy-day queues you can purchase your tickets online and walk right in.

If you’re looking to extend your visit or add something special, you can opt for the Friends in the Rainforest Experience which combines entry to the Koala Gardens and Birdworld, or the Kuranda Wildlife Experience offering entry to both of those parks plus theAustralian Butterfly Sanctuary.

7. Admire Barron Falls

Location: Centenary Park, Coondoo St, Kuranda

Another addition to numbers four and six, Barron Falls is easily reached via the SkyRail Rainforest Cableway mid-station and is an incredible attraction. The sheer volume and force of water that runs over the edge of these falls is something to marvel, but once the region has been, or is being, treated to some fresh rain, the falls are at their best.

The waterfall is a tiered cascading fall that feeds into the Barron River, which is used for white water rafting as mentioned above, from the Atherton Tablelands. The steep waterfall can be viewed from the dry comfort of the Skyrail cable car or by foot with a short walk from the Barron Falls mid-station.

Be sure to pack your camera (and maybe a poncho) for this trip, as the sheer size of the falls is something to remember (and shield yourself from if you prefer to stay dry).

8. Venture out to an Outer Reef Pontoon

Location: Various locations

Even though the weather might not be too flash in and around Cairns, the outer Great Barrier Reef might be experiencing its usual blue skies and clear waters. A number of local operators have moored activity platforms on the outer reef and operate daily tours out to them even in the rain. Cruising out of the shelter of the Cairns harbour might be a little more rough than usual, but once you’ve passed the pocket of rain you’ll be in the clear.

If you make it out to the pontoon and the rain cloud has followed you, there’s no need to worry as the day is far from ruined. You’ll have planned on getting wet either way and once you’re in the water and exploring the reef, you won’t know any better.

While on the outer reef you can embark on a number ofexciting adventure tours including guided snorkelling tours, introductory or certified dives to the deeper parts of the reef, and glass bottom boat rides. A great adventure for all ages to enjoy, the reef is a beautiful place to visit no matter the weather.

There are numerous operators that conduct cruises out, including Great Adventures, Quicksilver Cruises, Reef Magic and Sunlover Reef Cruises. So those rainy days in Cairns don’t have to be a drag, you can still get out and explore the best of the Cairns region, including the world-famous outer Great Barrier Reef.

9. Feasting your way around Cairns

Location: Various

What could possibly be a better way to spend a rainy day than eating your way around the city or the surrounding tablelands.

On a rainy Saturday, head to Rusty’s Markets with empty stomachs to take the Foodlovers tours. It’s an incredible, vibrant spot and the rain will never be able to dampen the smells and hustle and bustle of the markets. Take the official tour to support local businesses, unhover hidden gems and enjoy complimentary treats.

If the rain is in for the day, why not head out towards the Tablelands for a whole day of eating! This region is known for its incredible produce and artisan wares. Go from plantation to park to cafe, sampling coffees, cheeses, the freshest tropical fruits and so much more.

There are a lot of regional foodie tours to choose from, including some that offer complimentary hotel and key location pickup and drop off.

There are a lot of regional foodie tours to choose from, including some that offer complimentary hotel and key location pickup and drop off.

Location: 40 Abbott St, Cairns City

Opened in 1995, the Cairns Regional Gallery is the perfect place to visit during your visit to Cairns, especially when it begins to rains. An independent not-for-profit company, the gallery houses a number of educational, inspiring and entertaining exhibits rotated regularly, so multiple visits are a definite must.

A great place for the whole family to visit, the gallery can act as a place to teach the young ones about history, art and culture, while also taking up an hour or two of your rainy day. Some of the exhibits featured in the gallery include Animalia Australis, Glass, Re-Imagining Papua New Guinea, and Woven Identity to name a few.

The gallery is open seven days a week, so if your plans have been ruined on a weekday or weekend as a result of the rain, you’ll be able to pay the friendly team at the gallery a visit. Entry to the gallery is at a cost, with members, children and companions entering for free.

11. Explore the sparkling crystal caves

Location: 69 Main Street, Atherton

Located just an hour from the city centre on the Atherton Tablelands are the Crystal Caves. Here you can journey through millions of years of crystals, fossils and prehistoric souvenirs! The entire family can make their way through 300 square metres of tunnels, caves and caverns, whilst marvelling at the stories they can tell.

A perfect activity for a rainy day, this is perfect for kids and is a really immersive, engaging experience. You can actually touch the crystals that have existed on this earth for millions of years.

The caves are easily accessible and you can take self guided tours for low entry fee, family tickets are available. Open 7 days a week from 9 until 5 - you’ve got something else to do in the rain whenever it strikes.

The bad weather might be back, but you won’t be bored in Cairns! If the wet is here to stay, or you’re just planning for the school holidays, you can purchaseCairns City Pass" tickets from Experience Oz. These are the best-selling sightseeing pass, giving you all the fundamentals you need, and all spots are wet-weather friendly, giving you access to Cairns Aquarium, Cairns Museum & Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome.

Want to go further afield? Check out our tours and things to do inPort DouglasorTownsville.

If you’re looking for even more things to see and do in and around just the local Cairns area in good as well as bad weather, check out our full range of tours, activities and attractions.
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