30 incredible things to do in Tropical North Queensland

We’re not short of a natural wonder or two here in Queensland. In fact, we’re proud to admit that a cluster of the country’s most famed assets call the Sunshine State home, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Wet Tropics, where the Daintree Rainforest resides.

It’s up top in Tropical North Queensland that you’ll come across a concentration of these UNESCO World Heritage sites, where thriving cities like Cairns and Port Douglas mingle with pristine coastline and lush jungle. It’s a place that begs to be explored, so summon your sense of adventure, and follow us through the remarkable beauty of TNQ. We’ve come armed with a list of the top 30 activities to enjoy while you’re here.

Wilderness Expeditions | things to do Tropical North Queensland

Wilderness Expeditions | Photo by @adventuremumma

1. Trace the footsteps of early explorers, trekking the rugged wilderness of Australia’s most northern tip, Cape York, by donkey with Wilderness Expeditions.

2. Tighten your hiking boots and clamber up the top of Mount Bartle Frere, the highest mountain in the state.

3. Immerse yourself in Indigenous culture, taking a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk at the Mossman Gorge Centre.

4. Greet the sunrise from Mount Cook summit, where your three-kilometre hike uphill is rewarded with sweeping views of the Great Barrier Reef.

5. Explore life under the sea with a visit to the popular Beaver Reef Dive Site off picturesque Mission Beach.

Cardwell Spa Pools

Cardwell Spa Pools | Photo by @eve_christie

6. Cool off with a dip in Tully, the home of the Golden Gumboot and geological wonder, the eerily blue Cardwell Spa Pools.

7. Get up close and personal with the endearing local bat population with a trip to Bat Hospital Visitor Centre in Atherton.

8. Four-wheel-drive your way across the famed Cape York Peninsula, the 1200km stretch of road that connects Cairns with the northernmost tip of Australia.

9. Treat yourself to a luxury getaway in idyllic Palm Cove, where crystal waters and white sands lined with palm trees await you.

10. Beach-hop your way up the coastline, following our guide to the most beautiful beaches along the way.

Friday Island | Things to do Tropical North Queensland

Friday Island, Torres Strait

11. Tour the 274 untouched islands in the Torres Strait, where Melanesian and Indigenous cultures intermingle.

12. Sleep under the stars at Cape Tribulation. Before jumping in your swag, take in the famed sunset from the beach.

13. Get better acquainted with the legendary potato cod with a dive at Cod Hole, considered one of the best dive sites in the world.

14. Delve underground, traversing the oldest and best-preserved lava tube systems in the world at Undara Experience.

15. Cycle your way along the Great Tropical Drive, gazing at district icons along the way (Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and Hinchinbrook Island included).

Chillagoe-Mungana Caves

Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park

16. Gaze at the spectacular limestone caves in Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park. The historically significant mining site is also home to small galleries of Aboriginal rock art.

17. Swim with the local population of the dwarf minke whales off Cairns thanks to Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. Queensland is the only place you can do so.

18. Take to the skies, floating by Hot Air Balloon Cairns over the lush green of the Atherton Tablelands.

19. Design buffs will delight at the sight of Paronella Park, the ethereal ruined castle and surrounding gardens built by Spaniard Jose Paronella at Mena Creek Falls for his beloved.

20. Keep an eye out for the endangered southern cassowary at Djiru National Park, protecting some of the last remaining lowland rainforest in the Wet Tropics.

Haggerstone Island

Haggerstone Island

21. Treat yourself to the ultimate indulgence; rent private Haggerstone Island for the night, the exclusive waterborne retreat nestled off Cairns.

22. Pack a picnic and spend the day gazing at Big Millstream Falls, is reputedly the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia.

23. Splash about in the serene blue waters of Lake Eacham, a crater lake formed by volcanic explosions.

24. Traverse the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest living rainforest in the world at 180 million years. Walk amongst its ancient treetops at the Daintree Discovery Centre, perusing the canopy from a 23m high tower.

25. Frolic among the natural wonders of Barron Gorge National Park, inhabited by a collection of ravines, rugged mountains and rainforests and famed Barron Falls.

26. Get a history lesson at Quinkan Reserves Ancient Rock Art in Laura, where the prehistoric rock paintings have been listed by UNESCO as one of the top ten rock art sites in the world.

27. Head for the outback, winding along the Savannah Way in the heart of the Savannah Gulf. Take a break from driving at desert oasis Cobbold Gorge.

28. Jump on the ferry to Fitzroy Island National Park, where you can spend the day exploring its impressive collection of rainforest, mangroves, and coral beaches.

29. Wander through the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, dubbed the country’s largest butterfly aviary and exhibit, gazing at its 1,500 tropical butterflies.

30. Throw in a line in Cooktown whilst on a self-guided fishing tour. Not a fishing fan? Fear not, there’s still plenty to do here.