Cairns is super popular for travellers, from backpackers to luxury seekers. Why? Because it’s the perfect place to base yourself as you explore both the ancient rainforests and the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef. Sounds pretty good right?

But if you need to narrow down your options for a long weekend vacay, let me share with you what I reckon are THE best day trips you can make from this small city.

1. Palm Cove

It’s actually just a suburb in Cairns, but it’s about halfa out of the city centre. If you’re in the mood for a day of pampering then, mates, this is the place for you. Massages and fine dining by the palm tree-lined beach anybody?

Nu Nu Restaurant literally blew my non-Foodie mind. Everything is locally sourced and fresh as heck. The flavours are perfectly paired and the presentation is that really pretty type that makes you feel bad for ruining it. Then you can take your full belly next door and fall asleep as the team at Alamanda Spa soothe you with a full body massage to the sound of rolling waves from the ocean outside.

2. Mossman Gorge

The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk was about 1000% above and beyond what I was expecting, and to be honest that was mostly due to my legend of a guide, Mooks. Mossman Gorge is part of the 180 million-year-old Daintree Rainforest, so it’s gorgous in its own right. But when you’re shown that rainforest through the eyes of a knowledgable and experienced local Indigenous person, it’s a whole new thing altogether.

The rainforest literally comes alive as you learn about the plants and animals that make the place so special, and the many uses they all have. You’ll also learn about the local Indigenous culture, including traditional ceremonies. And if you’re lucky enough to get Mooks you’ll learn a lot of fascinating details about his life as a tracker, healer and his many brushes with the talented and famous.

3. Fitzroy Island

If you want a day of snorkelling and cocktails, you want a day on Fitzroy Island. The ferry from Cairns will drop you off within very short walking distance of beaches, the bar and the volunteer operated Turtle Rehabilitation Centre where you can join a short tour.

Foxy’s Bar & Grill is famous in these parts, and I’m so on board that bandwagon. Tropical cocktails, open ocean vistas and a top location literally nestled in the rainforest. But maybe take the 30-minute walk over to the even more famous Nudey Beach (not actually a nude beach) for actual Insta-modelesque shots before you hit the drinks too hard.

You can absolutely stay overnight if you want to chill a little longer, either camping or at the lush Fitzroy Island Hotel.

4. Vlascoff Cay

Did you know you can fly on a helicopter over to a small sand cay in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef for a Champagne brekkie or lunch? Because you totally can, like the royalty you are. GBR Helicopters fly right out of the centre of Cairns and have a bunch of different tours you can take.

I will never stop being sad that the weather got in the way of me actually being able to land on Vlascoff Cay, but WOW the views of the Great Barrier Reef as you fly over them are incredible. The vibrancy of the blue and the clearness of the water are unbelievable. So much so that I was genuinely trying to spot fish n the coral, which I probably would have if I was so damn short-sighted.

Image: Instagram / [@all_people_laugh]