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While we love uninterrupted family time and all of the joys that come with it, finding activities for the kids that don’t involve endless hours of iPad or screen time can be tricky. Luckily for families visiting Cairns, there’s lots to do. Be it a stroll along the Esplanade or a trip out to the reef, our city by the sea is chock-full of ways to keep the kids busy without totally sacrificing your chance to relax.

We’ve asked a few staff members and parents of Pullman Cairns International for their insider tips on how to holiday in Cairns with kids of all ages in tow: 

Josephine Falls and Millaa Millaa Falls

Daniel Rosendale – Front Office All Rounder
“Waterfall day at Josephine Falls and Millaa Millaa Falls! And don’t forget a stop at Lake Barrine and the tea house there. There, you can see a platypus if you’re lucky. There’s also Crystal Cascades closer by.”

Couple sit on rock, partially in water at Josephine Falls

A trip to the Tablelands for a few waterfall dips and nature walks is a day that the whole family will truly enjoy. Josephine Falls boasts a natural granite waterslide, while Millaa Millaa provides the perfect backdrop for a family holiday photo. If the kids plan on swimming, just be aware of the day’s conditions, as currents can be strong after a big rain.

A stop at the historic Lake Barrine Teahouseis also a must when you’re traipsing around the Tablelands. Though the informative lake cruises have been put on hold, the restaurant is still open and slinging out delicious Devonshire Tea and filling lunches. 

Crepes for breakfast at Lake Barrine Teahouse for school holidays activities
Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventures

Nearer to Cairns, Crystal Cascades is a local family favourite for many reasons. This series of freshwater swimming holes is surrounded by lush rainforest trees and plenty of native critters. Plus, its walking tracks and BBQ areas make for the perfect afternoon adventure.

Muddy’s Playground

Reiko Kusuda – Food & Beverage Supervisor
“Muddy’s playground on the Esplanade. Green Island is also a good day trip for kids.”

Muddy’s Playground
 is the perfect way for active kiddos to burn some energy on a long summer day. Located right on the Esplanade, this sprawling free park offers a splash zone, ropes courses, toddler play area, classic playground equipment, massive interactive chimes, and much much more. Refuel at Muddy’s Café. Or make use of the many picnic tables and BBQs scattered around with lunch from home.

A trip to Green Island requires a bit more planning. However, kids are sure to love the options to snorkel, cruise around in a glass bottom boat and play in the island’s soft white sand. 

Nature Play Space, Red Arrow and Sugarworld Park

Nerida Meakin – Director of Sales & Marketing
“My family has a lot of favourites. The Nature Play Space at Centenary Lakes, walking the Red Arrow (with cold drink at NOA as an incentive!)… and Sugarworld is always a big hit!”

Just a few minutes from Cairns CBD, the Edge Hill neighborhood offers lots of hidden gems for everyone to enjoy. The Nature Play Space at Centenary Lakes is a playground like no other. Lurid orange slides and blue swing sets are replaced by ropes courses built into hills, dinosaur bones buried amongst the sand boxes, and a sensory garden that invites everyone to touch and smell native flora. 

Kids climb play ropes at Nature Play Centre
gardens at Nature Play Centre

For an active afternoon, the 1.5km Red Arrow walking track takes families up (and we mean up—there’s about 250 steps, so make sure you’ve all got runners on) through Mt Whitfield Conservation Park, through the forest and past several spectacular points that look out over Cairns. After you’ve completed the loop, treat the kids to a well earned milkshake and yourself to a cold something or other at nearby NOA

To cool down on one of Cairns’ infamously hot summer days, a trip to play in Sugarworld Adventure Park’s many waterslides and splash pools is a surefire winner for kids of all ages.

Goomboora Park Activities

Leissa Prouchandy – Guest Experience Manager 
“Goomboora Park has an adventure playground and a creek that feeds from Crystal Cascades. It’s easy for the kids to swim as the current isn’t too strong, and there’s a big pathway that goes all the way to Crystal Cascades that you can cycle and walk along.”

Woman walks on Goomboora Park track

Goomboora Park’s gentle creek feeds from the same water as Crystal Cascades’, but offers much gentler currents for beginner swimmers. The adventure playground will entertain the young ones, while parents and older kids will love a stroll or a bike ride along the beautiful walking track. 

Pullman Cairns International

For families that are shorter on time but still looking for ways to cater to the kids, guests of Pullman Cairns International have plenty of school holiday activities to choose from right at their (hotel) doorstep. Budding cooks and mixologists can join the talented chefs and bartenders at Coco’s Kitchen & Bar for cooking and mocktail making classes.

Drinks from Coco's Kitchen and Bar classes

Little ones that like to be pampered can indulge in mini “Princess Manicures” with the friendly Vie Spa therapists.

There will even be evening movies on show in one of Pullman Cairns International’s spacious event rooms, so families can enjoy something on the big screen without an expensive trip to the theater. 

View the Pullman’s January kids activities schedule here.

So, what are you waiting for? Cairns is calling. Pack up that sunblock and those rashies, and get the family ready for one of your best summer holidays yet.


BLOG BY Alina Polishuk