There’s a meme making the rounds that describes every Aussie family holidays as either, ‘Up the coast’, ‘Down the coast’ or ‘Bali‘. And it’s funny because it’s kind of true.

But this kind of thinking means that way too many of us are missing an experience that’s not only right here on our doorstep, but whose stunning landscapes and surrounds make it the stuff of our paradise holiday fantasies.

Cairns, on the east coast of Far North Queensland, is the gateway to the incredible Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest and so much more.

Flying into Cairns over The Great Barrier Reef looks like you’re about to land in Hawaii, and within minutes of your arrival you certainly are aware that you’ve landed somewhere with magic in the air.

Oh and don’t be fooled by the natural wonders, because you’ll also find brilliant cafés, bustling markets and plenty of beaches on offer too.

If Cairns isn’t on your family holiday bucket list, you might want to think about changing that, because when it comes to memory making fun, Cairns has child-friendly adventure in spades.

Your kids really can ‘Find Nemo’ on a Cairns adventure.

What time of the year is best to visit Cairns?

Cairns doesn’t get its lush, tropical reputation for no reason. There are two definite seasons when it comes to Cairns weather, summer and winter.

Summer (November to April) brings the wet season. The summer heat (25 – 30 degrees Celsius) coincides with some pretty impressive electrical thunder storms.

Meanwhile, in winter (May to October), you can expect plenty of sunshine and pleasant warm temperatures (around 17 – 25 degrees Celsius) with cool refreshing breezes and low rainfall.

However, locals say the best time of year falls in between the two, running from April to October. The bugs aren’t around yet, the water remains free from stingers and the weather is clear and calm and missing the humidity of summer.

Regardless, the tropical Cairns climate means it is always a good time to visit Cairns.

You should also know that stinger season stretches from around the first of November to May. In those months you might be sharing the ocean with some very tiny and very nasty creatures, so it’s recommended that you suit up in a full body ‘stinger suit’ if you’re planning to swim in the sea. But don’t let that scare you off, the stinger nets will be in the water as soon as there is any possible danger and local tour guides know all the ways to keep you safe.

Scroll on to see 13 things to do in Cairns with kids in the gallery below

But first, what’s new for families in Cairns in 2022?

Launched at the end of April, the Wunyami Cultural Walking Tour offers a guided journey around Wunyami, Green Island, an ancient coral cay with an equally fascinating ancient cultural history. Led by Indigenous guides, guests will hear how the island is connected to an ancient journey of two ancestorial story-time beings, learn about the cultural ceremonies of the GuruGulu Gungganji and Gimuy Yidinji tribes and discover the connectivity of this iconic island to the ancient seascape.

Visit the Torres Strait in just one day on a flight from Cairns or stay longer and discover Ailan (island) life, history and culture. Strait Experience curates small group tours of Thursday Island and visits other Torres Strait islands that lie between the northern-most tip of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Exploring Cape York is now easier with Far North Escapes, specialising in premium private and small 4×4 group tours. Offering half day, full day and multiday customisable itineraries covering a range of locations, guests can choose from experiences such as the bucket-list trip to The Tip, crocodile tours, horse-riding tours and even helicopter tours.

Snorkellers and divers are exploring the Great Barrier Reef from the new Reef Magic pontoon, which uses the wind and sun for power and has a dedicated laboratory for marine scientists. Reef Magic worked closely with local Traditional Owner groups to incorporate their culture and knowledge of the reef into their site stewardship.

The $1.2 million Gateway to Cape York has opened at Lakeland with a traveller information centre, rest stop and interactive sculpture park showcasing Cape York communities. Welcoming visitors to Cape York, the tourism infrastructure showcases the history and ecology of the area and 16 artworks created by communities from across Cape York Peninsula.

100% Indigenous owned and operated, Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours, has launched its first scheduled tours for independent travellers. The tours, taking place on Mandingalbay Yidinji Country, a short 15-minute boat ride from Cairns CBD, include experiences such as an eco-cultural walk, camping on country and a monthly Full Moon Dinner.

Tourism Port Douglas Daintree have released their new Discover Paradise brochure, covering all the great things to see and do in the region. Showcasing local restaurants, shops, tours, and events, the brochure also contains suggested holiday itineraries to make the most of your trip up north.

13 things to do with kids in Cairns

This article first appeared on Now to Love and has been updated and reshaped here with permission.