When we were researching must-do activities near Cairns, taking the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway over the world’s oldest tropical rainforest kept showing up in the search – and for good reason. This is a uniquely wonderful experience that takes you up above the forest and then into it before stopping at a stunning waterfall and ending in the cute little village of Kuranda.
Picking Your Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Journey
While many people opt to take an iconic train for half of the journey, we decided to take the Skyrail both ways since we were tight on time. You can choose from the classic option, Diamond View (with a see-through floor), or the Canopy Glider open-air option. With a husband who is slightly afraid of heights, I chose not to torture him too much and we went with the classic option. Since this area rains often, I liked having the cover just in case.
However, I think the open-air option would be lovely on a nice day! The specialty options also have their own line, so it may help you save some wait time on a busier day.
As of November 2022, the pricing for one adult is as follows ($AUS):
- Skyrail One-Way: $59
- Skyrail & Kuranda Scenic Railway: $119 ($3 extra for bus pickup)
- Skyrail Return: $88.50 (add bus transfer both ways for $24 more)
- Upgrade to Diamond View for $25 extra each way
- Upgrade to the Canopy Glider for $110 extra each way
It takes about an hour to go one-way on the Skyrail without making stops and 1.5 hours on the train. They recommend planning two to three hours in Kuranda and we definitely agree. There is a lot to do there! This map offers a good visual of what to expect on your Skyrail trip.
Stops on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
The ride up to the first stop is the longest and offers a stunning view of the mountains and Cairns coastline. Between the stops, you can also look down into the forest in search of wildlife and keep an eye around you for birds and butterflies. Before getting to the final stop in Kuranda Village, you can try to spot crocs on the river below.
1. Red Peak Forest Walk
This area includes a free ranger guided tour along the easy-to-stroll boardwalk. There is also an overlook area with views across the forest. We actually saw a really big, pretty spider over on the boardwalk to the restrooms though! So, don’t miss a chance to look around everywhere you can.
2. Barron Falls
A short walk along a boardwalk leads to the stunning falls. Getting to get a sneak peek while on the cableway above is awe-inspiring, but being up-close to it is magnificent. It’s a huge waterfall and the rocky gorge below is also beautiful.
3. Kuranda Village
Kuranda was first settled in 1885 and this quirky little village offers a unique variety of stores, dining options, and activities. It is also home to the Koala Gardens, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, and Birdworld Kuranda.
I’d plan at least an hour here to wander around, but a few hours here is ideal, especially if visiting any of the additional activities. We sampled mango wine, looked at unique souvenirs and artwork, bought a used book at one of the market stalls, and got yummy smoothies. There are also multiple walking trails in this area that you may want to explore.
Oh yea … and a random small plane that appears to have crashed at this site, but it is just a plane once used as a movie prop after being retired years earlier. Still a cool find! (Go left when exiting the far side of the market near the Bird World to see it).
Wildlife & Nature to Look For
This area has A TON of wildlife and unique flora to look out for. During our visit, we saw kangaroos hopping in the field behind the terminal, birds and bright blue Ulysses Butterflies flying around as we floated above the forest, spiders and other bugs on the nature trails, and the very unique brush turkey wandering through Kuranda.
There is also a large range of trees and other plants, including climbing palms, basket ferns, and some flowering plants. You even have a chance to see the elusive Southern Cassowary (which we had the luck of seeing in the Daintree), pythons, and maybe even a tree kangaroo!
Other Tips for Making the Most of Your Visit to Skyrail Cairns
- There is an app you can download to get more information as you tour the area, including an audio guide.
- The small cafe has drinks and pre-made sandwiches and snacks. However, if you want a delicious meal, we highly recommend Two Blocks Cafe about 15 minutes away. A walk along the Halloway Beach sidewalk nearby is also a great addition to your day!
- If staying in Cairns, we recommend finding lodging near the esplanade for easy access to dining options as well as the beautiful walking area. We stayed at The Double Tree because we had American Express Hilton Honors credit card points, but we would stay a little closer next time we are in town. (Browse accommodation options in Cairns here!)
- There is plenty of parking at the Skyrail terminal and having a car to go further along the coast is a great option!
Special thanks to Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for hosting us on this adventure. As always, all thoughts are our own.