Cairns, Australia: A City of Extreme Adventure

When I was studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, my friends and I decided to take a spring break trip that included a lot of partying and a lot of extreme sports. We booked a tour with Colourful Trips called One Fish Two Fish (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) which included things like bungee jumping, white water rafting, scuba diving, pub crawls, booze cruises, and more. Much of this trip took place in Cairns which, I learned, is the perfect Australian destination for those doing some thrill seeking.

Where to Stay

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Gilligan’s Backpackers Hotel & Resort is the best hostel I stayed in all of Australia, possibly even the world (and I have stayed in many, many hostels). It is a 5 star backpacker accommodation, and it isn’t hard to see why. Aside from being centrally located and clean with a kitchen, there is a beach-style backyard: in-ground pool, lounge chairs in the sand, and volley ball nets.


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The crowd at the Woolshed

The Woolshed in Cairns is the most fun you will have in the entire city, especially if you are looking to dance on the bar and really let lose. Events are on every night and well as live music, for example, Mexican Mondays with a chili eating contest as well as a Mr. and Mrs. Backpacker competition and Sexy Sundays with cash prizes for girls in the sexiest lingerie. Conveniently, they also serve dinner from 6PM on.

There is also a fun pub crawl bus company called Ultimate Party that runs every Tuesday and Saturday night and can take you to an array of different bars, such as Mad Cow Tavern and Rhino Bar. They give you a free BBQ dinners, free entry into the venues, and a souvenir group photo. One highlight of the night was playing games on stage such as having to do sexual positions or girls getting on their knees and maneuvering bubble gum down a guy’s pants. Bring your student ID if you have one, because a lot of the places they take you offer discounts.

Things to Do: Extreme Adventures

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Bungy jump at AJ Hackett Tower which is 50 meters high and offers 16 different jump styles, such as a swan dive and the Minjin Swing through the jungle (where you lay on your stomach and have the option to go tandem). Another plus? There is a bar on site, so you can get buzzed before the jump if you want to calm your nerves or after if you want to celebrate your bravery. Prices vary depending on what you want to do, but a bungy jump that includes a certificate and t-shirt costs $139.

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The view from the plane...

Skydive Cairns is another way to get your adrenaline pumping, with jumps from 9000-14,000 feet that allow views of the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. The free fall is the scariest part, as you literally feel what it is like to fall from a plane (and you can’t breath). Once the shoot opens and your legs kick back, you can relax from your perch in the sky and take in the scenery. Prices vary depending on exactly what you want to do but for a basic skydive expect to pay about $250-$340.

White Water Rafting at the Tully River in Cairns is also an exciting way to spend your time (and burn calories). I know first-hand how scary this experience can be, as I was one of only two people out of our group of 80-something people to fall out of the raft on the rapids! Not going to lie, though, falling out ended up being my favorite part (scary but fun!). A full day of rafting will cost you $195 and will include lunch, transfers, and a guide who will teach you all of the rafting positions as well as what to do when you fall out (which I now know by heart!)

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We found Nemo!

Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef is an absolute must if you are in this area, as it is the world’s largest reef system as well as a World Heritage Site. While scuba diving can be unnerving (it is really unsettling not being able to breath out of your mouth for a long period of time, especially when you are far under water; it’s also scary when water gets in your eyes and/or nose), it is definitely an adventure to literally swim with the fish and get to see the coral up close. If you end up not being able to dive, ask the instructors if you can borrow some snorkeling gear so at least you can still get to experience the reef first hand.

Cliff Diving in Crystal Cascades will allow you to not only experience the Australian rainforest  and local birds, but also swing and cliff dive into the waters in a peaceful setting.


  1. Hi! So I realize how random this is but I am a junior studying abroad in Australia for a semester. I was looking into One Fish Two Fish for a while now to do for spring break. It looks amazing and I had saved up money for a fun trip but apparently none of my friends that I have met in Australia have. No one I have met here can afford it. I am considering if I should just go by myself on the trip. However I am worried about not having a group I already know. Do you remember if anyone in your group went by their self or if you think that would be a just as fun way to experience the trip. I only want to do it because it sounds amazing but if it is way better to do with a group you already know then I would just go with what my friends had planned. I realize how weird this is cause you have no idea who I am but I was just hoping to have some insight from someone who has already been. Thanks for the help!

    1. @Kelly- You’ll have no problem on your own! Our entire group became really close. Everyone was super friendly. You should also mention to your friends that while it’s a lot up front it’s really worth it as there is a TON included. It’s a trip you will not regret, I promise. It was my favorite part about Australia 🙂

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