9 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

9 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Great Barrier Reef trip builder

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Route & dates

9 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Adelaide
Fly:  5​h 15​min
1
Cairns
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h
2
Mission Beach
— 1 night
Drive:  5​h 45​min
3
Cooktown
— 1 day
+2
Drive + Fly + Drive:  7​h 15​min
4
Airlie Beach
— 2 nights
+2
bus + taxi + Fly:  8​h 15​min
End: Adelaide

3
nights
Cairns

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
For shopping fun, head to Sunday Market Port Douglas or Doongal Aboriginal Art Gallery Cairns. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Opal Reef and Michaelmas Cay. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Cairns: St Mary’s by The Sea chapel (in Port Douglas) and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures (in Palm Cove). Next up on the itinerary: meet some fierce fish with a shark diving experience, trek along Esplanade Boardwalk, and brush up on your military savvy at The Australian Armour & Artillery Museum.

To find traveler tips, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our Cairns trip itinerary tool .

Adelaide to Cairns is an approximately 5.5-hour flight. You can also drive; or take a bus. Expect a bit warmer evenings in Cairns when traveling from Adelaide in January, with lows around 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 9th (Thu) so you can drive to Mission Beach.

Things to do in Cairns

Wildlife Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Port Douglas, Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 9:
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Shark Diving
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Michaelmas Cay ©
Michaelmas Cay

1
night
Mission Beach

Gracing the coast along the Coral Sea, Mission Beach is a collection of villages that merged into one city.
Kick off your visit on the 10th (Fri): get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, then browse the exhibits of Helen Wiltshire Gallery, and then kick back and relax at Mission Beach.

For photos, reviews, other places to visit, and tourist information, refer to the Mission Beach travel itinerary planner.

Drive from Cairns to Mission Beach in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 10th (Fri) early enough to travel to Cooktown.

Things to do in Mission Beach

Outdoors Wildlife Tours
Find places to stay Jan 9 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Fishing Charters & Tours
Mission Beach ©
Mission Beach
Helen Wiltshire Gallery ©
Helen Wiltshire Gallery

1
day
Cooktown

Cooktown ©
Cooktown is a small town and locality in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. Kick off your visit on the 11th (Sat): steep yourself in history at Cooktown History Centre, get engrossed in the history at James Cook Museum, visit a coastal fixture at Grassy Hill, then take in the exciting artwork at Kuku Bulkaway Aboriginal Art Gallery, and finally kick back and relax at Finch Bay.

To find more things to do, reviews, and more tourist information, go to the Cooktown day trip app .

Drive from Mission Beach to Cooktown in 5.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 11th (Sat) early enough to travel to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Cooktown

Museums Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Jan 10 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
James Cook Museum ©
James Cook Museum
Grassy Hill ©
Grassy Hill
Finch Bay ©
Finch Bay

2
nights
Airlie Beach

Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Heart Reef and Bicentennial Walkway. Get outdoors at Kayaking & Canoeing and Waterskiing & Jetskiing. Spend the 14th (Tue) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. The adventure continues: relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, stop by Beach Book Boutique, and kick back and relax at Airlie Beach Lagoon.

To see where to stay, other places to visit, and other tourist information, use the Airlie Beach trip planner .

The Route module can help you plan travel from Cooktown to Airlie Beach. In January, daytime highs in Airlie Beach are 34°C, while nighttime lows are 28°C. On the 14th (Tue), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Jan 11 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Kayaking & Canoeing
Scuba & Snorkeling
Heart Reef ©
Heart Reef

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