Visiting The Cairns Aquarium 

 August 19, 2020

By  Dustin

Visiting The Aquarium in Cairns, Australia

The Cairns Aquarium opened on the 19th September 2017, and quickly became a popular tourism destination for those wanting to learn more about the underwater world without leaving the mainland.

The building is obviously still really new, and was designed with a vision.

As a result of this, when you enter the Aquarium, you’re quickly thrown into a environment that really helps you appreciate the fish, insects, reptiles, crustaceans, and amphibians in their habitats.

The Cairns Aquarium

What Makes The Cairns Aquarium Different?

The Aquarium was meticulously designed to follow the path of a drop of rain as it falls into the tropical rainforest, across the forest floor, joining creeks and streams, and then eventually moving its way past the mangrove flats, into the coral reef and then eventually to the coral sea.

Every piece of detail in the aquarium has been designed with intention.

This makes it so much more than just another place you can see some fish.

The founders Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston created the Aquarium as a way to instil their vision of inspiring people from all over the world to respect, protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland Tropical Rainforest.

It’s a passion that you can actually feel when you take your first step into the displays.

What To Expect

The journey through the Cairns Aquarium begins with the creeks and river system.

The dark corridors are illuminated by the large fish tanks along the walls, giving you a sense that you’re getting a glimpse of the river bed.

You’ll find anything from fish, to yabbies, to eels and more.

Family Friendly displays at the Cairns Aquarium

As you work your way through the aquarium, you’ll visit the following displays

  • River Systems
  • Creeks and Streams
  • Waterways and Billabongs
  • Tropical Rainforest
  • Forest Floor
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Dangers Of The Reef
  • The Coral Sea
  • Ribbon Reefs
  • Under The Pier

The aquarium isn’t as big as some in the major cities around Australia, but I do believe the Cairns Aquarium have done a really incredible job at showcasing the region and the unique beauty in our local eco-systems.

Walk through the tunnel at the Cairns Aquarium and be surrounded by sharks

You’ll find jellyfish, seahorses, hammerhead sharks, stingrays, saw fish, lobsters and everything in-between.

Some of the most popular displays at the Cairns Aquarium are

  • Touch tanks where you can touch a starfishsea, cucumber or even lizards
  • The tunnel where you can walk beneath hammerhead sharks, stingrays and Queensland Groupers
  • The crustacean rock pools, which has sneaky tunnels for young kids to explore
  • And the two storey Coral Reef display which seriously takes your breath away as it comes into view.

Of course, there’s so much more to the Cairns Aquarium than just those points I listed above. These are just some of my favourites and the displays that my kids are magnetically drawn to every time we visit.

Cairns Aquarium staff showing Minh how to pat a lizard

The aquarium is spread over two floors, but they do have both an escalator and an elevator, making it suitable for wheelchairs and prams.

Dive With The Sharks at The Cairns Aquarium

This experience will bring a thrill to those choosing to get up close and personal with the sharks in the main tank.

Even if you don’t have any diving experience, the staff will help you feel comfortable in the SCUBA equipment and create a memory you’ll never forget.

You’ll actually be getting more than you bargained for, because in the same tank as the sharks, is also Queensland groupers, large stingrays and more.

The total tour runs for a total of 3 hours including the dive briefing, and learning the dive skills. Time in the shark tank is around 25-30 minutes, starting at 12 noon Monday-Fridays (excluding public holidays)

The cost of the tour also covers general admission, so you can enjoy the rest of the aquarium before or after your dive at your own pace.

While you don’t need to be a certified diver to enjoy this experience, you do need to be at least 14 years old and be able to pass the Cairns Aquarium Shark Dive medical check for safety reasons.

Cairns Aquarium Tickets

There are a few different options for your Cairns Aquarium tickets depending on what you want to get out of it.

General Admission

All day admission to the Cairns Aquarium for you to enjoy at your own pace. Adult, Child and Family prices apply. Infants are considered 2 years old and younger and have free admission.

Cairns Aquarium also offers concession prices for Seniors, Students, Pensioners and Disabled Visitors, however they must have ID available to staff upon entry.

Touch star fish and sea cucumbers at the Cairns Aquarium Touch Tank

Annual Pass Membership

If you’re local to Cairns, you visit the region regularly, or your kids are keen to go back to the aquarium multiple times during your stay, you can pick up an Annual Pass Membership.

The Annual Membership gives you

  • Free Admission for the pass holder for one year
  • 10% off normal entry for your family and friends when they visit with them (excludes family passes)
  • 10% off Sea Explorer 5D
  • 10% off Double Discovery Tours
  • 15% off Aquarium by Night Experience
  • 10% off all gift shop merchandise
  • 10% off food only at Dundee’s Restaurant (not applicable on lunch/admission combos)
  • Access to member only offers and newsletters throughout the year.

As with general admission, different rates apply for families, adults, children, and concessions.

Dive With The Sharks At Cairns Aquarium

As I mentioned earlier, this is a truly unique experience to get up close and personal with sharks, stingrays, groupers and more.

Prices are available for children (14 years to 17 years) and adults (18+ years).

Please ensure you read the medical questionnaire before booking.

General Admission With Lunch Combo

Did you know that the Cairns Aquarium actually has a restaurant on site?

Not just any old restaurant either… Dundees!

Dundees has been a favourite for locals and tourists alike for many years, and they recently opened up a second location at the Cairns Aquarium.

This unique space has an enormous wall-to-wall fish tank that lights up the room which is impressively decorated to resemble the underside of a pier.

You can enjoy watching the fish and sharks cruise by as you dine.

The Cairns Aquarium offer a package deal giving you access to both the Aquarium General Admission and a two-course lunch at Dundees (Aquarium location) with a beverage OR dessert.

Adults, Children, and Concession rates apply.

Aquarium by Twilight with 3 Course Dinner

This is a truly incredible experience.

You’ll start the night by enjoying exclusive access to the Aquarium after-hours where an ecologist will guide you through 10 different ecosystems and countless habitats.

You’ll discover how the animals change their behaviour from day to night and observe the large predators including sharks, rays, and groupers.

You’ll then enjoy private canapes and drinks in the Oceanarium with your private group, before moving across to Dundees Restaurant at the Aquarium for dinner and dessert.

In Conclusion

The Cairns Aquarium is a really awesome place to visit as a family, and I believe it to be a really worthy cause.

The entire aquarium was created out of a vision to celebrate the region and to help preserve our local reef and rainforest.

There are many different experiences that you can enjoy at the Cairns Aquarium, regardless of your age.

If you’re wanting to book your tickets to the Cairns Aquarium, you can do that here.


How Long Do You Need At Cairns Aquarium

For general admission, allow around 2 hours to make your way through the Cairns Aquarium.

When Did The Cairns Aquarium Open?

The Cairns Aquarium opened on 18th September 2017


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