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Cairns Helicopter Tours | Explore the Great Barrier Reef in 2024

(23 customer reviews)


Last updated on May 21, 2024 4:04 am
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Experience the beauty of Australia’s coastal city, Cairns. The city is situated in northeastern Queensland. It’s home to spectacular reefs, ancient tropical rainforests, and top Australian attractions.

With exhilarating helicopter flights, Cairns provides breathtaking landscapes including the renowned Great Barrier Reef. We’ve listed various options for you to enjoy the thrilling adventures from above as well as a few additional activities.


  • Explore the Great Barrier Reef
  • Experienced guides and informative commentary
  • Enjoy additional activities – underwater exploration with snorkeling stops

Know before you book:

  • Maximum single-seat weight is 130kgs – this includes carry-on luggage
  • Most tours do not have wheelchair accessibility
  • The helicopter ride is subject to weather conditions

Great Barrier Reef

In Cairns, you’ll encounter rich culture and history embedded within the city’s top landmarks. From the Cairns Botanical Gardens’ exceptional collections of tropical plants to discovering ancient rainforests, it’s an ideal spot for adventure-seekers.

Cairns is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) – a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reef stretches over 2,300 kilometers with more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.

It is home to rich ecosystems with a remarkable diversity of coral and countless species of marine life. With superb species including turtles, dolphins, and sharks, it’s easy to see why most tours include GBR helicopters.

So, let’s dive into the top tours to take part in when visiting Cairns.

Prices of Helicopter Tours – Cairns

Helicopter tours start from around $302 USD ($406 AUD) to $384 USD ($515 AUD), depending on the type of tour, duration, and supplementary activities.

Compare the prices of Cairns scenic flights below:

Cairns Helicopter Tours Times

Helicopter tours in Cairns operate daily and usually take place in the morning until the late afternoon. Tours typically start between 7 am and 10 am, with tour lengths varying from 30-minutes to 9-hours.

Note: Most tours provide free cancellation. You’ll have to cancel within 24 hours before your scheduled booking to receive a full refund.

Best Time to Go on a Helicopter Tour – Cairns

Wondering when to book your trip? Cairns offers splendid weather during its warmer seasons. In Australia, spring and summer occur between September and February.

Quick tip: Although spring and summer provide ideal weather, it usually is the busiest time for helicopter tours. Be sure to book early and reserve your spot.

Before booking helicopter rides, it’s vital to check the weather in advance. Cairns experiences its windiest weather during January, followed by February and November. Therefore, we recommend enjoying Queensland’s beauty by sky during its spring season in September and October.

Helicopter Rides – Cairns Scenic Packages

If you’re seeking a scenic adventure by helicopter, Cairns provides opportunities for breathtaking views of reefs and islands. Of course, there are spectacular photography opportunities. You can enjoy the Great Barrier Reef helicopter rides and discover the dazzling diversity of marine animals.

For those traveling with kids, keep in mind that it is a requirement for children aged 3 and above to remain in their seats at all times. Whereas infants can sit on their guardian’s lap and travel free of charge.

Below you will find the top tours to enjoy unforgettable aerial views.

Helicopter tour, Australia

Great Barrier Reef Helicopter Tour from Cairns

This 30-minute sightseeing flight by helicopter provides spectacular aerial views with enlightening commentary. The tour is ideal for those who are short on time. You’ll enjoy picturesque views of the Green Island and soar over the Great Barrier Reef.

Note: The tour requires a minimum of 2 travelers per booking with a maximum of 6-7 passengers per helicopter.

What we liked: Superior service with knowledgeable guides.
  • Pick-ups and drop-offs from Cairns and Northern Beaches hotels
  • Informative commentary during the helicopter flight
  • 30-minute scenic ride

  • Drinks and snacks
  • Snorkeling
  • Transfers to/from Port Douglas (can be purchased at $250 USD ($336 AUD) per car with a maximum of 4 passengers)

Prepare to fall in love with Australia’s striking views thanks to Great Barrier Reef helicopters. This tour takes place throughout the week with departure times varying between 08:00 am and 5:00 pm.

Departure Point: 2 Pier Point Rd, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

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Island in Australia

Moore Reef Scenic Helicopter Ride & Cruise from Cairns

This thrilling tour offers two package options – a cruise with helicopter return or a helicopter flight with cruise return. It is perfect for those who want to experience the destination’s beauty from the sky and sea.

You’ll enjoy an exhilarating 6-and-a-half hour trip. This includes a 25-minute guided helicopter ride and an air-conditioned catamaran cruise to/from Moore reef. The reef is a renowned diving location 40kms from Cairns, with crystal-clear water, colorful coral, and diverse marine life.

Additional activities include guided coral viewings, snorkeling with expert instructors, and cruise facilities such as a kids’ pool, showers, and a water slide.

What we liked: The tour provides a magnificent aerial and sea-level view of one of the world’s must-see natural wonders, the Moore reef.
  • Coffee, tea, and a delicious tropical buffet
  • Snorkeling equipment
  • Free pick-up from hotels within Cairns Central Business District

  • Cancellations and refunds
  • Other additional expenses
  • Insurance

This tour runs from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. If you’re looking to save on transport costs, why not consider traveling by bus. The nearest one is Spence Station at Grafton St – just an 8-minute walk from the departure point.

Departure point: Reef Fleet Terminal, LOT 996 Pier Point Rd, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

If a Cairns cruise interests you, check out our guide on the best boat tours in the city

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Great Barrier Reef coral

Great Barrier Reef & Rainforest Scenic Flight from Cairns

This 45- or 60-minute helicopter flight provides mesmerizing views. With views of glistening waterfalls, mountains, and a World Heritage-listed rainforest in Kuranda, this is an ideal journey for nature lovers.

Enjoy this scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef – don’t forget your camera to capture those spectacular views.

What we liked: Splendid views of the reef and rainforest from above.
  • Transfers to/from Cairns accommodation
  • Complimentary water
  • Commentary on sights

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off from Port Douglas
  • Food and snacks
  • Snorkeling

The tour’s operating hours are between 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. With pickups from Cairns hotels included in the tour.

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Kuranda rainforest, Australia

Green Island Helicopter Flight & Cruise Return

This tour is perfect for those looking to spend the day surrounded by striking scenery. The 7-hour activity begins with a captivating 20-minute helicopter ride to Green Island and returns via catamaran.

Discover the dazzling beauty of the Great Barrier Reef by glass-bottom boat or dive in with a snorkeling trip.

What we liked: Thrilling ride with relaxing return cruise.
  • Snorkeling equipment
  • Glass-bottom boat with coral reef tour
  • Lunch
  • Air-conditioned catamaran cruise

  • Hotel pickup and drop-offs
  • Other additional expenses

The starting time of the tour is 10:00 am. Keep in mind that you’ll have to check in 30 minutes before the departure time.

Departure point: 1 Pier Point Rd, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

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Green island, Australia

8.8Expert Score
Cairns helicopter tours offer excellent ways to experience the spectacular surroundings. With the Great Barrier Reef’s exceptional beauty right on its doorstep, this city is a must-see destination. Explore the awe-inspiring islands and dive into the dazzling sea, where an unforgettable adventure awaits.
Value for money
  • Exploring the Great Barrier Reef
  • Most tours include snorkeling equipment
  • Complimentary fun-filled activities for the entire family
  • Most tours are not wheelchair accessible
  • Some tours do not include pickups and drop-offs
  • Helicopter flights are subject to weather conditions

Specification: Cairns Helicopter Tours | Explore the Great Barrier Reef in 2024


Not wheelchair accessible


Depends on the individual tour


Guide, live commentary, Snorkeling gear, on most tours


Food and drink (unless specified)

Suitable For


23 reviews for Cairns Helicopter Tours | Explore the Great Barrier Reef in 2024

4.8 out of 5
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    Unfortunately rain into some weather problems but the staff was very accommodating and was able to get me on another heli at a later date before leaving the Carins area. Even though I was unable to fly over the reef, I was still given a private flight over the rain forest and treated like a VIP.

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    A first class outstanding tour with a company who deserve to be commended not only for the high quality of the service they provide but for also going out of their way, at their own expense, to make the experience unforgettable for their clients. I cannot praise them enough. The helicopter ride was breath- taking with spectacular views and the highlight of our Great Barrier Reef cruise. We were picked up from our cruise ship by taxi, the whole trip was clearly explained and throughout the ride we were able to request closer views, ask questions etc. Wonderful! Whilst waiting to board we asked the receptionist if she could possibly book a taxi to pick us up after the ride as we wanted to go to Kuranda Village. She suggested that it would be far better to go by cable car than road. We explained that that was what we had dearly wanted to do but were unable to due to time restrictions. When we went back to the hanger after our helicopter ride one of the staff was given the keys to a car and told to take us straight to Freshwater stationdeparture point for cable car where we had been booked onto the 11.00 am cable car, which meant we had sufficient time to do the 'round trip' The receptionist had gone to the trouble of sorting it all out for us. The company also refused to charge us for the 15 minute taxi ride to the cable car station . Talk about going the extra mile. Thank you so much. It was truly appreciated

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    Absolutely wonderful very professional and knowledgeable would go again in a heartbeat the views were just great

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