Although there are plenty of places offering a range of activities, from scenic flights to wildlife-watching, most involve tours to destinations that lie well beyond the city limits – as far afield as Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. Swimming and cycling are the main activities in town, along with a range of guided tours.

Is It Safe to Swim at Darwin's Beaches?

Darwin has some fabulous beaches, but choosing whether or not to swim is not as easy as you'd think. Darwin's swimming beaches tend to be far enough away from mangrove creeks to make the threat of meeting a crocodile remote (although not so long ago the NT News, on one of its notorious front pages, showed a saltwater croc surfing the waves at Vesteys Beach…). A bigger problem is the deadly box jellyfish, which makes swimming decidedly unhealthy between October and March (and often before October and until May). Unlike in tropical Queensland, there are no stinger nets here to allow safe swimming, due to both the expense of maintaining the fence and Darwin's strong tides.

If you do decide to swim, the most popular beaches are Mindil and Vesteys on Fannie Bay. Further north, a stretch of the 7km Casuarina Beach is an official nude beach.

You can swim year-round without fear of stingers in the western part of Lake Alexander, an easy cycle from the centre at East Point Reserve, and at the very popular Wave & Recreation Lagoons, the centrepiece of the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. At the recreation lagoon, filtered seawater and nets provide a natural seawater swim.

Cycling

Darwin is great for cycling (in the Dry!). Traffic is light and a series of bike tracks covers most of the city, with the main one running from the northern end of Cavenagh St to Fannie Bay, Coconut Grove, Nightcliff and Casuarina. At Fannie Bay, a side track heads out to the East Point Reserve. Consider heading to Charles Darwin National Park, 5km southeast of the city, with a few kilometres of path around the park's wetlands, woodlands and WWII bunkers.

Some hostels hire out bicycles for $15 to $25 per day for a mountain bike, or try Darwin Scooter Hire.