Home Queensland Cairns The best Beaches near Cairns and places not to miss

The best Beaches near Cairns and places not to miss

The best Beaches near Cairns and places not to miss

Located in the Tropical North of Queensland, the city of Cairns is renowned for its peaceful atmosphere and tropical climate. Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, it will inevitably charm you with its incredible seabed. Enjoying beaches with turquoise water and white sand is one of Cairns’ best activities. Many beaches and paradise islands are not to be missed in the region. Without further ado, here is our selection of the best beaches plus some of the places you shouldn’t miss near Cairns.

Where are located the best beaches ?

Palm Cove Beach

Just a short drive north of Cairns, Palm Cove is a picturesque beach town known for its palm-fringed beaches, boutique shops, and upscale restaurants. It’s the perfect spot to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy a tropical getaway. It is possible to swim in the sea on the main beach thanks to the protective nets that have been installed against jellyfish and crocodiles. The atmosphere and relaxing vibes of this small seaside resort are ideal for an afternoon of fun in the sun. 

Trinity Beach

Trinity Beach is one of Cairns’ most popular beaches for locals. It is as beautiful as the other northern beaches that border the coral coast of Cairns, but with a more down-to-earth and relaxed atmosphere, in a chic setting. Trinity Beach offers a more laid-back atmosphere compared to its bustling neighbor, Cairns, providing visitors with a peaceful retreat without sacrificing convenience. In addition, swimming is supervised all year round. The beachfront is lined with a variety of dining options, from casual cafes to gourmet restaurants, where visitors can savor fresh, local seafood while enjoying breathtaking ocean views. With its charming blend of natural beauty and modern amenities, Trinity Beach is a beloved destination for both locals and tourists seeking a tranquil beach experience in Far North Queensland.

Myall Beach – Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is, roughly speaking, the most northerly point in Queensland and the east coast of Australia which can be reached by car or van. The Beach is located in the 130,000 million-year-old Daintree Forest, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an amazing beach: the huge expanse of white sand bordered by the rainforest is very impressive, worthy of Jurassic Park decor. Unfortunately, once there, you will not be able to cool off by diving in this turquoise water. Do not even dare to dip a toe because crocodiles and deadly jellyfish are present in large numbers. Signs are placed everywhere to remind you.

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

Four Mile Beach, is located halfway between Port Douglas and Palm Cove. This iconic beach, named for its continuous four miles of pristine shoreline, offers a tranquil escape into paradise, where the crystal-clear waters and gentle waves beckon swimmers, sunbathers, and beachcombers alike. There is a supervised swimming area and showers nearby. It is a fairly wild beach, ideal for a few hours. The beach’s natural beauty is accentuated by the backdrop of lush, green mountains and palm trees swaying in the breeze, creating a postcard-perfect scene. Four Mile Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors for its serene atmosphere and the absence of high-rise buildings, which preserves its unspoiled charm.

Once you are in Port Douglas, for a great view of the city and the ocean, Flagstaff Hill lookout is THE place to go.

Oak Beach

Oak Beach is a secluded haven located just a short drive south of Port Douglas, offering a tranquil escape along the scenic coast near Cairns. This picturesque stretch of sand is enveloped by lush, tropical rainforest, providing a serene backdrop for beachgoers seeking privacy and natural beauty. Oak Beach is renowned for its clear waters and pristine conditions. It is an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and leisurely strolls along the shore. The beach’s seclusion makes it a perfect retreat for those looking to unwind away from the crowds, offering a peaceful atmosphere where the sounds of the ocean and wildlife are all that fill the air.

Clifton Beach

Clifton Beach is a very peaceful 6 km long beach located 20 minutes’ drive from Cairns city center. With its magnificent leaning palm trees that run along the coast, it is the ideal beach to get away from the bustle of the city. There too, the beach has a supervised swimming area. The beachfront is well-maintained with a parkland and equipped with barbecue facilities, picnic tables. There is also a playground, making it an excellent spot for gatherings with friends and family.

Ellis Beach

Here is another beautiful beach located between Cairns and Port Douglas: Ellis Beach. Bordered by coconut trees, a beautiful walk on it is possible. There is a beautiful tropical village around the beach and a breathtaking panorama. It’s the perfect place to come and watch the sunset and enjoy the view.

Nudey Beach

Nudey Beach brings together all the pictures of paradise beach: white sand, translucent water, palm trees, corals, surrounding jungle, etc. In the past, it was ranked first in the ranking of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. This is the most famous beach on Fitzroy Island, an island accessible by ferry from Cairns in 40 minutes. Rest assured, despite the name it bears, it is not a nudist beach. It’s a great snorkeling spot: turtles, fish, corals and harmless sharks are often there. In short, another beach not to be missed during your visit to the tropical north of Queensland!

Nudley Beach

Frankland Islands

Frankland Islands is a little paradise on earth, much wilder but just as beautiful as Fitzroy Island. To date, only one company offers day trips to get there: Frankland Islands Reef Cruises. The island has no infrastructure, only a few benches. It’s ideal for a day away from tourists and crowds. While exploring the surroundings, you will surely have the chance to come across turtles, harmless sharks. But also clownfish which make the reputation of this island. The beach that goes around the island is just amazing and you will really feel alone in the world.

The lagoon, Cairns

How to talk about the most beautiful beaches in Cairns without talking about its famous lagoon? Lounging in this place is a must when visiting the city. Since bathing in the sea is completely prohibited, the city has set up this place to allow people to cool off.
It is a very well-appointed space. There is a small beach for lounging in the sun, a pleasant view of the sea and to top it all off, completely free access. The esplanade around the lagoon is equipped with barbecues, benches, tables, showers and changing rooms with lockers. It’s the perfect place to spend some time with family or friends.

Places to visit near Cairns

If you had enough of those beautiful beaches, here are some places you can explore around Cairns:

Daintree National Park & ​​Cape Tribulation

The Daintree National Park is just a few kilometers from Port Douglas. The park covers 56,000 hectares and has about 3,000 kinds of plants, some of which are very old and very rare. To get there, you have to cross the Daintree River on a small ferry (tickets are $30 with a car). Ferry departures are every 10 minutes and the crossing only takes two minutes. A unique 34 km road will take you through this magnificent park to Cape Tribulation – a huge beach bordered by huge palm trees.

For more excitement, take a cruise on the Daintree River to watch the crocodiles. A guide will explain all the intricacies of the rainforest and the animals that live there. If you are lucky you will see some crocs!

You can also find day tours to Daintree, departing from Cairns for about $170/ pers.

Mossman Gorge

77km north of Cairns and 20km north of Port Douglas, stop at Mossman and set off on a gorge walk with a suspension bridge at the end. You can also swim, so don’t forget your bathing suit! The Mossman Gorge Centre houses an Aboriginal art gallery, a restaurant and a souvenir shop. It is also possible to participate in “Dreamtime walks” to get a better understanding of Aboriginal culture.

For magnificent views of the rainforest and the Barrier Reef, head to the Alexandra Range lookout. (Preferably in good weather!).

Atherton Tablelands

On this plateau at an average altitude of 700m inland, and to the west of Cairns, you will once again be amazed. Admire stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, including the rare Tree Kangaroo. The artificial lake Tinaroo is one of the most visited attractions in the area. Water sports, hiking and fishing are the most popular activities.

If you go deeper inland, head to Undara Volcanic Park. Located 3 hours by road from Atherton and 4h15 from Cairns, discover some of the longest lava tubes in the world. You can also admire ancient volcanoes such as the Seven Sisters.

Located near the plateau, Yungaburra is a pretty little town with a very nice historic pub. It is located just 13km east of Atherton. On the road from Atherton don’t miss the Curtain Fig Tree, which is one of the largest trees in the area: a huge fig tree with drooping roots of 15 meters, which form a funny curtain.

25km south of Atherton, you will find the Dinner Falls, accessible via a boardwalk. On the last Saturday of every month, the city comes to life with an art and food market. Don’t miss it if you are around. Knowing that the area is full of walks, activities and visits, we recommend two or three days in the area to make the most of it, especially because it’s a reasonably long trip.

There are three beautiful waterfalls hidden through Millaa Millaa. To get there, you must go to Millaa Millaa Falls and follow the circuit to discover the other falls. It’s also the perfect place for a swim!

Kuranda and the rainforest

Kuranda is a tourist village located high in the Atherton Tablelands. It is 25km northwest of Cairns and offers a different day out from the other destinations on this list. We recommend not driving there, because there are two much more spectacular options available!

  • The Kuranda Scenic Railway: a 34km tourist train from Cairns that will take you through the rainforest, the Barron Falls and other magnificent waterfall views. You’ll get the opportunity to learn more about the history of the region, while crisscrossing the mountains like in the old days. There are also several stops, so you can take pictures!
  • The Sky Rail: This is the longest and most ecological funicular in the world. It flies over the rainforest for more than 7.5km, making two stops at Red Peak and Barron Falls. The treetop views of the Daintree Forest are breathtaking!

To make the most of your trip to Kuranda, you can combine these two attractions. Make the outward journey by funicular, and the return by train, for example. Both of these means of transport depart from the tourist centre of Cairns.

Once you arrive in Kuranda itself, there are lots of different activities to choose form. Divide your time between the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, the zoo, market stalls, butterfly sanctuary, art galleries, eateries and many other local sights. Give yourself a whole day for your visit, factoring in the travel time.

Kuranda is also well known for its animals! This is the perfect place to cuddle a koala, to hang out with butterflies or even encounter birds. The tourist information centre offers discounted rates if you plan to visit more than one place. We are talking about three reserves: Birdworld, Butterfly Sanctuary and Kuranda Koala Garden.

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