Angus McIndoe
March 7, 2021

12 places you have to visit around Cairns Beaches

Visiting Cairns’ beaches is like staring in your own David Attenborough documentary. The city's expansive display of natural wonders is unsurprising, given its placement among national parks, the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. It's the perfect destination for all ages, with a spectrum of things to discover from adventure activities and quirky cafes and restaurants, to luxury resorts and spas.

Best beaches near Cairns

Cairns has some of the most incredible beaches in all of Australia. With pure white sand and crystal blue waters, you don’t need to jet across international seas to find paradise. Up for beach-hopping? Here you go:

  • Trinity Beach
  • Clifton Beach 
  • Green Island
  • Myall Beach
  • Palm Cove
  • Ellis Beach
  • Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island
  • Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas
  • Dunk island

What to do in Cairns


Great Barrier Reef Cairns Australia
Photo by @_jamestf

1. Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Take the plunge at the Great Barrier Reef. As the world’s largest coral reef, it spans across 2,300 kilometres parallel to Cairns beaches and hosts a rich ecosystem with over 1500 types of fish. Perhaps take a day tour on a reef cruise, such as Great Adventures Reef Cruises or Quicksilver Reef Cruises. Just pack your underwater camera and these companies will take care of the rest, providing snorkelling equipment, wetsuits and activity-related equipment. The entire experience will, on average, cost $250 for an adult, with cheaper family and child prices. If deep diving isn’t for you, don’t fret as there are a bunch of other activities - like semi submarines, underwater observatory and viewing platforms, scuba diving or helicopter flights!


Photo by @_sarahatham

2. Skyrail

Feel like tapping into your inner Tarzan? Take a cable ride with Skyrail. You might not be swinging from trees but you’ll be taking in canopy views of Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. A one-way trip between Smithfield (Cairns) and Kuranda will cost you $57 and roughly take an hour and a half.

Kuranda Village Market Cairns Australia
Photo by @life_on_the_open_road_au

3. Kuranda Village Markets

After gliding across the rainforest canopy, spend some time in Kuranda - a vibrant mountain village offering a crisp, cool escape the hot Cairns beach weather and explore more natural wonders. Unmissable spots like Barron Falls and the Glacier Rock Lookout will be perfect for the outdoor lover. Kuranda also has two outdoor markets: Kuranda Original Rainforest Markets (open Thursday to Monday) and the Heritage Markets (open Thursday to Sunday). Here you’ll find anything from furniture and artwork to jewellery and clothing to local produce like macadamias, coffee and fruit.

Palm Cove Cairns Australia by @ditabrena
Photo by @ditabrena

4. Palm Cove 

Palm cove is probably best known for hosting some of the best swimming beaches in Cairns. Resting above Trinity beach Cairns and only a 30 minute drive north of the city, this picturesque resort town is the perfect place to relax in nature. The esplanade runs along the Cairns beach and is lined with centuries-old Melaleuca trees. There’s no surprise why this town has become a popular destination for wedding planners. You'd also want to spend some time at Millaa Millaa and Barron Falls.

Where to eat in Cairns

Salthouse Restaurant Cairns Australia
Photo by @salthousecairns

5. Salthouse

Positioned on the edge of the Marina, Salthouse is a fine dining experience that looks out across the harbour and Cairns beaches. Designed by renowned Sydney Architect Michael McCann, the restaurant incorporates fluid space and colours to reflect the ocean and mountains that engulf it. The kitchen is open plan with a custom-built Argentinian wood fired grill. Outside, there is a cocktail bar surrounded by ponds, fire installation and a glowing bar for local and visiting bands that perform three nights a week. Rest assured that the locally sourced menu, with fish that is caught from the bay, lives up to the restaurant’s impressive design. 

The Chambers Cafe Cairns Australia
Photo by @thechamberscairns

6. The Chambers Café 

If a cafes interior design is as important to you as the food itself, you’re going to want to bring your best camera to this cafe. The Chambers Café has a spectacular seasonally inspired menu with fresh flavours from the Far North region that will leave you in a food coma for the rest of the day. The café’s all-day brunch menu can be enjoyed within the oasis of a Parisian style, street-curb pavilion. As you sip your smoothie and inhale that smashed avo, take in the bustling beach town main street. If you’d prefer to admire the rustic red-brick interior décor of this restored 1920s bank, then ask for a table inside. The place still has the same original brick, bank shutters and steel beams that are more than 90 years old. Before leaving, get a takeaway sweet or savoury good baked by the in-house pastry chef! 


Where to drink in Cairns

Rocco by Crystalbrook Cairns Australia
Photo by @roccobycrystalbrook

7. Rocco

With 270 degree panoramic views of Cairns and the Coral Sea, Rocco is the city’s highest rooftop bar and restaurant. At the bar you’ll be directed to a flush of cocktails on the drinks menu. This includes novel and Mediterranean inspired cocktails such as Pucker Up (a fusion Belvedere Vodka, pomegranate and rose water to create a balanced and fluffy sour). The restaurant's earthy interior tones and prints reflect the Mediterranean inspired menu. The food menu is equally infused with a Mediterrainian twist and worth a try. 

Three Wolves Cairns Australia
Photo by @threewolvescairns

8. Three Wolves

To reach this hidden den of cocktails galore, you will have to venture down a little red brick lane. With speciality whiskey, spirit, cocktail, wine and beer selection, the menu caters to all taste palettes. To back it up, Three Wolves offers its own cocktail and whiskey master classes. While you’re here for a drink, we can’t promise you won’t be tempted by the exquisite tapas menu. It’s composed of seasonal ingredients to create colourful dishes with a Spanish edge. Designed to be shared (not that you will want to share the Pastrami and Sauerkraut Croquettes or Reef Fish Pepites!). 

Hemingway's Brewery Cairns Australia
Photo by

9. Hemingway’s Brewery 

For all the beer enthusiasts among us, Hemingway’s Brewery is the safe haven for your trip. Located in Cairns Wharf Venue, this local independent brewery offers innovative craft beer inspired by local provenance. It has taken home the Australian International Beer Awards for numerous beers, including The Tunnel 10 (crisp lager) and The Prospector (bohemian style pilsner). The wharf venue is the perfect place to retreat after a long day in the sun and meet other beer lovers. 

Best accommodation along Cairns beaches 

Photo by @pullmanpalmcover

10. Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort & Spa | from $200 a night

From $200/night. For a 5-star luxury resort along Cairns beaches, you can’t go past Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort & Spa. Situated at the southern end of the beach in Palm Cove, the Cairns beach resort is conveniently positioned close to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and Hartleys Crocodile Adventures. Not that you’ll need to stress about planning day trips because the resort has a highly qualified concierge service that will take care of it for you. The hotel has a range of accommodation options, starting from Studio Spa Rooms at $200 per night (for two people) to Plunge Pool Apartments at $565 per night (for seven people) 

By @kewarra_beach_resort

11. Kewarra Beach Resort & Spa

From $200/night. For Cairns accommodation near a beach, Kewarra Beach Resort & Spa provide luxury bungalows discretely dotted across 33 acres of lush tropical gardens. With prime positioning just above Trinity Beach Cairns, you'll be privvy to beachfront access to Kewarra beach and rainforest accommodation. Step out on your private balcony, or lounge in the free form swimming pools, complete with a waterfall spa, secluded cave and rock pools!


Bailey by Crystalbrook Collection Hotel Cairns Australia
By @bailey.crystalbrookcollection

12. Bailey, a Crystalbrook Collection Hotel

From $175/night. Looking for something a bit closer to the action? Bailey is a luxury hotel in the centre of town, only a short stroll away from sites like Cairns Art Gallery and restaurants like Salt House. If you’re a beach lover, then check out our guide to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. Keen to discover Brisbane instead? Why not take a road trip from Sydney to Queensland’s capital. If you’re ready to start planning your dream dream to Cairns, signup for access to Travis now to help you plan your perfect trip!

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