QueenslandTropical North QueenslandYou've got the iconic Great Barrier Reef just off-shore, the world's oldest rainforest at your disposal, and the vibrant red-earth of Queensland's vast outback at your doorstep - Tropical North Queensland is a must-do.
Feel the energy of a vibrant tropical culture of Cairns brought to life with festivals, events and experiences shaped by the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest. Revel in the outdoors lifestyle and ease of an intimate cosmopolitan city that is adventurous by nature. Be seduced by an easy-going beachside retreat where natural encounters, not crowds are the norm. Free your playful side exploring 14 kilometres of sand by bike, marvelling at romantic ruins or rafting the rapids to discover Mission Beach. Explore a vast savannah landscape where spectacular gorges, ancient lava tubes and the history of Australian pioneers await discovery. Uncover these hidden gems in the rugged lands of the Gulf Savannah. Refine your senses with an exotic getaway to an absolute beachfront tropical hideaway where every day is all about you. Indulge in beachfront dining, decadent day spas and tropical resorts to uncover Palm Cove or journey through the natural wilderness to the top of Australia and discover the landscapes of Cooktown & Cape York and follow in the footsteps of early explorers on an epic adventure taking in memorable pubs, Aboriginal culture and Australian pioneering history. Serene waterfalls, towering trees and crater lakes contrast against a tapestry of farms along self-drive trails to timeless villages and fascinating markets. Discover the exotic tropical flavours, unique wildlife and outdoor pursuits that make the Tablelands and Kuranda one of the many must-do's within the region. Let the charm of Port Douglas', boutique tropical village and the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest revitalise you. Indulge in dining, shopping and pampering and experience the beauty of two World Heritage areas in a region that is adventurous by nature. Welcome to Tropical North Queensland.
Take a water taxi out to Dunk Island
Dunk Island a stunning island just off the coast of Mission Beach in north Queensland. Most of the island is a national park, with unique tracts of rainforests, pristine beaches, and abundant species of wildlife. There are plenty of walking trails on the island, so you can fully experience the beauty of the rainforests. Be sure to walk to the top of Mt Kootaloo for spectacular views of the Dunk, and the mainland. While Dunk Island is perfect for day trips, there are nine campsites in the national park. Facilities include toilets, showers barbecues, and drinking water. You can get to Dunk from Mission Beach by boat and bus transfer.
Relax at Mission Beach
Nature takes centre stage at Mission Beach with its long unspoilt beaches, deserted islands and white-water rivers fringed by rainforest. There are no crowds at this seductive and easy-going destination which is perfect for relaxation or discovering adrenalin pumping outdoor activities. This is the birthplace of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, so exploring the reef is a must. Reef boats leave from the Clump Point jetty, join a kayaking tour or hire a dinghy and take a picnic to a deserted Great Barrier Reef island. Mission Beach has 14 kilometres of sandy beaches, so it is easy to find a quiet place to relax with a book or indulge by checking into the couple's room at a day spa and relaxing with the fabulous beach views. Four villages are collectively known as Mission Beach: South Mission Beach, Wongaling Beach, North Mission Beach and Bingil Bay. Lush rainforest touches the shores of Mission Beach, hiding the elusive southern cassowary. Look for these majestic creatures on an easy rainforest walks and keep an eye out for the brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly, another local icon. Nearby is the spectacular Misty Mountains Trail, a series of long-distance walking tracks through the high-altitude rainforest. Several follow the ridgelines used by the area's traditional owners, the Jirrbal and Mamu Aboriginal people. The serene beauty of Mission Beach hides another side to this friendly beachside retreat - adrenalin-pumping adventure. Skydive from a plane on to the beach, head into the heart of the rainforest for white water rafting or explore the area on a jet ski or mountain bike. Luxurious resorts, elegant hill-top apartments and beach houses are favourites for those wanting to escape from their busy lives or choose from family-friendly motels, beach caravan parks and popular backpacker hostels. Mission Beach is about a two-hour drive south of Cairns.
Relax under a coconut palm, paddle around a Great Barrier Reef island, enjoy a spa treatment or delight in a fusion of tropical delicacies. It is all part of life at Palm Cove, an intimate slice of paradise boasting a plethora of holiday experiences. With its long sandy beach lapped by the Coral Sea and a backdrop of rainforest-clad mountains, Palm Cove offers ultimate tropical serenity in a postcard setting. It's the perfect place to relax with a book while enjoying the sun or to discover summer fashions after an early morning dip in the ocean. Dangle your legs over the jetty while the locals hook a fish or stroll along the shady tree-lined paths to experience the welcoming village atmosphere which earned Palm Cove the title of Queensland's Friendliest Beach. This sophisticated beachside hub boasts award-winning restaurants, peaceful day spas and exceptional resorts along its picturesque esplanade where ancient melaleucas define the relaxing atmosphere. The sheer variety of dining experiences at Palm Cove means your palate can take a trip around the world, discover tropical produce at its best or reminisce with fish and chips by the sea. Accommodation options are just as varied whether you prefer the luxury of a resort, the convenience of an apartment or want to pitch your tent at the caravan park right on the beach. Palm Cove is a 30-minute drive north of Cairns.
Go diving at Mission Beach
Welcome to Mission Beach Dive where they will create your Outer Great Barrier Reef Experience! They can help you whether you wish to take your family snorkelling, a couple's special dive or snorkel charter, advance your dive training and more. They offer two distinctively different vessels and activities to choose from with different price ranges to suit all budgets.
Go on an adventure in Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation, in Daintree National Park, is famed for steep rainforested mountains sweeping down to long sandy beaches and turquoise coastal waters. One of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, this park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the coastal waters are within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. At Cape Tribulation, rainforest meets the reef, and two world heritage areas collide, in spectacular style! The Cape Tribulation section of the park stretches in a narrow strip from the Daintree River in the south to the Bloomfield River in the north and the dense upland rainforest that cloaks the coastal range contains many ancient plants and animals. Camp at Noah Beach camping area and explore the park on walks ranging from the 650-metre return Jindalba boardwalk through tropical lowland rainforest, to the 1.2-kilometre return Marrja boardwalk through rainforest and mangroves. Experienced and well-prepared bushwalkers can tackle the 7 kilometres return Mount Sorrow ridge trail. Keep an eye out for cassowaries and drive slowly through cassowary territory. Remember to be croc wise around creeks and beaches.
Visit Cape York
Rich with Aboriginal culture and Australian pioneering history, Cape York is an untamed wilderness area waiting to be explored. The journey through Cape York Peninsula to the top of Australia is an epic adventure taking in memorable pubs, ancient rock art and spectacular natural scenery. Drive along red outback roads, explore wetlands brimming with birds and fish, discover gold town ruins, try your luck at isolated fishing spots and cool off in a pristine waterfall. Watch for a flash of red as a palm cockatoo takes flight, admire Aboriginal artists at work or join a helicopter muster. Magnificent national parks, Aboriginal and Islander communities, cattle stations and tiny towns can be visited, each with its own story of adventure to tell. This region is renowned as the site of the world's largest body of prehistoric rock art and is rated by UNESCO in the top 10 rare rock art sites in the world. Take a self-guided tour or join an Indigenous guide for a unique cultural insight. Bushwalking, four-wheel driving, wildlife watching, fishing, bird watching and camping are the things to do in Cape York, a unique wilderness area that remains relatively untouched, maintaining its original beauty and diversity.
Colourful, quirky Kuranda in the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics rainforest has daily markets and a quaint main street lined with shops and galleries as well as wildlife experiences perfect for close encounters. The village in the rainforest has earned a reputation as the arts and crafts nexus of Tropical North Queensland and is a popular destination in conjunction with journeys on Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Kuranda Scenic Railway. Kuranda's cool, tropical mountain climate makes it ideal for rainforest walks along the Barron River, or around the village itself where majestic fig trees are home to yellow fig birds and colourful parrots. Drive or take a shuttle bus through a tunnel of green rainforest along Barron Falls Road to see the spectacular Barron Gorge and its mighty waterfall which powers a hydro-electric station. For keen walkers, the Barron Gorge National Park offers short and long walks accessible from Wrights Lookout and the Speewah Conservation Park campground. Experience Aboriginal culture, visit a gallery with local Indigenous art or learn to play the didgeridoo. Surround yourself with colourful butterflies, listen to a noisy chorus of birds, cuddle a koala, get up close to Australia's unique creatures or hang about with a bat at one of the wildlife exhibits in the heart of Kuranda.
Drive Savannah Way
Explore five World Heritage areas on a journey through Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia on Australia's adventure drive, the Savannah Way. This trek across the top of Australia starts in the tropical city of Cairns where you can visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest and takes you to Broome's spectacular Cable Beach. Diverse landscapes and incredible natural attractions can be found along the way on this 30-day drive. Discover the world's longest lava tube, fossick for topaz, glide through gorges and go croc spotting in Queensland. Take a historical train ride, visit a gold mining ghost town and see where Burke and Wills set up camp in 1861. Gorges, natural springs and remarkable stone outcrops punctuate the scenery as you drive across the Northern Territory's top end. See the wetlands of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, discover just how good the fishing can be around Borroloola and visit the Aboriginal art sites at Gregory National Park. The Kimberley region of Western Australia is the country's last frontier with highlights including the World Heritage-listed Bungle Bungles and authentic Aboriginal cultural experiences. End your journey soaking up the unique outback atmosphere of Broome.
Swim at Crystal Cascades
Crystal Cascades is a series of water holes and waterfalls in a section of Freshwater Creek only a short 20-minute drive from Cairns Central Business District. Shaded by rainforest canopy and surrounded by impressive granite boulders, the pools stay cool throughout the year even in the warmer months. There's a short 1.5 kilometer paved trail that leads to several swimming holes culminating at a waterfall at the end of the track. There is also a barbecue and picnic area with toilet facilities, all maintained by Cairns Regional Council. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, both in the water and on the banks. Most animals will steer clear of visitors, but the goannas might snatch food if they get the chance. Warning: There may be hidden submerged rocks in nearby pools – obey the signs and warnings.
Visit Cardwell Spa pool
The Cardwell Spa Pool is a naturally-fed seasonal creek. Located in the coastal town of Cardwell, just 2.5 hours south of Cairns, the pools are somewhat of a geological wonder. Thanks to the chemistry of the rocks and water, the colour can vary from a bright, baby blue to a more milky-blue colour depending on the time of day and available sunlight. May to September is the best time to visit the pool, as rains during the summer months will usually flush the creek out, returning it to normal levels from around March each year.
Horn Island is part of the Torres Strait Islands group at the tip of Cape York Peninsula, Australia's northernmost point. Located approximately 17 kilometres off Queensland's coast and just south of Papua New Guinea, Horn Island offers a truly remarkable island experience. Horn Island came to prominence during World War II when it suffered eight Japanese air raids. Today the island has a small population of approximately 650 people, with a focus on pearling and fishing. Horn Island is home to the only airport in the Torres Strait Island group, as most of the other inhabited islands only have an airstrip. Make sure to visit the museum and art gallery in the small town of Wasaga. And be sure not to miss some of the historic World War II sites on one of the tours that operate on the island. Horn Island is a lovely island to experience the exciting fusion of Melanesian and Australian Aboriginal cultures. But make sure to get permission from the Torres Strait Regional Authority if you plan to visit any of the other islands (except for Thursday Island).
Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
Boodjamulla is one of Queensland's most exceptional parks, boasting spectacular gorge scenery, diverse wildlife, exhilarating walking and canoeing, and fossils deposits dating back 25 million years. Here, Lawn Hill Gorge carves a serpentine ribbon of green through the dry savannah landscape, creating an oasis in the outback. The gorge's vivid orange sandstone cliffs tower above emerald green lime-rich waters of Lawn Hill Creek. Paddle your canoe serenely through lily-clad waters on the Lawn Hill Gorge canoe trail. Make an early start and walk the short but strenuous Island Stack to experience first light over the gorge, or hike the Constance Range track for sunset views. Appreciate the connection between the Waanyi Aboriginal people and their land on the Rainbow Serpent track, and marvel at rock art on the Wild Dog Dreaming track. Stay in Lawn Hill Gorge camping area and revel in the peace of the outback and this special oasis. Discover ancient fossils on the Riversleigh fossil trail at Riversleigh World Heritage Site, and gain a fascinating glimpse into the distant past. Riversleigh is part of the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh/Naracoorte) World Heritage Area, famed for its outstanding examples of the record of life and evolutionary history.
Stay and explore Lizard Island
Lizard Island is truly secluded from the rest of the world. With 24 powdery-white beaches and 40 luxurious suites, it is the most northern resort in tropical Queensland and is located directly on the Great Barrier Reef. A National Park covering 1013 hectares with 24 sandy beaches and a lagoon, Lizard Island is accessible only by private charter from Cairns Airport in northern Queensland, Australia. Cairns Airport is accessible from all major Australian airports and directly from some cities in Asia. Lizard Island is renowned for its scuba diving and snorkelling and is surrounded by coral reefs, ribbon, and lagoon reefs. But its Lizard Island's close proximity to one of the best-known diving sites in the Great Barrier Reef, Cod Hole, that distinguishes it from many other reef islands. Lizard Island Resort is reserved for the fortunate few who will experience an unforgettable holiday like no other. Enjoy secluded picnics and sunset beach degustation on private beaches, five-star cuisine in the beautiful Salt Water restaurant and indulgent spa treatments in the Essentia Day Spa. Relax in style in premium accommodation and take in the wonders of Australia's Great Barrier Reef - right on your doorstep. There is also a campground at the national park at the northern end of Watson Bay. And when you have the chance, make sure to take one of the many magnificent walks on the island. On at least one you can expect to glimpse a Monitor, the lizard after which Lizard Island was originally named.
Explore the Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland is undeniably one of the most exciting and diverse regions to visit in Australia and the Atherton Tablelands sits at the very heart of it. With its breathtaking waterfalls, scenic vistas at every turn, impressive lakes, lush rainforest and rugged outback, a visit to this region promises to be one of great contrast, beauty and exploration. People often ask what is the best thing about the Atherton Tablelands. If you have ever visited the region, you will have discovered there is more than one. Visitors love to spend their days enjoying scenic country drives, leisurely boat cruises, wildlife spotting, experimenting with local food and unearthing the fascinating geological history. Explore the gateways from the reef to the rainforest before you find yourself spoiled for choice in this stunning region. Plan to stay at least five days, as there is so much to see and do. Divide your time between the Southern and Northern Tablelands on what will be an unforgettable self-drive journey and see for yourself the changing landscape of this diverse region. For history buffs, the Atherton Tablelands boasts some incredible historical points of interest from wartime to Chinese settlement and Australia’s early pioneer days. Country markets brimming with local produce and homemade crafts are also worth a visit. For those who like to play, you are entering an adventure playground complete with water sports, mountain biking, hiking and camping. Roadside stalls offer a bounty of fresh goodies and depending on the season expect to find mangoes, watermelon, papaya, avocados, potatoes, pumpkin, blueberries, strawberries, bananas and more.
Leave your watch behind when you go to Thursday Island as this colourful island paradise is where time does seem to stand still. It is one of 274 islands which lie between the northern tip of Queensland and Papua New Guinea in the Torres Strait. This unique tropical region is home to the Indigenous Torres Strait Islanders whose culture is rich in the arts and whose lifestyle has evolved from the sea and its abundance of wildlife. You can reach Thursday Island via Horn Island either by plane from Cairns or Bamaga or by boat from Bamaga. While on Horn Island, visit the museum showcasing the Torres Strait's involvement in World War 2 and the pearling industry before you catch a boat to picturesque Thursday Island. The administrative centre of the Torres Strait, Thursday Island has modern accommodation and tours plus incredible fishing in the surrounding waters. Visit Green Hill Fort and the cannons which once guarded the island's main approaches. Its refurbished underground tunnels house the Torres Strait Historical Museum. Historical artefacts and contemporary Indigenous art can be seen at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre.
Stay in Port Douglas
Port Douglas is the gateway to the World Heritage wonders of Tropical North Queensland. It is the closest mainland port to the Great Barrier Reef and only a short drive into the heart of the Wet Tropics rainforest at Daintree and Cape Tribulation. Getting to Port Douglas from Cairns is an hour's drive along one of Australia's most scenic coastal roads with the rainforest on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. Favoured by A-list celebrities as the place to get away, Port Douglas is an intimate and relaxed town where food, wine, arts and culture are appreciated. The friendly locals are only too happy to include visitors whether it's sharing their favourite coffee stops and fishing spots or playing 18 holes on a world-class golf course. Feel the pace slow as you revitalize with lazy days on the beach, or come alive and explore nature's untamed tropical wonders. Swim at beautiful Four Mile Beach, wander down the main street for boutique shopping with a tropical twist, dine with the birds at a wildlife park or dive into the Great Barrier Reef. Nearby is Mossman Gorge, a spectacular freshwater swimming hole where you can experience local Indigenous culture and explore the Daintree rainforest. Restaurants are many and varied with delicious interpretations of local produce and tastes from around the world, or relax with a counter meal at a glorious Queenslander pub. While luxury is definitely a highlight of Port Douglas with magnificent resorts, elegant homes and superb apartments the holiday choice of the well-heeled, backpackers and families are equally well catered for in the relaxed tropical atmosphere of Port.
Discover more in Queensland
- Atherton Tablelands
- Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
- Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park
- Cape York
- Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park
- Fraser Coast
- Gold Coast
- Great Barrier Reef
- Hervey Bay
- Magnetic Island
- Mission Beach
- Outback Queensland
- Port Douglas
- Seventeen Seventy
- Southern Queensland County
- Sunshine Coast
- The Whitsundays
- Thursday Island
- Tropical North Queensland