Cairns, Port Douglas, Atherton Tablelands Innisfail and Mareeba


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The team at Tropical Life have come together and after much deliberation we’ve come up with a list of the top five beaches in Far North Queensland as voted by us. See below to find out:


Jump aboard a fast ferry out of Cairns and you can be spreading your beach towel on Nudey Beach within the hour. Contrary to its titillating name, this stunning arch of coral and shells rarely sees a show of flesh, with most visitors donning their wetsuits and sun shirts to spend hours exploring the shallow coral gardens that hug the shore. Great colourful bombies rise up at low tide, luring snorkellers to join an endless procession of luminescent parrotfish and wrasse, and glide with green sea turtles over staghorn and plate coral peppered with vibrant clams and Christmas tree worms. Boasting an eco-friendly resort, the laidback Foxy’s beach bar and a beachfront campground with affordable sites, this tropical isle is relaxation central. The 600m walk to Nudey Beach takes about 20 minutes along a path that separates the rainforest from the reef, and climbs to a stunning granite lookout over an opal blue sea. Elsewhere on this rainforest national park island, trails follow fluttering butterflies into the Secret Garden, and climb to the island’s summit for grand Coral Sea views. Snorkel off Bird Rock at the northern end of Welcome Beach, or paddle a kayak to Little Fitzroy Island.


North of Palm Cove, the Captain Cook Highway winds its way to Port Douglas along a skinny strip of road carved between steep cliffs and the sea. This might well be Queensland’s most scenic coastal drive and just as Cairns finally fades in the rear view mirror, Ellis Beach looms into view, fringed by towering paperbark trees and coconut palms. Up the road, hang-gliders launch themselves into the abyss from Rex Lookout, drifting south above Wangetti Beach, which is home to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. Further north there are lovely stretches of sand at Oak and Thala beaches where you might spot dolphins and turtles just offshore. Keep an eye out for crocs amongst the mangroves at the Mowbray River crossing, a popular fishing spot.


Cape Tribulation may have wreaked havoc for Captain Cook when the Endeavour ran aground on an offshore reef back in 1770, but it’s been a source of immense pleasure for forest-lovers ever since. Shadowed by misty mountains and protecting world heritage-listed crocodile and cassowary habitat, Cape Tribulation severs two stellar sweeps of sand. Most travellers seem content to spend their time on the easily accessible northern beach, strolling along the 400m trail to a viewpoint looking north. But if you cross over the rainforest of Cape Tribulation and continue south, you’ll discover magical Myall Beach. This easy trail through a rainforest popular with iridescent blue Ulysses butterflies is exceptional at dawn, and you might just plant the first footsteps on the sand. Bounded to the west by the McDowall Range and to the east by the Great Barrier Reef, the Cape Tribulation section of Daintree National Park contains the world’s oldest living rainforests. Most of the planet’s 19 primitive plant species thrive here. A singular national park campground at Noah Beach, 8km south of Cape Tribulation, provides snug beachfront sites with basic facilities to suit camper trailers and small rigs.


The famously firm Four Mile Beach not only provides one of the most scenic bike rides in the north, this endless, white sand beach is bordered by bush almond trees and the deep blue water is a great place to swim. A fringe of casuarinas throws plenty of shade, and there are picnic shelters and barbecues and a conveniently located ice-cream shop across the road. Head to the beachfront surf lifesaving club to sate appetites in between dips (sandy feet are de rigueur), or enjoy a sundowner on the deck. Catamaran cruises to coral-fringed Low Isles top the list, along with outer reef dive trips and croc-spotting cruises up wild reaches of the Daintree River. Don’t miss a wander around the weekend markets or a cheap trip aboard the historic Bally Hooley Railway.  

5.  Turtle Bay Beach, Yarrabah

An exclusive getaway only minutes from Fitzroy Island. This beach is extremely private and is only available by boat. There are no tours that travel to this beach directly and it’s not a tourism hotspot. However, this beach is amongst Far North Queensland’s best and locals don’t want you to known about it. Surprisingly it that has surf, fresh water creeks and a yellow sandy beach. If you love peace and quiet, then this best offers just that. Sometimes you can be the only person on this beach. Definitely one of Far North Queensland best kept secrets. Now are you ready to take the plunge and purchase in Tropical North Queensland?

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