Beaches in Tropical North Queensland: 15 Best Ones To Visit (UPDATED 2024)

The Best Beaches to visit near Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef


15 Best Beaches in Tropical North Queensland


Fancy visiting the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland? Then you should be interested in this post. Here is how it is structured.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2 Beaches in Tropical North Queensland
2.1 Trinity Beach
2.2 Kewarra Beach
2.3 Cow Bay
2.4 Newell Beach
2.5 Wonga Beach
2.6 Wangetti Beach
2.7 Bramston Beach
2.8 Four Mile Beach
2.9 Clifton Beach
2.10 Palm Cove
2.11 Etty Bay
2.12 Ellis Beach
2.13 Holloways Beach
2.14 Yorkeys Knob
2.15 Machans Beach
3. Final Thought
4. FAQs

(My post about the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

Read Time: 11 Minutes



There is no question in my mind that the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland, rank among the best beaches, not just in Australia, but also the world.

Comprising an area that starts from Cardwell at its southernmost point and stretches all the way up north to the Torres Strait, and also incorporates the landscape out west to Queensland/Northern Territory border , this region is unlike anywhere else in the country.

Its coastal areas, in particular, are sensational. Incorporating everything from popular family-friendly holiday destinations, with plenty of upscale resort and hotel accommodation, to areas so seemingly remote, you might not see anyone else while you are there. At the same time, they also provide convenient start off points for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, as well as notable destinations within the Daintree National Park.

So, if you are planning a visit to this incredible part of the country, which beaches should you head to?

Here, in no particular order, is my take on the 15 best beaches in Tropical North Queensland. If you do end up making it to this incredible part of the world, I strongly recommend you visit as many of these as you can.


Beaches in Tropical North Queensland

Here are the 15 best beaches in Tropical North Queensland to visit during your time in the area.


Trinity Beach

Situated just 10-minutes from Palm Cove and about 30 minutes north of the Cairns CBD, Trinity Beach is a popular and easy-to-get to beach for locals and tourists.

Boasting a quiet, residential feel, it features a picture-perfect row of coconut and almond trees, which provide welcome shade on a sunny day. The beach is patrolled all year round and has a stinger net in the summer months. It also has plenty of bench seating and free BBQs along its coastline.

Directly across the road from the beachfront is a nice selection of cafes, restaurants and holiday accommodation options. You’ll also find a handful of walking tracks within the area, including the idyllic Taylor’s Point, which is located at the beach’s southern end and Earl Hill, which is arguably the most popular one of all beaches in Tropical North Queensland.


View of the palm trees at Trinity Beach Far North Queensland
View of the palm trees at Trinity Beach Far North Queensland


Kewarra Beach

If you are looking for a place to escape the tourists, then Kewarra Beach is one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland to do this. Even though it is just a 20-minute drive away from the Cairns CBD, you are unlikely to find any holidaymakers here.

Instead, this quiet and secluded beach is a popular spot for local dog walkers and anglers. Throughout the warmer months, the beach is patrolled, and there is also a stinger net, so you’ll be able to go for a dip. You should have no trouble finding a parking space either.

When the weather gets a bit cooler, it is worth coming here for tapas, pizza, and drinks, which are served directly on the sand by the Kewarra Beach Resort a few nights a week. You can also choose to enjoy a meal all year round at their exquisite fine-dining venue which is nestled among long palm forest and eucalypts.


Sunset at Kewarra Beach in Tropical North Queensland, Australia
Sunset at Kewarra Beach in Tropical North Queensland


Cow Bay

Cow Bay is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland, yet only a small percentage of tourists to the region seem to go there. One reason is its remoteness – halfway between Cape Tribulation and the Daintree River, about 135 km from Cairns.

Although it will take you the best part of three hours to get there, it is worth the effort because this enchanting beach features a sublime mix of pristine coastline, ancient rainforest and the brooding silhouette of the Alexandra Range.

It’s highly likely you’ll have Cow Bay to yourself – bar a few cassowaries, butterflies and birds – so if you are looking for a digital or people detox its the perfect destination. Just make sure you don’t go for a swim due as the beach is not patrolled and there are crocs and stingers around.


Newell Beach

If you are looking for a coastal destination that ticks all the boxes, then you’ll surely find Newell Beach to be one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland.

Nestled in between Port Douglas and the Daintree National Park, this pristine 2.5 km beach presents superb views to the south of Port Douglas and the lighthouse to the east on the Low Isles.

Its also is flanked by estuaries to its north and south, which presents superb fishing opportunities for barramundi from the boat ramps that lie at Saltwater Creek and the northern reaches of the sand. However, they are prevalent with crocodiles, so you will need to be vigilant at all times.

Overall, Newell Beach is a nice place to relax for a few hours and makes a pleasant change from Port Douglas. It is also located just a few minutes from the historic sugar town of Mossman, so after you have visited the beach you can stop for something to eat there.


Things to do away from the beaches in Tropical North Queensland

Fancy a break from the beach?

Both Viator and Get Your Guide offer these awesome tours:

  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation
  • Cairns Esplanade
  • Kuranda Scenic Railway
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Atherton Tablelands
  • Cairns Wildlife Dome
  • Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Barron Gorge National Park
  • Cairns Botanic Gardens
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Fishing and Boating
  • Hot Air Ballooning
  • White Water Rafting
  • Cairns Aquarium
  • Helicopter Tours
  • Wonga Beach

    Wonga Beach is another beach that is far removed from the tourist trail. Located about 80 km to the north of Cairns, it was previously called ‘Bells Beach’ in reference to it previously being owned by the Bell family. However, it has since been changed to Wonga Beach in reference to the local Aboriginal word ‘Wongarra’, which means ‘far across the sea or water’.

    Notable for its long stretch of untouched sand backed by a verdant backdrop of large coconut palms and Calophyllum trees, this beach boasts stunning views of the Great Barrier Reef and the nearby Snapper Island.

    When you look south you can also see Island Point, which hides the entrance to the Port Douglas harbour – so called as it looks like an offshore island. To the north, the Alexandra Range features rainforest clad mountains that were named after a Danish princess who married the Prince of Wales. (Behind it is the Dagma Range, named in honour of her younger sister.

    The secluded coastline here is one the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland for birdwatching, as many avian species can be found here. Local operators run tours where you can horse ride on the beach or take a kayak over to Snapper Island.


    Wangetti Beach

    Its would be easy to miss Wangetti Beach behind the verdant bushland that flanks it on your way to and from Palm Cove and Port Douglas, which would be a real shame, because its spectacular stretch of pristine coastline undeniably makes it one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland.

    Extending for about 4 km between Red Cliff Point and Slip Cliff Point, this beach is the definition of remote. It has nothing in the way of facilities and is not patrolled, although there are car parks on both ends of the beach.

    If you do visit Wangetti Beach, you should check out the southern end where you’ll find a raw patch of naturally eroded coastline which features large pebble stones that people have used to construct towers. Its also a good place to skim stones across the water or go for a nice long walk. From the northern end of the beach you’ll get a full view of the entire 4 km stretch of sand, which makes for a perfect Insta photo.


    Sand at Wangetti Beach in Far North Queensland
    Sand at Wangetti Beach in Far North Queensland


    Bramston Beach

    Many tourists think the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland only start once you get past Cairns. But that is not the case at all, Bramston Beach, which is 82 km south of Cairns and just 30km north of Innisfail is arguably the most impressive of all. Though once again, many tourists often miss it.

    Framed by swaying palm trees and fringed by golden sands that stretch for eleven glorious kilometres, those who do make it here find their own little piece of paradise. While you won’t see many other people, you might experience the odd kangaroo, wallaby or cassowary strutting along the shoreline. When you look out to the Coral Sea, you should also catch a glimpse of pods of Australian Humpback Dolphins frolicking in between the waves.

    Overall, this idyllic beach is a good spot for fishing, walking and photography. There are also several BBQs and shaded picnic areas, as well as the fabulous Bramston Beach Cafe where you can enjoy a splendid serve of fish and chips.


    Four Mile Beach

    If you were to ask anyone who has been to the region what they thought was the best of all beaches in Tropical North Queensland, there is a fair chance the majority would say Four Mile Beach.

    The main drawcard of the vibrant coastal town of Port Douglas, this spectacular, gently curving beach is lined with palm and coconut trees, which along with the golden hues of the sand offset perfectly from the shimmering waters of the Coral Sea.

    As its name suggests, this picturesque stretch of shoreline extends for four miles. It is patrolled and has a stinger net at its northern end, which makes for ideal conditions for swimming and snorkelling. It is also a great beach for walking and sunbathing.

    If you decide to stay here, there are several excellent resorts and restaurants situated within a stone’s throw of the sand.


    Ocean view of Port Douglas Four Mile Beach in Tropical North Queensland
    Ocean view of Port Douglas Four Mile Beach in Tropical North Queensland


    Clifton Beach

    Located about 23 km north of Cairns and not far from Palm Cove resides the picturesque, palm-fringed shores of Clifton Beach.

    Connected to it by a cycling and walking track, this quiet and unspoilt coastal suburb is one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland for young families. It is frequented mainly by locals, so has a laid-back and relaxed feel to it that you should instantly warm to.

    The sand is patrolled by the local surf-lifesaving club and has a stinger net in place over the summer months. There is also a children’s playground and a good mix of picnic tables and barbecue facilities dotted along the beach. You should have no trouble finding a parking space and the nearby Clifton Village Shopping Centre has supermarkets and eateries.


    Palm Cove

    Those who didn’t say Four Mile Beach was the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland would probably have picked Palm Cove instead.

    Arguably the jewel of the region’s coastal suburbs, Palm Cove is defined by rows of centuries-old ‘paperbark’ Melaleuca trees that line the idyllic esplanade and fringe the golden sand.

    What sets the suburb apart from others is the sophisticated edge it has, thanks in part to several five-star resorts being located here as well as world-class restaurants like Nu Nu, where you can dine in between the trees.

    The area also has plenty of award winning spas, as well as sand that you can walk for a long way on, a stinger net, fishing pier and one of region’s most incredible spots for taking in a beautiful sunrise.


    Aerial view of Palm Cove Far North Queensland in Australia
    Aerial view of Palm Cove Far North Queensland in Australia


    Etty Bay

    You might not have heard of Etty Bay. But if you visit it you will never forget it.

    This scenic beach is 15 km from Innisfail and a smidgen under 100 km south of Cairns. It is popular with locals and is just about big enough to accommodate a small caravan park and Surf Lifesaving Club. Its pristine white-sand is backed by a thin tree-shaded reserve, which rises to 250 metre high forested slopes that rise from behind the beach, giving it a dramatic aesthetic.

    Although the beach is a nice place for sunbathing, walking and swimming in the stinger nets, what makes this one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland to visit is the opportunity to see the magnificent (and flightless) Southern Cassowary – which tends to patrol the area mostly in the early morning or latter part of the afternoon.


    Ellis Beach

    Ellis Beach has a population of just 24 people, all of whom can boast of living besides one of the best beaches in Tropical north Queensland.

    In a region with many beautiful stretches of coastline, Ellis Beach stands out for its eye-catching pumice-filled shoreline, expansive sand and lush backdrop of palm trees that define it.

    While it is only a five minute drive north of Palm Cove, this stunning 6 km stretch of sand is the perfect spots for a day of fun in the sun. The local surf lifesaving club patrols the beach and hosts regular events and competitions along the sand. There is also a stinger net for those who want to swim safely in the summer months and a lovely beachfront caravan park, which makes it the perfect place to stay.

    If you don’t have any luck catching your lunch or dinner fishing, the Ellis Beach bar and grill restaurant is a fabulous place to dine.


    Palm Trees at Ellis Beach in Tropical Far North Queensland
    Palm Trees at Ellis Beach in Tropical Far North Queensland


    Holloways Beach

    As it is only a 10-minute drive north of Cairns, Holloways Beach is one of the closest beaches to the city. This makes it one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland to visit when you first arrive in the region.

    This beach has a laid-back vibe which provides a welcome respite from the frenzy of the Cairns waterfront. It also is patrolled all year round and has a stinger net where you can go for a dip without the risk of stingers ruining your experience. The sand is also ideal for lazy sunbathing or gentle beachcombing.

    The sand is lined by a pleasant grassy esplanade that features several cafes, restaurants, and upscale holiday accommodation. Several seating areas along the esplanade make the perfect spot for people-watching.


    Yorkeys Knob

    Despite being just a 15-minute drive from the Cairns CBD, Yorkeys Knob remains a bit of a local’s secret. This could possibly be due to the fact it is nestled on the other side of a headland that juts out to the shimmering waters of the Coral Sea.

    While retaining a feeling of seclusion – which makes it one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland to sunbathe, unwind, and escape from the crowds – the beach is also home to the Yorkey’s Knob Boat Club. From its expansive deck, you can take in the spectacular sight of the million-dollar yachts that are moored towards Trinity Beach and Half Moon Bay, while you enjoy a coffee, beer or meal.

    Yorkey’s Knob is also a terrific spot for fishing, and there are several places in the mangroves, bay and beach where you can cast a line. However, if you are more into deep sea fishing, you’ll be able to hire a boat and venture off out of the bay. Moreover, for those who enjoy kiteboarding and windsurfing, you will also find plenty of opportunities to do that here.


    Sunset at Yorkeys Knob in Tropical North Queensland
    Sunset at Yorkeys Knob in Tropical North Queensland


    Machans Beach

    Machans Beach is the closest beach to Cairns Airport. So if you want to dip your toes into the sand immediately before or after a flight, this is one of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland to go to.

    Located only 10 km from the city centre, Machans Beach has a beautiful stretch of sand that is perfect for laying down a towel and soaking in the sun’s warmth.

    Unlike other beaches in the city, this area does not have large resorts or hotels; instead, it has holiday homes and privately owned rental apartments, which gives it more of a sense of community than other coastal parts of the region.

    Moreover, the esplanade here is a popular place for local activities and events such as sporting events, dance nights and various social functions – making it a great destination for people watching.


    Final Thought

    So there you have it, my list of the 15 best beaches in Tropical North Queensland. I hope you enjoyed reading the post!

    While there are no surf beaches in the area, and swimming opportunities are more limited, what sets a holiday in this region apart from places like the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast is the sheer beauty, sense of remoteness and pristine nature of these coastal areas.

    You’ll always have to look out for crocodiles and exercise common sense about going into the water if you go to any of them, particularly on your own. You’ll also need to make sure you slip, slop, slap, seek and slide to avoid getting sunburnt.

    However, if you want to relax and immerse yourself in the essence of Australia’s most picturesque shorelines, there is no better place to do that than in this part of the Sunshine State.



    Can you swim at the beaches in Tropical North Queensland

    The only time you can safely swim at any of the beaches in Tropical North Queensland is if it is patrolled by surf lifesavers and if there is a dedicated stinger net in place. If you find yourself at a beach where neither of these are in operation, DO NOT go in the water. Most of the beaches in the region are home to a resident crocodile population, particularly if they are near estuaries. Therefore, its just not worth the risk.


    What are some of the best beaches in Tropical North Queensland?

    The best beaches in Tropical North Queensland are very much a personal opinion based on what you are looking for. However, some of the most popular ones to visit include Trinity Beach, Palm Cove, Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas and Ellis Beach.


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