17 Best Beaches Near Cairns to Visit in 2024

Must-visit Tropical North Queensland & Great Barrier Reef coastal hot spots


17 Best Beaches Near Cairns in Tropical North Queensland


Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Magnificent Beaches Near Cairns
2.1 Bramston Beach
2.2 Cape Tribulation
2.3 Clifton Beach
2.4 Cooya Beach
2.5 Cow Bay
2.6 Ellis Beach
2.7 Four Mile Beach
2.8 Holloways Beach
2.9 Kewarra Beach
2.10 Machans Beach
2.11 Newell Beach
2.12 Palm Cove
2.13 Thornton Beach
2.14 Trinity Beach
2.15 Wangetti Beach
2.16 Wonga Beach
2.17 Yorkeys Knob
3. Need somewhere to stay in Cairns?

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Read Time: 12 Minutes



Cairns is famous for its lush rainforests, stunning coral reefs and a relaxed coastal lifestyle.

Located in the tropical region of Far North Queensland, it is surrounded by some of the most pristine and idyllic beaches in Queensland. This makes it a perfect base for those seeking a relaxing beach getaway.

Incorporating everything from vibrant stretches of golden sand to mystical secluded coves, Cairns has something to offer every beach lover.

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, swim in sparkling turquoise waters, or partake in water sports, the beaches near Cairns have it all.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best beaches near Cairns that you won’t want to miss.

So keep on reading to discover the top beaches that Cairns holiday has to offer!


Magnificent Beaches Near Cairns

If you are wanting to hit the beach during your visit, there are several beaches near Cairns you can go to. Outlined below is a brief summary of some of the best of them:


Bramston Beach

Bramston Beach is a picturesque beach located approximately 80 km south of Cairns, in the Cassowary Coast region of Tropical Far North Queensland.

A truly stunning beach, it is known for its long stretch of golden sand, fringed by swaying palm trees and crystal-clear waters.

Compared to other beaches near Cairns, Bramston Beach is relatively secluded, making it the perfect spot for a peaceful day by the sea. It is also a popular destination for fishing, with plenty of opportunities to catch several different species.

Apart from the beach itself, visitors to Bramston Beach can enjoy several other activities in the surrounding area.

There are a number of walking trails nearby, including the popular Josephine Falls Circuit, which takes you through the lush rainforest and past stunning waterfalls.

Additionally, the nearby Babinda Boulders is another popular attraction. It features a series of natural rock pools and cascading waterfalls you’ll find enchanting.


Cape Tribulation in Far North Queensland is a lovely beach for a coastal walk in Australia


Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is a scenic headland located approximately 140 km north of the city of Cairns, in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest.

This stunning location is the furthest of all beaches near Cairns on this list and is known for its unspoiled beauty, rich biodiversity and pristine expanses of sand, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Located within the Daintree National Park – home to some of the world’s oldest rainforests and a remarkable array of plant and animal species – tourists to Cape Tribulation can explore the rainforest on guided tours, spotting rare birds, reptiles and marsupials along the way. The area is also known for its spectacular beaches, with miles of unspoiled coastline perfect for sunbathing.

In addition to its natural beauty, Cape Tribulation is also steeped in history, with several Aboriginal communities living in the area for thousands of years. Visitors can learn about the rich cultural heritage of the area through guided tours and cultural experiences.

Located approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Cairns, it is the perfect destination for a day trip or a longer getaway.


Clifton Beach

Clifton Beach is another of the popular beaches near Cairns you should visit. Situated about 20 km north of Cairns, in the suburb of the same name, this beautiful beach stretches for over a mile and is surrounded by lush vegetation.

It is known for its soft, golden sand and calm, clear waters and is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone who stays within the flags.

In addition to the beach, Clifton Beach has a variety of amenities and attractions to offer. There are several parks and picnic areas nearby, as well as a range of cafes, restaurants and shops. Visitors can also take a stroll along the beachfront boardwalk, which offers stunning views of the Coral Sea and the surrounding coastline.


Cooya Beach

Cooya Beach is a picturesque and secluded beach located about 20 kilometres north of Cairns. The beach is situated in an eponymous coastal village and is known for its quiet and serene atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for those seeking relaxation and tranquillity.

Providing wonderful views of the Coral Sea and the coastline, visitors will have to be on their toes here as crocodiles have been spotted in the area. That said, it is a good spot for boating, fishing and birdwatching, generally speaking.

In addition to its natural beauty, Cooya Beach has a rich cultural heritage. The local Indigenous community, the Kuku Yalanji, have lived in the area for thousands of years and offer guided tours to visitors to share their culture and history. These tours allow visitors to learn about traditional hunting and gathering practices, bush tucker and medicinal plants.

Unlike other beaches near Cairns, facilities are limited in the area. So, it is recommended that visitors bring their food and drinks with them.


Cooya Beach Far North Queensland


Cow Bay

Cow Bay is one of the smaller and secluded beaches near Cairns. Well, I say near, but it is more like a 2.5-hour drive from Cairns city. However, with the last part of it being on a scenic coastal road through the Daintree Rainforest, it is well worth making the effort to visit it.

The picturesque beach is known for its stunning natural beauty, verdant vegetation and shimmering waters. Surrounded by dense rainforest, it offers visitors one of the more peaceful beach experiences. It is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, with some species found nowhere else in the world.

Overall, Cow Bay is a unique and picturesque destination that offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in nature and experience the beauty of the Daintree Rainforest. If you are able to get there it is well worth it.


Ellis Beach

Ellis Beach is a picturesque beach located about 25 km north of Cairns. It is a popular destination thanks to its pristine golden sands and tranquil atmosphere.

The beach is surrounded by lush green vegetation and offers stunning views of the Coral Sea. It is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing with a book or picnic. The beach is also patrolled by lifeguards, making it a safe place to swim.

Apart from sunbathing and swimming, there are plenty of activities that visitors can enjoy at Ellis Beach. The area is renowned for its fishing, with the waters teeming with a variety of fish species. Visitors can also indulge in water activities with canoes, SUP and kayak equipment readily available for hire.

Ellis Beach is conveniently located, with easy access from Cairns via a scenic coastal drive that takes approximately 30 minutes. Tourists can take public transportation to get there and there are plenty of accommodation options in the area.


Four Mile Beach

Of all the beaches near Cairns to visit, Four Mile Beach is up there with the best of them.

A beautiful, palm-lined beach located in Port Douglas, it resides about 70 km north of Cairns. The beach stretches for about four miles, offering visitors ample space to relax and unwind in a tropical paradise. It is much loved for its palm trees and long stretch of sand which is perfect for walking on. There is also a stinger net which enables you to safely swim in the water all year round. If you don’t fancy swimming you can enjoy a range of water sports, such as kite surfing, parasailing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

Four Mile Beach is easily accessible by car from Cairns, with the drive taking about an one hour to complete. Port Douglas, is a quaint seaside town with many restaurants, cafes and boutique shops, is located nearby and offers plenty of accommodation options for those looking to stay overnight. It is also a popular starting point for tours to the Great Barrier Reef.


Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas


Holloways Beach

Those wanting a peaceful and charming destination for a laid-back Queensland beach holiday should head to Holloways Beach.

Located just 12 km north of the CBD, it is one of the closest beaches near Cairns on this list. Known for its vast expanse of sand, it is the perfect beach to take a break from the pace of the city. Offering plenty of room to sunbathe as well as walk or dip your toes in the water.

The town itself is a mix of old and new, with traditional beach shacks alongside modern apartments and houses. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars in the area, offering visitors a varied range of dining and drinking options.


Kewarra Beach

Another of the best beaches near Cairns to visit is Kewarra Beach.

Located some 20 km north of Cairns, this stunning palm-fringed beach is a beautiful and secluded locals-mainly beach. Those who do go there get to enjoy a relaxing tropical paradise with alluring turquoise waters, golden sand and few other people.

The area surrounding Kewarra Beach is home to expensive private homes, many resorts and luxury accommodations. Should you want to stay at any of them, they make an ideal destination for those looking for a peaceful and luxurious getaway.

There is a nice, partly shaded-boardwalk that lets you walk right past some of the best of them.


Machans Beach

If you only have time to visit the closest beaches near Cairns then Machans Beach is a very good choice as it is only a 10-minute drive from the city.

A quaint and charming destination, what I like most about this beach is that it offers visitors a taste of traditional Australian beach culture you can’t really find elsewhere in this part of Far North Queensland.

The beach itself is a long stretch of sand that is perfect for sunbathing and strolling along its shoreline. The waters are generally calm and is known for being a terrific place to fish.

There are a few nice cafes fitted around the area as well as parkland and playgrounds, so it is a lovely place for families to come and enjoy some quality time together.

One of the nicest aspects of this town is that it is home to several traditional Queenslanders, which gives visitors a glimpse into the past and a taste of Australia’s rich history.

The area is also home to many bird species, including the iconic Australian pelican, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers.


Palm Trees at Ellis Beach in Tropical Far North Queensland


Newell Beach

Newell Beach is another of the picturesque and secluded beaches near Cairns to visit when you want a bit of rest and relaxation.

Situated about a 25 km drive from the Cairns CBD, it is an idyllic destination, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and stunning mountain views, which gives visitors a true taste of the tropics.

Despite its proximity to Cairns, it seldom gets too busy at Newell Beach. So you will be able to paddle in the water, sunbathe and relax within having to worry about being disturbed.

For those who want to stay in the area, there are a handful of luxury resorts and private villas available in the area.


Palm Cove

Palm Cove is hands down my favourite of all the beaches near Cairns you can visit. Even though it takes me two days to drive there from the Sunshine Coast I try and go there at least once every year.

The upscale beachside town is about a 25 minute drive from Cairns. It is notable for its golden sand, idyllic palm trees and stoic nature and is the kind of beach you can stay all day at without a care in the world.

One of my favourite things to do on this beach is walk. It has a long stretch of sand that extends for far in the distance, making it an excellent Instagram photo opportunity. Additionally, it features a stinger net for those who want to swim, a pier for fishing and rental facilities for watercraft like kayaks and canoes.

The town itself is home to many boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, offering a range of dining options and souvenirs to take home. My favourite restaurant – Nu Nu’s – offers superb beachfront dining with views of the palm trees.

For those wanting to stay at Palm Cove, there are several accommodations in the area, ranging from luxury resorts to self-contained apartments. They make an ideal destination for those looking for a luxurious and relaxing Queensland Beach holiday.


Thornton Beach

Thornton Beach is a beautiful, remote beach located in the Daintree Rainforest, about an hour north of the city of Cairns.

The beach is known for its immaculate white sands, azure waters and stunning views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest.

One of the unique features of Thornton Beach is that it is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Subsequently, it is home to several exotic varieties of flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species.

Visitors to the beach may have the chance to spot wildlife such as cassowaries, tree kangaroos and a variety of bird species. In addition to its natural beauty, Thornton Beach is also a popular spot for swimming, picnicking and sunbathing.

The beach is patrolled by lifeguards during the peak season and there are also a number of amenities available, including barbecue facilities, picnic tables and toilets.


View of the palm trees at Trinity Beach Far North Queensland


Trinity Beach

Anyone looking to experience the beauty of Tropical North Queensland’s coastline should head to Trinity Beach.

Situated about 20 minutes’ drive north of the city centre, it is one of the nicest beaches near Cairns you can visit.

One of its standout features is its long stretch of golden sand, which is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and relaxing. The beach is also surrounded by palm trees and lush tropical vegetation, creating a picturesque and peaceful atmosphere.

In addition to its natural beauty, Trinity Beach also offers a range of amenities and activities for visitors to enjoy. There are several restaurants, cafes and bars located along the beachfront, as well as a range of shops and boutiques.

For those who want to get active, there are also a number of water sports available at including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and snorkelling. Furthermore, the beach is also a popular spot with locals for fishing and beach volleyball.


Wangetti Beach

Nestled between two headlands and offering stunning views of the Coral Sea and the surrounding rainforest, Wangetti Beach enjoys one of the more picturesque settings of all the beaches near Cairns.

What makes this beach so appealing is that it is largely untouched by commercial development, making it a picturesque and secluded spot for visitors to enjoy. Despite its remote location, there are still a number of amenities available at Wangetti Beach, including a picnic area and public toilets. Visitors can also enjoy strolling along the shoreline and sunbathing in serenity.

In addition to its natural beauty, Wangetti Beach is also steeped in history and culture. The beach was traditionally used as a gathering place by the local Indigenous Yirrganydji people and visitors can learn about the area’s rich Aboriginal heritage through guided tours and cultural experiences.


Wonga Beach

Nestled on the eastern coast of the Cape York Peninsula, between the Daintree River and the town of Mossman, you’ll find Wonga Beach.

Once you have visited some of the beaches near Cairns it is worth coming to this spot 80 km north of the CBD to take in its wonderful coastal views. The sand is perfect for sunbathing and the shimmering waters should be fine for a dip in the shallow.

Another of the beaches near Cairns which is undeveloped, this is a terrific place to come for a digital detox. Though it is worth bringing your iPhone or Android with you as there are lots of Insta-worthy snaps to be had.

For those who want to explore the area further, there are a number of hiking trails and scenic drives in the surrounding rainforest and hills. The nearby Daintree River also offers a range of opportunities for river cruises and wildlife viewing.

In addition to its natural beauty, Wonga Beach is also a great place for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. The shoreline is home to a number of bird species, including the majestic osprey, as well as a range of other wildlife, such as monitor lizards and wallabies.


Sand at Wangetti Beach in Far North Queensland


Yorkeys Knob

The last destination on this list of the best beaches near Cairns is the saucily named Yorkeys Knob.

Popular for its long sandy beach, relaxed atmosphere and beautiful scenery, this charming coastal suburb is just a 15-minute drive north of the city.

You will likely see beach volleyball and frisbee played at any time on the beach. The beach is also a hotspot for kite surfing and windsurfing, thanks to its consistent winds.

Many people also come here to fish or participate in organised activities like kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Yorkeys Knob also has a small shopping centre with an excellent range of shops, restaurants, cafes and a golf course and yacht club. The suburb even hosts several events and festivals yearly, including the Yorkeys Knob Boating Club Annual Regatta and the Yorkeys Knob Community Market.


Need somewhere to stay in Cairns?

Has this post about beaches near Cairns inspired you to book a Queensland Family Holiday?

Then check out our list of 12 Luxury Hotels in Cairns near the city centre to give you some ideas about accommodation options.

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