Mission Beach: Best Visitors Guide 2024 (UPDATED)

Cassowary Coast: Tropical North Queensland Holiday Destination


Mission Beach Visitors Guide


Table of Contents

Planning a visit to Mission Beach on the Cassowary Coast in Far North Queensland? Then you should find my article about visiting it quite helpful. To give you an idea of its structure, here is table of contents.

1. Introduction
2. Where is Mission Beach?
3. How to Get to Mission Beach
4. Best time to visit Mission Beach
5. What Facilities do they have at Mission Beach?
6. Things To Do At Mission Beach
7. Local Tours and Excursions
8. Mission Beach Accommodation
9. Mission Beach Restaurants
10. Final Thought
11. FAQs

Hopefully, after reading the article, you will be in mind to visit this fabulous Queensland beach paradise!

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Read Time: 11 Minutes



If you are planning a visit to the Great Barrier Reef or Cairns its worth stopping off at Mission Beach en route. Situated just a 2-hour drive south of the city, this glorious 14 km stretch of sun-kissed coastline is the perfect place to relax and unwind during your Tropical North Queensland holiday.

Radiating a slightly off the beaten track feel – at least from the perspective of tourists – this stunning palm-fringed beach is a terrific spot for swimming (in stinger nets) and sunbathing. Its full length is also ideal for romantic walks along the shoreline and beachcombing for shells and other treasures washed up by the Coral Sea.

While you might not see too many people here, there is a good chance you’ll share the beach with the odd cassowary – it is the Cassowary Coast after all!

Contrary to what you might think, its not all about the coastline at Mission Beach Qld. Away from the sand, you can trek to the top of Bicton Hill, raft your way along the Tully River and explore the Djiru National Park.

The area is also an excellent base to check out the famous waterfall circuit, which includes the likes of Zillie Falls, Ellinjaa, Mungalli and Milla Milla, all of which are easily accessed from the Bruce Highway.


Most Tropical North Queensland tourism experts generally agree that the autumn months of September to November is the best time to visit Mission Beach


Where is Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a coastal town on the Cassowary Coast in Far North Queensland, which runs from Cardwell to Cairns. It is adjacent to both the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest and bordered by the Coral Sea.

Technically, Mission Beach actually comprises four different towns that are dotted along its 14 km stretch of palm-tree lined sand. Notwithstanding, it is located roughly halfway in between Townsville to its south and Cairns to its north.

The beach sits on land traditionally owned by the Djiru Aboriginal people and got its modern name from the Hull River Mission.

This was an Aboriginal mission established in 1914 by the Queensland government at South Mission Beach to house the local indigenous population. Tragically a cyclone devastated the area in 1918, killing many and destroying the mission.


Distance from Mission Beach to Other Queensland Destinations

  • Cairns 139 km
  • Townsville 235 km
  • Cape Tribulation 277 km
  • Bowen 435 km
  • Mackay 620 km
  • Winton 813 km
  • Yeppoon 970 km
  • Gladstone 1060 km
  • Mt Isa 1119 km
  • Bundaberg 1239 km
  • Brisbane 1595 km
  • Surfer's Paradise 1663 km
  • How to Get to Mission Beach

    The town of Mission Beach on the Cassowary Coast is an easy destination to get to via various forms of transportation.

    If you are driving, you’ll most likely need to take the Bruce Highway route, with the closest cities to it being Townsville to the south and Cairns to the north. The area is well signposted, but you should use satellite navigation like Waze or Google Maps to make the journey smoother for you.

    For those travelling from overseas or interstate, your best bet is to fly into in Far North Queensland. You can do this at either Townsville or Cairns Airports. Both these airports receive regular daily flights from several destinations across Australia and a few from overseas. Generally, Cairns has more options than Townsville, so that might be a better bet for you. Here are the flight schedule details for there.

    Once at either airport, you will be able to rent a car from one of the many car rental companies that operate desks there. They include major brands like Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and Budget.

    Another way to get to Mission Beach Queensland is via bus. Both Premier and Greyhound run daily services (northbound and southbound). They will pick you up and drop you off at the bus terminal at Wongaling Beach by the Mission Beach Resort. Alternatively, if you are coming from Cairns, you could also take the Mission Link Shuttle – though it only runs from Monday to Friday.

    Unfortunately, there are no trains that will take you directly to Mission Beach. However, the Spirit of Queensland service that runs five times a week from Cairns to Brisbane does stop at Tully, which is about 22 km west of the coastal town. From there you can catch a taxi or the Greyhound Bus.


    Extended beach view of Mission Beach North Queensland Australia


    Best time to visit Mission Beach

    Most Tropical North Queensland tourism experts generally agree that the autumn months of September to November is the best time to visit Mission Beach.

    This consensus is based on several factors including the favourable nature of the Mission Beach weather, how busy the area is in terms of visitor numbers at this time and the overall costs of hotels and flights.

    Although the temperatures tend to be warmest in summer, as the region resides within the Wet Tropics, it receives much of its rainfall at this time. (Having said that, the site of a lightening storm breaking over the beach can be spectacular to watch). Usually these storms take place at night.

    If you love wildlife you may want to time your visit to Mission Beach Queensland for the spring months. During this period, it is breeding season for Cassowaries. Therefore, your chances of seeing these flightless birds is more likely.

    Around this time, you also have a good chance of seeing the Cairns Birdwing and Ulysses Butterfly on the beach. Both of these large butterfly species will mesmerise you with their colours.


    The 14 km stretch of golden sand and the shimmering waters of the Coral Sea that makes up Mission Beach are obviously the main drawcards to visitors


    What Facilities do they have at Mission Beach?

    At Mission Beach you will find a good range of facilities and amenities for tourists and locals to enjoy.

    Between April and November, the southern end of the beach is patrolled by the Mission Beach Surf Life Saving Club, but only on Sundays and public holidays. There is also a stinger net in place to protect swimmers from jellyfish.

    Additionally, the beach features public toilets, barbecue facilities and picnic tables – some of which are shaded. There is also parking available at the Visitor Centre and various other points along the beach.


    Distance from Mission Beach to other Australia destinations

  • Sydney 2309 km
  • Canberra 2404 km
  • Wollongong 2407 km
  • Darwin 2650 km
  • Melbourne 2712 km
  • Newcastle 2178 km
  • Geelong 2772 km
  • Adelaide 2857 km
  • Hobart 3495 km
  • Perth 5137 km
  • Things To Do At Mission Beach

    The 14 km stretch of golden sand and the shimmering waters of the Coral Sea that makes up Mission Beach are obviously the main drawcards to visitors and while you are there, you can partake in several activities to maximise your enjoyment of them.

    Due to its length, the beach is perfect for walking. Just make sure you have plenty of water with you and are fully protected from the sun. Pro Tip: if you find yourself having walked till your feet hurt too much, you can always catch an Uber back to your starting point!

    Swimming is a popular activity at the beach, and is safest at the surf lifesaving club, which is situated at Wongaling Beach, or in the patrolled lifeguard areas of South and North Mission Beach. From November to May, there is a jellyfish stinger net in place to provide swimmers with further protection.

    As the beach extends for as long as it does, you’ll have no problem finding a bit of space away from the crowds to sunbathe. When the sand has been smoothed by the gentle lapping of the Coral Sea it is also a good consistency for beach cricket or a game of touch footy.

    If you fancy taking to the water, Mission Beach Boat Hire offers a range of activities for tourists to do, including kayaking and boat hire.

    Moreover, for those who want to go fishing, Mission Beach is a hotbed for reef, bluewater and barra fishing, which takes place just offshore. You should be able to catch a wide range of species including Grunter, Flathead, Spanish Mackerel and Mangrove Jack.


    Fancy a holiday at Mission Beach Far North Queensland Australia?


    Local Tours and Excursions

    If you plan to stay a bit longer at Mission Beach there are several tours and attractions you can book to discover the region in more detail.

    Both Viator and Get Your Guide offer a number of day trips and excursions that might appeal to you.

    You can search through all the Mission Beach Tours offered by Viator here. They include the following:

  • Beach Skydive from up to 15,000 feet
  • Half day snorkel tour Great Barrier Reef
  • Visit to Dunk Island
  • Luxury Private Transfer To Cairns

    Here are some of the tours offered by Get Your Guide:

  • Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling Tour
  • Beaver Reef Snorkel Visit
  • Dunk Island Day Tour
  • Mission Beach Tandem Skydive

    Whichever of these tours you decide to book, it is worth making a reservation well in advance of your visit as they get booked out quickly, particularly during the peak season.


    If you are looking for places to eat at Mission Beach, you’ll be pleased to read that the dining options are as good here as they are in Cairns or Townsville.


    Mission Beach Accommodation

    When it comes to holiday accommodation, Mission Beach provides the visitor with plenty of choice. Overall, there is a wide selection of resorts and short-term rentals you can pick from, which provide easy access to the 14 km stretch of sand that makes up the beach.

    You can search through all of the available Mission Beach accommodation providers here.

    However, when considering your options, one of the most popular is Castaways Mission Beach. It contains 47 self-contained beachfront apartments and rooms that provide direct access to the sand. If you are feeling like spoiling yourself, you can even hire out a private beachside villa.

    Alternatively, if you prefer a bit more privacy, you can make a reservation at one of 18 rooms they have in a separate rainforest setting. Wherever you decide to book, there is a fantastic restaurant and bar onsite for you to enjoy.

    Another good place to stay at Mission Beach is the Misson Reef Resort. It is just a one-minute walk to the beach and offers 26 self-contained, one- and two- bedroom apartments and 14 motel-style rooms. The property has a hot tub and a lovely swimming pool.

    Not to be confused with the aforementioned is the Mission Beach Resort. It resides at Wongaling Beach, about a five minute walk from the main beach and offers comfortable accommodation with a swimming pool, family bistro and sports bar.

    For those after somewhere a bit more upscale to stay, The Elandra Resort should fit the bill. It presents 20 lavish designer boutique resort style rooms that each come with balconies that convey superb views of the Coral Sea. They also have an excellent restaurant and spa services here.


    Things To Do

  • Relax on Beaches
  • Go for Long Walks
  • Launch a vessel off the Clump Point boat ramp
  • Photograph the Scenery
  • Check out the Mission Beach Village
  • Tackle the Kennedy Walking Track
  • Explore Dunk Island (and in particular Bedarra Island)
  • Discover the Great Barrier Reef
  • Venture to the Hull River National Park
  • Experience the Rainforest
  • Try Adventure Sports
  • Visit the Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre
  • Mission Beach Restaurants

    If you are looking for places to eat at Mission Beach, you’ll be pleased to read that the dining options are as good here as they are in Cairns or Townsville. Catering to a wide range of tastes and budgets, there are several venues you can choose to enjoy a meal – many of which are on Porter Promenade.

    One of the most popular is the Mission Beach Tavern, which offers quintessential gastro-pub cuisine such as burgers, fish and chips, chicken parmigiana and steaks. It has a lovely feel and is a great place to mingle with locals. The portion size is very generous too.

    A few doors down from the tavern, The Pirate Den is a cool establishment that offers a good selection of meat and seafood dishes. If you enjoy the former you’ll love the various dishes they make out of their meat smoker. What is great about this place is that it also offers more unusual food items such as crocodile koftas and Egyptian koshari.

    Also on Porter Promenade, the Shanti Cafe is another terrific option. It is a simple, honest cafe that serves up a terrific selection of all your favourites, as well as some delicious Thai dishes and an awesome vegan burrito. The coffee is also very good here.

    Elsewhere, Joey’s Mission Beach is a good option on Donkin Lane, right next to the Coral Sea. Their toasted sandwiches are an excellent way to start your day and they serve up Campos Coffee which is my favourite!

    On the same street, The Garage Bar & Brewhouse serves an excellent selection of craft beers, as well as superb pizzas and share plates. It is also right beside the beach, which makes the perfect backdrop for an evening meal.


    Mission Beach North Queensland in Australia


    Final Thought

    You’ve got to love Mission Beach. Not only is it full of genuine locals who are only too happy to extend their hospitality, it also has a terrific laid-back ambience due to it being largely free from commercialism.

    Instead, its incredible natural beauty, as reflective of many other places on the Cassowary Coast Qld, will instantly seduce you – particularly if you have just come from Townsville or Cairns.

    While the many charms of Tropical Far North Queensland might await you further north, it’s worth lingering at Mission Beach for at least a couple of days to enjoy its lovely expanse of sand, notable attractions, and the much more relaxed pace of life that defines the area.



    How Far Is Mission Beach from Cairns?

    Mission Beach is situated around 139 km south of Cairns. It should take you about an hour and 45-minutes to drive between the two destinations along the Bruce Highway/A1.


    Is Mission Beach closer to Cairns or Townsville??

    Mission Beach is closer to Cairns than Townsville. Overall it would take you about an hour and 45-minutes to drive north to Cairns from Mission Beach. However, it will take you closer to three hours to drive south to Townsville.


    What is Mission Beach famous for?

    Mission Beach is perhaps best known for being one of the last remaining areas within the Far North Queensland coast where its tropical rainforest actually touches the shoreline. As well as being home to cassowaries, this rainforest also accommodates wallabies, parrots and beautiful butterflies.


    Can you swim at Mission Beach?

    While you can swim at the beach, you should always do this between the yellow and red surf-lifesaver flags. Probably the safety spots for you to swim are directly near the surf lifesaving club at Wongaling Beach and the stinger nets at South and North Mission Beach. All these areas are patrolled by surf lifesavers.


    What is the Netflix show filmed at Mission Beach?

    The 10 part mini-series Irreverent was filmed in part, in and around Mission Beach. The show stars Colin Donnell, P. J. Byrne and Kylie Bracknell.


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