Cairns Beaches

Cairns, Far North Queensland, is renowned for it’s proximity to World Heritage Listed rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, and exotic wildlife that exists in few other places in the world. It’s also renowned for its beautiful palm tree lined beaches caressed by warm tropical waters. The city of Cairns lives for its northern beaches. They provide a huge amount of the city’s tourism, with holiday accommodation to suit absolutely every budget and desire.  The northern beaches of Cairns stretch for 26km along the beautiful coastline. They begin just north of the city beyond the Barron River Bridge with Machans Beach, followed by Holloways Beach, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach, Clifton Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach.  Some of these sandy treats are primarily residential, and some are reserved almost exclusively for visitors to Far North Queensland. All are wonderful and showcase the tropical environment.  For visitors staying at one of Cairns’ northern beaches, there are facilities to meet all your needs. A large shopping center is located at Smithfield, which is central to all the beaches. The choice of restaurants is extensive.  Start planning your vacation to Cairns Australia… << Click Here >> for our Visit Cairns Australia guide.  Here are the best of Cairns Beaches:

Machans Beach

Machans Beach is the closest beach to Cairns city, being only 10 minutes drive from the CBD. It is a laid-back residential suburb, and unfortunately the beach was prone to severe erosion many years ago so a large rock wall was erected to prevent the beachfront houses from falling into the ocean. However, there is a large stretch of beach at the far southern end of the bay that is wonderful for afternoon strolls or games or football and cricket. The sand slopes onto the ocean and such a slight angle that at low tide the beach becomes wider than it is long.  If you are interested in swimming, try the next beach in the chain of northern beaches, Holloways Beach.

Machans Beach, Cairns Australia

Machans Beach

Holloways Beach

Another of Cairns’s residential beaches, Holloways Beach is growing in stature with the establishment of a resort on the waterfront. The actual beach is narrow and is unfortunately facing the same erosion dilemma that Machans Beach confronted many years ago. At this time, Holloways Beach residents and the local council are devising ways to prevent the sand from slipping into the sea, and consequently save the houses from slipping onto the beach.   Holloways beach is narrow – only a couple of meters in width – but is a lovely spot to cool off, take the dog for a walk, sit and enjoy the fresh air, or cast out a fishing line. A very nice restaurant and café make Holloways a pleasant beach in all circumstances.  Note: This beach has a stinger net during the stinger season. When the stinger net is in place, please only swim inside its protective barriers. Swimming outside the nets exposes you to unnecessary dangers.

Holloways Beach, Cairns Australia

Holloways Beach

Yorkeys Knob

Separated from Holloways Beach by a narrow channel and a large sand bar, Yorkeys Knob is much larger and surf-prone than it’s southerly counterparts. Of course, the surf here can’t get much higher than half a meter, but that’s pretty good for this part of the world.   Yorkeys is home to many Cairns residents but the waterfront is now developing into a tourist location that is the most convenient of all the Cairns beaches. Yorkeys is only 15 minutes drive from Cairns, 5 minutes from Skyrail and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, and a short stroll to world-class golf courses.   The estuarine creek at the southern end of the beach is great for fishing, and the adventurous can walk out to sea for dozens of metres along the sand bar at low tide. There are very few people at this section of beach because the road ends many hundreds of meters back along the beach.  Yorkeys Knob is a very popular beach for water sports such as jet skiing, wind surfing and kite surfing. This is due to the southeasterly winds hitting the beach on a sharp angle that is just right for launching wind toys. The small amount of surf generated by the sand bar also provides jumps and a thrilling ride.

Yorkeys Knob, Cairns Australia

Yorkeys Knob

Trinity Beach

Trinity Beach is the place to be. This banana-shaped beach is sheltered between two large headlands, so all you can see from your beach towel as you soak up the rays is the blue water of the Pacific Ocean. Trinity Beach is very popular with everyone in Cairns and therefore has a huge selection of take-away shops, restaurants, small shopping centers, and accommodation types.  The beach is lined with picnic tables and BBQs that are free to use. The swaying palm trees and aroma of hot fish and chips make Trinity Beach a marvelous place for a family outing or an afternoon get-together with friends.  While Trinity Beach is a residential beach, the road along the beachfront is entirely dedicated to tourist resorts, restaurants and cafes.  Note: This beach has a stinger net during the stinger season. When the stinger net is in place, please only swim inside its protective barriers. Swimming outside the nets exposes you to unnecessary dangers.

Trinity Beach, Cairns Australia

Trinity Beach

Clifton Beach

Clifton Beach is very similar to Kewarra Beach, because it remains largely untouched by tourist development and is retains a very laid-back atmosphere that is a delight to find. Clifton is favored by many locals who enjoy sipping on a glass of wine while relaxing on beach chairs under the swaying trees that make up the backdrop to the beach.  The beach itself is clean and deep, entertains a moderate swell from the southeasterly trade winds, and is home to a large pippy population. In case you’re wondering what on earth a pippy is, these are small muscle-like creatures that bury themselves in the sand but continuously get dredged back to the surface as waves climb up the foreshore. They are very entertaining to watch, and make great fishing bait if you have nothing else to use.  Note: This beach has a stinger net during the stinger season. When the stinger net is in place, please only swim inside its protective barriers. Swimming outside the nets exposes you to unnecessary dangers.

Clifton Beach, Cairns Australia

Clifton Beach

Palm Cove

Look out Venice Beach! Beware Californian Long Beach! Palm Cove, in North Queensland, is here to steal your crown as the number one tourist beach in the world. Palm Cove is only 20 minutes from Cairns city, and has developed into a prime location for holidaymakers, on any budget.  The beach is arguably the most pristine of all Cairns’ Northern Beaches, and it offers picnic tables and free BBQs along its entire length. At the northern end of the beach is a long jetty, described as the most expensive fishing platform in the world by local politicians.  Behind the fringe of palm trees lies Palm Cove Accommodation. From backpackers accommodation to 5-star resorts and fine-dining restaurants, Palm Cove has it all. This versatile beach can be used for the most relaxing holiday experience you can find, and can also serve as an exciting venue for water sports and other activities the far north has to offer.  And yes, it’s great for in-line skating along the foreshore too!  Note: This beach has a stinger net during the stinger season. When the stinger net is in place, please only swim inside its protective barriers. Swimming outside the nets exposes you to unnecessary dangers.

Palm Cove, Cairns Australia

Palm Cove

Ellis Beach

Ellis Beach is located on the northern side of a rocky outcrop that separates it from the bustling Palm Cove. This beach has all the beauty and charm that Palm Cove offers, but it is totally undeveloped and far fewer people visit it. The local Cairns bus line does not drive to Ellis, which partially accounts for the low number of visitors to the beach.  Ellis Beach is long and thin, stretching for just over 1 kilometer. There is very little swell or surf here because of the rocky outcrop at the southern end and the large Double Island that blocks the sea. At the southern end of the beach the fishing is excellent, and at all other places the sunbathing is great.  Please be careful when swimming here because not many people are around and if you get into trouble you may be on your own to sort yourself out.

Ellis Beach, Cairns Australia

Ellis Beach

Visit Trinity Beach

26 Comments

  1. Anna

    These beaches look like a paradise to me. I wish I lived closer to Australia to enjoy those beautiful views and get my bones warmed with the sun and ocean!
    I love kitesurfing and it is wonderful that you included a beach, that covers extreme sports. Yorkeys Knob is definitely my next stop when I will be able to travel again with my kite!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I have not tried kitesurfing…yet. It looks so sun and I do want to try. Do you need to have good balance for it. Will it be easy if you can surf? Hard if you can’t? LOL Thanks for visiting Cairns Beaches. Yorkeys Knob is a great choice!

      Reply
  2. Melissa

    These are some very nice beaches indeed. It is too bad that a couple of them are eroding away like they are. Glad to hear they have put barriers up on one and thinking of way to handle the other.
    I have never heard of sting nets before, but it makes sense. For me personally even though I would have a little bit of a walk I think my favorite would be Yorkys Knob. A small amount of seclusion.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      So glad you enjoyed reading about Cairns beaches. I agree with Yorkys Knob, and I don’t mind the walk either. You are in paradise with the ocean close by, sand beneath your feet, and the sun shining down. What could be better?

      Reply
  3. glenford r

    These beaches look amazing, I love looking out for great places to go on holiday and this article really does make me want to go to the city of Cairns. Palm cove looks great with all the barbecues along it, which is what i would like. Looks like I’ll be checking prices for travel.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Glad you enjoyed reading about Cairns Beaches. You know there is just not a bad beach in Australia. You will love it, and yes the prices are very reasonable.

      Reply
  4. AMANDA

    The wind surfing is what caught my attention! It makes me want to travel to Australia, actually I would like to travel anywhere! But as of yet I’ve not made it further then Canada.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh boy, you do need to venture out. Canada is a huge and beautiful country, but there is so much out there to flavor. Australia has so many amazing beaches, great weather, and reasonable hotel and airfare rates. Thanks for visiting Cairns beaches, and I hope you can get there soon!

      Reply
  5. Kasey

    Those beaches are just beautiful! I wish I could travel the world and visit places like this. I have had Australia on my bucket list. Time to start planning. Thanks for all the great information!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You can’t beat the beaches of Australia, no matter where you go. Cairns beaches are wonderful and you won’t be disappointed. If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

      Reply
  6. Linda

    All I can say Is Wow, but of course, I have plenty more to say. On the first view, I am Amazed by the beautiful beaches of the earth. All sorts of oohs wows and Ahhh’s poured out of my mouth as I feasted on the spectacular scenery that you so considerately shared. I would have never thought about such informative topics on the best beaches to visit and you are so thorough, I’m impressed!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Linda and I am glad you enjoyed reading 🙂 I try to put you there on the beach at that moment. Nothing better and Cairns beaches are beautiful!

      Reply
  7. Mark

    Wow!! What beautiful beaches on offer around Cairns. All the beaches look fantastic but as you have suggested Palm Cove just looks stunning.
    We are planning to visit Australia in the next couple of years and after reading this article, Carins will definitely be on the agenda.
    Thank you for your great advice.

    Mark.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      HI Mark, Glad you enjoyed reading about Cairns Beaches. Yes, I don’t think there is one beach that isn’t amazing in it’s own way. Just depends on what you are looking for. When you are ready to head to Cairns, drop me a message, and I would be glad to help you plan your trip.

      Reply
  8. Kym

    Your website and beach holidays hits the spot for me! Growing up in Brisbane, Queensland, I love going to the beach, however Cairns has eluded me so far. It is definitely on my to do list for a beach holiday. Your description of Trinity Beach has me convinced. I can almost smell the ocean and food aroma from here! As my husband doesn’t like humidity, would it be better to visit Cairns in the Aussie winter months?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      For Australia, summer is in the winter months and it will be hotter but also less humid making it seem not quite so hot, in my personal opinion anyway. Glad you enjoyed reading!

      Reply
  9. lifebeginswithyourhealth

    Beautiful article about the beaches in Australia, I did not recognize it was Australia. I am not familiar with the name cairns, the photographs are so beautiful I never knew Australia was such a beautiful place until reading your article.

    I would love one day to be able to travel to the beach, I live in Pennsylvania in the USA. No beaches near me here, I do hope to explore the beaches of the world one day.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You will have to do it. They are beautiful, but you do have beautiful beaches not too far from you 🙂

      Reply
  10. Brenna

    This is such a good article!! I had no idea there were so many beaches in Caims and that it was so beautiful. I think you just planned my next trip for my family!! Oh my goodness, it looks so beautiful. Thanks especially for the stinger net suggestion… I definitely would not want to find myself in a situation where I was outside one of those nets! Thanks so much…

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Brenna!

      Reply
  11. Farhan

    Wow, you really know your beaches very well. Most of these places you have mentioned are never advertised as popular travel destinations, at least not where I come from. Looking at how close they are to the city area, I’m sure many would love to visit them.

    Occasionally, I love to spend time at the beach and your review of Clifton beach grabs my attention the most. I like a laid-back atmosphere, to enjoy a smoothie under the sun. Do you think there’ll be many people there towards the end of the year?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, that is their warmer season and they will get a lot of visitors at that time of the year. I think you’ll find though, that the beaches are not particularly that crowded compared to busy beaches like Miami Beach for example.

      Reply
  12. timothy

    Hi, I really like your site. I will definitely bookmark the site as I like to use small business rather than large corporations. I like how you integrated amazon with reviews as reviews are really important.

    I’m thinking about picking up the Oakley sunglasses as I am in desperate need.
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    Thanks again

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Timothy. Let me know if I can answer any questions!

      Reply
  13. Lindsey

    I think you convinced me! This is definitely on my list of go-to destinations now! There’s so much to do, what a perfect vacation spot. Not only that, but your article was really informative and helpful, even the ads on your page are only going to help me get where I’m going!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great! I am glad I can help. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Reply

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