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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.