Tropical Destinations

Port Douglas Lookout

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These are my favourite Tropical destinations where I'll take you north to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, south to the Cassowary Coast and Mission Beach and west to the Atherton Tablelands and everywhere in between.

Port Douglas, Queensland

First on the list of tropical destinations is one place that has has locals and tourists alike clamouring to take a weekend break or extended vacation.

Approximately 70km north of Cairns, Port Douglas, Queensland is a great holiday destination.

With hot summers and warm winters, the beaches here are never closed and it's always a good time to be here. With such favorable climatic conditions, a great many things to do, and a large number of local attractions, it's no wonder that Port Douglas is one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations.

In the peak tourism months of May to September, the population of this town swells up to nearly twice its size!

Macrossan Street, Port Douglas

Mossman Gorge

Driving further along the Coral Coast Highway just past Port Douglas, is Mossman. Better known for the Mossman Gorge, this is one of Cairns' tropical destinations that many tourists may miss. It's such a beautiful, but rugged area with freezing waterholes that you can take a dip in.

But be careful, there's some areas that can be quite dangerous! The waters may appear calm and inviting, but underneath there's lots of eddy's that can suck you under.

Mossman Gorge have recently opened up a new eco indigenous centre which highlights the Kuku Yalanji Aborigine people and showcasing their art in various forms. It also gives you an insight into their traditions and way of life.

Daintree National Park

Once you've visited Mossman, just head north to Daintree National Park.

There's lots of tours that start off in Cairns and wind their way through one of the most scenic coastal routes of Australia which lead up to the World Heritage listed rainforest.

There's also many tours starting from Port Douglas if you've chosen to make that your base.

Daintree National Park is arguably, one of the world's finest tropical destinations with a rainforest that is breathtakingly beautiful.

First stop is the Daintree Ferry which only takes a few minutes, but quite an experience! It's the only crossing, so if you want to visit Cape Tribulation, you have to take the ferry as there's no bridge.

Daintree Ferry

Atherton Tablelands

Beyond the breathtaking highlands of Cairns lies another spectacular region that you must visit.

Spread over a massive area of 32000 km2, the Atherton Tablelands find its fertile roots in the now extinct volcanoes that were spread around the region.

Trust me when I say that you’ll want to spend more than a day exploring this vast, scenic area to truly appreciate all that it offers.

Spending a few days here will be busy as there really is lots to do.

Visit the many coffee plantations, waterfalls, hot springs and crater lakes.

It's a whole lot cooler on the tablelands but it still remains one of Cairns' locals favourite tropical destinations.

If you're coming from the north of Cairns, first stop will be Kuranda.

Coming from the south, drive up the spectacular, but sometimes scary Gillies Range, first town to hit is historic Herberton. Famous for their markets.

Ellinjaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands

Mission Beach, Queensland

In a land that is all beaches and coastline, you know there has to be something special about a place if its claim to fame is being a great beach destination.

Mission Beach, Queensland is exactly one such place that is located about 140km south of Cairns. Most people find that Mission Beach offers them a calming ambience unlike any that they’ve experienced – the tranquil, turquoise seas, the beauty of waterfalls, the green of the rainforests and all the wonderful wildlife, including the endangered Cassowary.

Part of the Cassowary Coast, Mission Beach is the jewel with it's 14km stretch of spectacular coastline.

There's no highrises or fighting for that perfect beach spot here. It's all perfect and so peaceful and quiet.

That is in fact only a small glimpse of what lovely little village is all about!

South Mission to Dunk Island. Compliments Paul Toogood

Scenic Stopovers

When you’re heading down to Mission Beach from Cairns, you should plan your route with a few stopovers en route so that you don’t miss out on some of the other great experiences that the region offers.

The first stop should be the Babinda Boulders in the Wooroonooran National Park.

You’ll find that the rainfall capital of the country, Babinda, is an idyllic setting between two mountains with mountain streams flowing perennially.

David and I stopped here on our way down to Mission Beach. The colorful drive from Babinda to the Boulders is about 5 km.

Colorful you ask?

Yes, the locals pride themselves in growing beautiful tropical gardens from their house right out to the roadway.

As you get to the Boulders, don't ignore the 40km signs as you come around the corner; the picnic area comes up very quickly as we (and others) found out!

When you arrive at the Boulders, there's are huge area set out with toilet facilities, children's playground, undercover gas BBQ facilities and huge grassy lawns to laze around while picnicing under a huge shady tree.

There's also a camping area if you want to spend a couple of days here.

A lovely swimming spot completes the picture, where you can enjoy a cool swim after a 650metre trek along a bitumen path to the Boulders.

There's signs all along the way warning of the dangers of swimming here as there has been a number of drownings. I can understand why, as the water rushes over those huge boulders into large rockpools. We were there after a long spell of dry weather, however I have seen them after a good rainfall and it fairly thunders over then!

Kids at Babinda Boulders

Next on your itinerary should be the majestic Josephine Falls that boast of some of the most beautiful low lying waterfalls in all of Queensland.

The setting of these falls is so picture perfect that many TV commercials have been shot here.

At Josephine Falls you’ll find not just the crystal clear waters to swim in, but also a great natural water slide that's formed over a large rock.

While this is a favorite local spot to have fun in, visitors are advised to listen to the locals as it can be a little dangerous for those who aren’t accustomed to the area.

The final stop on your way to the tranquility of the beach has to be Paronella Park. The park is one of those rare places where nature has managed to thrive abundantly under the guidance of man.

While the official guide of Paronella Park says that you should plan for at least 2 hours there, most people end up spending more time.

If you happen to find yourself at the park past sundown, you can enjoy their night tours and even stay overnight at their caravan and camping grounds.

There really are so many beautiful tropical destinations around our region, so I'll continue to add more and more as time goes on.

Swimming at Babinda Boulders

Cheap Car Hire in Cairns Australia

Get to these fantastic tropical destinations by finding the best hire car deals.

Click on any of the links below for some cheap car hire rental in Cairns.


Remember to be aware of animals crossing our roads, especially the endangered Cassowary. So please make a point of observing all the road signs and take care when driving.

If you're visiting here from overseas, click on the link to find some road rules to observe.

Speeding kills cassowaries

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