The top things to do in Palm Cove

Wondering how to spend some time in Palm Cove? Discover experiences from reef tours to animal attractions to snorkelling. Find your activity now.

The top things to do in Palm Cove

Wondering how to spend some time in Palm Cove? Discover experiences from reef tours to animal attractions to snorkelling. Find your activity now.

Other things to do in Palm Cove

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Top 10 Things to do Palm Cove

Palm Cove is a relaxing getaway away from the hustle and bustle of some of Far North Queensland’s more popular tourist destinations, however, is still close enough to enjoy all of the best attractions and experiences the region has to offer.

With its location on the northern Queensland coastline boasting great weather and proximity to the tourist hub of Cairns, the stunning Great Barrier Reef and a short drive from the likes of the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and more, it’s not hard to see why.

Here, we break down our list of the Top 5 Things to do in Palm Cove and surrounds based on a combination of customer feedback, staff input and advice from locals and other people in-the-know.

1. Hot Air Balloon Rides

Location: 1 Spence St, Cairns, QLD

It’s a common sight to view the Great Barrier Reef with your head under the water, but one of the more underrated ways to take in the full vastness of its scale is, coincidentally, from high above instead.

A hot air balloon flight with operator Hot Air Cairns can provide you with a tranquil and stunning viewpoint that few other sightseeing opportunities can match.

The combination of clear morning skies and the slow, drifting serenity of a balloon flight allows ample time to grab panoramic photos and memories that are much harder to obtain doing anything else.

Hot air ballooning is an eerily peaceful experience; other than the volume of passenger/pilot’s voices and the occasional bursts of heat directed into the balloon, the silence creates one of the most mesmerising atmospheres to simply revel in the wonder of the Queensland landscape undisturbed.

Cairns makes for a special hot air ballooning destination due to the tapestry of colours that come with a location that straddles the best of both rainforest and reef.

Hot air balloning is an eerily peaceful experience. Other than the volume of the pilot's voice and the occasional bursts of heat into the balloon, the silence creates one of the most mesmerising atmospheres to simply revel in the wonders of the Queensland landscape.

The vivid greens and earthy colours of the Atherton Tablelands clash brilliantly with the vibrant blues of the surrounding ocean to form a spectacular view – particularly as the glow of the sunrise spreads out over the land below.

Kangaroos and other Aussie wildlife can also often be seen on the ground in this region, adding an extra Australian touch to the proceedings.

Options for balloon rides come in both 30 minute and 1-hour flights, which both include return transfers from Cairns accommodation, with your length of flight choice almost entirely coming down to budget.

Luxury options including deluxe transfers and breakfast packages are also available for those looking to indulge, and when coupled with the scenery on offer it makes for a highly popular package for celebrating special occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, or even marriage proposals.

The one obvious sacrifice that has to be made in order to enjoy such an experience is the early wake-up – expect to rise and shine at roughly 3-4am – but it’s a necessary evil to take advantage of the best time of day and witness the Cairns sunrise.

In short, hot air ballooning is one of life’s true must-do experiences – and there are few better venues in which to take the plunge and do so that Cairns and Tropical North QLD.

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2. Kuranda Koala Gardens

Location: 2-4 Rob Veivers Dr, Kuranda QLD

Get up close to one of Australia’s cutest and cuddliest animals, the koala, at the excellent Koala Gardens – another quality attraction within Kuranda.

Experience the warm embrace of these Australian icons – a must-do activity when you’re visiting Australia from overseas – in one of the few QLD locations you can do so.

You’ll see the koalas lazing around and relaxing in this natural habitat, sleeping or enjoying a feast of yummy eucalyptus leaves.

The young ones will love getting the chance to pat and even hold a koala and mum and dad will love the chance to capture that moment on camera.

Experience the warm embrace of these Australian icons – a must-do activity when you’re visiting Australia from overseas.

Despite the name, the Koala Gardens are home to a range of other Aussie animals that are just as cute, some even scary!

While visiting the gardens you’ll get an up-close look at some scary saltwater and freshwater crocodiles, some bouncing kangaroos and wallabies, some slithering snakes and lizards and even some slow-moving wombats.

With the wide range of animals to see and interact with the kids will be begging you to stay!

The Koala Gardens know how to impress and their resident animals love smiling for the camera. A trip to Kuranda isn’t complete without a visit to the Kuranda Koala Gardens to say hello to their wide range of native Australian animals.

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3. Palm Cove Beach

Location: Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD

One of Far North Queensland’s cleanest beaches, Palm Cove boasts community spirit and beauty. With a strong connection to nature, the beach has a range of flora and fauna fringing the beach for hundreds of years.

Here you’ll find over 500-year-old Melaleuca Trees shading almost the entire length of the beach.

These giant, ancient trees are protected by strict preservation rules. The buildings in the area have been built around the trees making them one of the most beautiful, natural attractions on the shore of the beach.

With a strong connection to nature, the beach has a range of flora and fauna fringing the beach for hundreds of years.

Beach-goers tend to love searching for pipis on the southern end of the beach. Pipis are tiny, shelled sea creatures, similar to mussels that can occupy the attention of young ones for hours. There is also a hiking trail along the rocks at the northern point of the cove.

The track winds between the rocks and eventually lead to a small, secluded beach surrounded by large boulders.

If you’re prepared for a challenging hike climbing over rocks and exploring the road less travelled, this is an ideal activity for you.

The beach also has a dog exercise area located on the northern end. This specially zoned area is an ideal place for those four-legged friends to run around with the restraint of a leash. Even if you don’t have a dog yourself you can enter the zone and interact with the happy pups.

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4. Fitzroy Island

Location: Fitzroy Island, QLD

Embark on a scenic trip to the tourist hub of Cairns, a short 30-minute drive from Palm Cove. Embark on a scenic trip to the tourist hub of Cairns, a short 30-minute drive from Palm Cove.

With a reputation as more of a place for locals than visitors, Fitzroy Island provides a solid all-around island destination with plenty of activities that are also quite accessible.

Fitzroy Island is a destination for the more discerning traveller, offering the likes of hiking, sea kayaking and a range of bars and cafes in addition to the standard snorkelling and lazing in the sunshine – although there are plenty of secluded places to do that here, too.

Fitzroy Island has a great variety of walking tracks to keep visitors occupied on land, with its main Summit Walk that takes you on a path through the forestry, leading up to the island’s lighthouse and providing a great outlook.

Fitzroy Island is perfect for travellers who like to be active on their holiday with hiking, sea kayaking, snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding, glass bottom boats and more on offer here.

After you’re done exploring, Fitzroy Island’s Foxy’s Bar makes for a great place to kick back with a drink and soak in stunning reef views, while the island’s recently-completed 5-star luxury resort provides an elite accommodation option for those looking for an extended stay.

This recent development on the island has made it a hugely popular spot for honeymoons and other special occasions, while those looking to ease the burden on the wallet have the option of booking a spot at Fitzroy Island’s camping ground.

Add to all this Fitzroy’s lovely Nudey Beach – the perfect spot for relaxation – and it’s a tempting package that makes the extra time and effort to get here well worth it.

While there’s no definitive answer to which out of Fitzroy Island Green Island is truly “better” as it depends on your main holiday purpose, Fitzroy gets the nod here simply due to its tendency to be less crowded and still reasonably close to Cairns.

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5. Hartley's Crocodile Adventure Park

Location: Captain Cook Hwy, Wangetti QLD

Take a tour out to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure Park to get up close (not too close) to some big, hungry crocodiles.

With one of the largest collection of crocodiles in captivity in Queensland, Hartley’s also has a lot more to get your skin crawling, heart pumping and mouths dropping.

The collection of crocodiles will send chills down spines and smiles on faces as you get a front-row seat to witness some of Australia’s most dangerous animals in action.

It’s not just all about the reptiles, Hartley’s Adventure Park also has a large collection of kangaroos, wallabies and koalas to satisfy your softer side.

The collection of crocodiles will send chills down spines and smiles on faces as you get a front-row seat to witness some of Australia’s most dangerous animals in action.

Throughout the day you’ll get to partake in a range of activities including the wetlands cruise, snake show, koala and cassowary feeding, the crocodile attack show and much more.

The kids will love learning all about the feeding habits of some Australia’s most iconic animals and how they behave in the wild!

The friendly staff at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures are full of knowledge and are more than happy to answer any questions you might have on the intriguing animals in the park.

A trip to the adventure park is one not to miss and a great way to get up close to some of Australia’s most dangerous animals!

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6. Cairns Aquarium

Spend the day exploring the rare and elusive critters of the world heritage Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef inside the Cairns Aquarium.

7. Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Soar high above the treetops for spectacular views of the world’s oldest rainforest on the 7.5km Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to the Kuranda village.

8. Great Barrier Reef Cruise

Discover the world-famous Great Barrier Reef on a day cruise to the activity platform where you can snorkel, dive or view the reef from a glass-bottom boat.

9. Cape Tribulation & Mossman Gorge Day Tour

See where the rainforest meets the sea on this full-day to Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge from Cairns and Palm Cove.

10. Paronella Park

Beautiful gardens, lush rainforest and a magical castle are what you can expect on a visit to the historic Paronella Park.
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