WELCOME TO THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE BEACHES
The Great Barrier Reef Drive takes you from the city to the jungle and along the way you will find numerous pristine beaches.
This page is your guide to most of the beaches, and we hope you will enjoy them.
Please be aware that most of these beaches are remote and abandoned, life guards, stinger nets and warnings are only present at some of the city beaches and in Port Douglas.Everywhere else you will have to make your own judgement to swim, and be aware that box jellyfish can be present in the waters from November till May.
Use the Map page to locate all the beaches.
Enjoy our ultimate guide to the Great Barrier Reef Drive beaches!
Beaches along the Great Barrier Reef Drive
The first tranquil and unspoilt hippie style beachside community on the way out of Cairns, not all that popular with tourists, although there are a few B&Bs here. Locals desribe themselves as "down to earth working class people" and have successfully protested against larger tourist developments. The southern end of Machans Beach meets the mighty Barron River.
Holloways Beach is the second beach out of Cairns and does not take long to get to, unfortunately it is only a few metres in width but it is a perfect spot to cool off, take the dog for a walk, sit and enjoy the sunsets, or throw out a fishing line. A very nice restaurant and cafe add to the attraction, and Holloways Beach has a stinger net during the jellyfish season.
Yorkeys Knob is a suburb and home to many Cairns residents but the waterfront has developed into a tourist location that is very convenient being only about 15 minutes drive from Cairns and not far from world-class golf courses. The mangrove creek at the south end of Yorkeys Knob Beach is great for fishing, few people venture this far down because the road ends a long way back along the beach. Yorkeys Knob is a very popular beach for water sports and even has a small amount of surf generated by the sand bar.
Trinity Beach is sheltered between two large headlands, and very popular with everyone in Cairns. This explains the good selection of take-away shops, restaurants and accommodation. The beach is lined with picnic tables and barbeques that are free to use, so it's perfect for family outings or meeting with friends while enjoying sunset drinks. Although Trinity Beach is mainly a residential area for the locals, the strip along the beachfront is filled with tourist accommodation, restaurants and cafes.
Kewarra Beach is located about 25 minutes north of Cairns CBD with not much tourism development. This beach is the south end of a very long beach that also includes Palm Cove and Clifton Beach. The bay is protected from the southeasterly swell by a rocky headland and this is a very good safe place to swim with young children. The beach also has picnic tables, play equipment, and public toilets, and of course a stinger net. Access this beach from the Cook Highway or via a dirt track from Trinity Beach.
Clifton Beach is a quiet, un-spoilt beach lined with coconut palms and no high-rise buildings, There is a swimming net and a great children's playground with barbeque facilities right on the beach, about a 25 minute drive from Cairns CBD. From here you can walk right through to Palm Cove Beach and its offerings of restaurants and day spas.
Palm Cove is a popular tourist destination with many resorts and spas.
It has a beautiful palm lined beach and looks out over Double Island.
Ellis Beach is a long quiet and undeveloped beach, separated by a rocky outcrop from bustling Palm Cove. This beach only has one cafe, one caravan park, and a life guard station so here you can really relax. Ellis Beach is long and thin, and just over 1 kilometre in length. The fishing is good at the south end of the beach, try your luck!
Once you leave Ellis Beach behind you the beaches along this World Heritage listed coast line don't even have names on them any more, but there's plenty, they're beautiful and deserted, and waiting for you to come and explore, use the maps page on satellite view to find them. Just remember to take care,there's no life guards here.
Just before the Rex Lookout stop lies Wangetti Beach. The above photo is taken from the Rex Lookout looking south. Acess to the beach is easy and there are never many people here.
The first beach after the Rex Lookout when you're driving north. A small beach side suburb with both residential houses and holiday homes for rent.
Four Mile Beach
From Flagstaff Hil llookout in Port Douglas you get an awesome view over Four Mile Beach. The north end of the beach has all facilities like cafes, lifeguards and stinger nets, but you can get away from the crowds by walking down to the south end of the beach.
Turn off in to this beach about halfway between Port Douglas and Mossman, and after the beach you can continue this road and end up on the north side of Mossman.
A beach side suburb just north of Mossman with a real old Queensland feel to it, the houses vary from modern to old beach shack style, lots of coconut palms here, a carvan park just across the street from the beach, and a golf course nearby as well.
A fairly new suburb development between Mossman and the Daintree river, and the last fuel stop before the river too. At the south end just next to the highway are some picnic tables and toilets, at the northern end is a caravan park / camping area.
Cape Kimberley Beach
The first beach on the north side of the Daintree river, a bit of a detour from the main road. A beautiful wild beach where you can walk for miles, and just across the water is Snapper Island. There is a camping area and a holiday home for rent here, the south end of the beach meets the Daintree river mouth.
Cow Bay Beach
A detour of a few kilometres takes you to Cow Bay Beach, the main beach for recreation for the settlement of Cow Bay. There is a toilet block here and you might meet some friendly locals who come here to walk their dogs or do some fishing. If you want deserted beaches to yourself this is not the one to go to.
The only beach along the Daintree coast with a cafe on it. Easy to find as it is one of the few Daintree beaches to have signs up, in front of the beach is a small island named Struck Rock and at the south end is Cooper Creek where you can book on a one hour cruise to spot some big crocodiles and other wildlife..
South Noah Beach
This beach is a bit trickier to find, no signage but simply keep an eye out for a space to park where you can see the ocean through the trees, a bit north of Thornton Beach. Miles and miles of deserted beach here until you get to the creek at the end, do not cross, crocs!
North Noah Beach
The National Park Campground is at this beach, you need to park on the roadside and walk through the camping area.
Miles of wide beach to enjoy, especially quiet in the wet season when the camping area is closed and there are no campers .
This beach is a couple of km. south of Cape Tribulation and easily found as the road almost hits the beach here.
Park you car and go for a walk, the beach goes for miles and is usually abandoned, as the name suggest there are quite a few coconut trees here.
This beach can get a bit busy (for Cape Trib standards) as it is the closest one to the major resorts in Cape Tribulation.
If you look to your left when you enter the beach you will see the famous cape, you can sit on the point of the cape for a nice view or take the trail through the forest just before the cape to reach Cape Tribulation Beach.
Cape Tribulation Beach
A very popular stop for the day tours that make the drive from Cairns and Port Douglas up to Cape Tribulation every day. In the middle of the day you may not be able to find a car park here and are better off finding other beaches, or plan to avoid the noon to mid afternoon. There is a viewing platform here too which gives a good view over the bay.
The northern most beach of the Great Barrier Reef Drive. There is a couple of kilometres of unsealed road to get here, no sign, just keep an eye out for a sharp bend in the road and a big strangler figtree on the right. If you miss it you will get to Emmagen Creek where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and then head back till you see the tree on the left.
WHAT WILL YOU SEE ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE?
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!
This drive takes you along the edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but make sure you hop on a boat from Port Douglas or Cape Tribulation too so you can immerse yourself in this amazing world of wild coloured coral and tropical fish.
THE DAINTREE RAIN FOREST!
While you can see some rain forest in various places along the drive you definitely have to cross the Daintree river to see the real ancient Daintree rain forest, do some of the National Park board walks, swim in the pristine creeks, or book a guided tour in Cape Tribulation to learn more about it.
You can see cassowaries in zoos around the world but meeting a cassowary in the wild is an experience not to be forgotten. This ancient flightless bird has been walking the planet ever since all continents were still joined together as one and dinosaurs roamed the earth. The cassowary is listed as endangered but has been making a good comeback, and there is a fair chance you will see one in the Daintree if you spend a few days there.
LOTS OF BEACHES!
If you love the beach then you will love the Great Barrier Reef Drive, there are dozens of stunning beaches to explore along the way, just in the Daintree there's ten of them already, and even in the busy season there is a good chance you will find one all to yourself.
LOTS OF OTHER STUFF!
What ever you can imagine, you will find it along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Exotic fruit wines, hang gliding, home made icecream, crocodiles, rainforest sculpture trail, tea, insect museum, cassowaries crossing the road, massage, jungle surfing, Aboriginal culture tours, helicopter rides, More info added soon on the multitude of attractions and sights to see.