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Tropical North Queensland

The far north of Queensland is full of stunning landscapes, beaches and coral reefs ready for you to explore. 

By James Vodicka

Tropical North Queensland is home to two of Australia’s World Heritage listed sites - the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropic Rainforest. I took a short trip and spent five days discovering the secluded beaches, lush rainforests, colourful reefs and spectacular scenic lookouts in the region. Here is a list of 9 places you can explore in North Tropic Queensland.

How to get there

Tropical North Queensland is located in Cairns, and the best way to get there is by plane. Cairns’ Domestic and International Airport is just seven kilometres away from the centre of the city. There are taxis, buses, coaches and rental cars available at the airport to help you get around the region.

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation, Queensland

Words cannot describe this incredible part of Tropical North Queensland. Cape Tribulation is a headland that lies within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Site and Daintree National Park. This is where the rainforests meet the ocean. To take advantage of the unique geography, you can participate in a lot of activities, including horse riding, bush walking, kayaking and snorkelling.

The Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation, Queensland

The Daintree and Wet Tropics region offers a Jurassic experience like none other on the planet with the world’s longest continuous remnant rainforest. This ancient rainforest is believed to be around 500 million years old, which is 10 times older than the Amazon in South America. There, you may even spot a southern cassowary or a saltwater crocodile - animals that both pre-date the dinosaurs.

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge, Queensland

I could have spent hours relaxing on the riverside of the stunning Mossman Gorge located in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. If you have time and an adventurous spirit, head down to a river that’s just a little away from the main tourist area and discover your own secluded swimming spot.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas, Queensland

Port Douglas is a popular tourist town on the Coral Sea, known for its beach resorts, boutique shops and restaurants. Only an hour’s drive north from Cairns, it makes the perfect base for trips to the Great Barrier Reef or Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Palm Cove

Palm Cove, Queensland

Like its name suggests, Palm Cove has hundreds of beautiful palm trees lining the beach. Palm Cove is also home to many pristine beaches and world-renowned hotels and resorts. With so many beautiful spots to choose from, finding the perfect spot to lay down a towel, set up a hammock, or capture a photograph, may be the toughest decision you’ll have to face in Palm Cove.

Double Island

Ellis Beach, Double Island, Queensland

Double Island is a little island located within the Great Barrier Reef and only 10 minutes away from Palm Cove by boat. On the island, you can enjoy the sights of dolphins swimming in the ocean over an island-style breakfast. Or, you can take a kayak from Palm Cove Watersports Centre to Double Island early in the morning to experience a perfect golden sunrise over the horizon. This is an experience you won't find in many guidebooks but is definitely up there with the best that Tropical North Queensland has to offer.

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, Cairns, Queensland

A trip to Cairns wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the iconic woven fish sculptures on Cairns Esplanade. You can grab something to eat at a cafe nearby or jump in for a dip in the always popular Esplanade Lagoon. The Lagoon is a beautiful 4800 square meter saltwater pool, that is open from 6am to 9pm with free entry.

Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island, Queensland

Fitzroy Island may be one of the most underrated islands in Australia with its stunning white beaches and fringing reefs swarmed with turtles. There’s also a 100-room oceanfront resort that offers a range of accommodation options, from family suites to camping areas. Only a forty-minute ferry ride from Cairns, Fitzroy Island is definitely worth a visit even if only for a day.

Fitzroy Island Reef

Fitzroy Island Reef, Fitzroy Island, Queensland

Clown-fish, vibrant coral and giant schools of fish were typical of what I saw every time I jumped into the water here. I always thought that swimming turtles would be a rare sight to spot, but not at this reef. With this much going on you wouldn’t really need to take a day trip to the outer reef if you were short on time. Fitzroy Island Reef is on the north-side of the island.

This article originally appeared on Townske.