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The Best Palm Cove Day Trips

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Palm Cove, the exquisite beachfront village on the Tropical North Queensland coast is a favourite holiday destination for many. Sunshine, sand, and a luxurious location – and one that you’ll never want to leave.

While there is so much to see and do in Palm Cove, you happen to be right at the doorstep of some of the most unique places you can see in Australia.

Palm Cove’s location, approximately halfway between Port Douglas and Cairns, means that you’re conveniently within a stone’s throw of some of the most incredible experiences and day trip opportunities you can have in Australia. Head any direction, and you’re in for the experience of a lifetime.

If you’re planning on holidaying in Palm Cove, keep reading to discover some of our favourite day trips you can take.

Road trip to Cape Tribulation

Chances are that you’ve heard of the Daintree rainforest. And you’ve probably also heard of the Great Barrier Reef. Well, what if we told you that you can steal glimpses of both incredible sights on your way to where the rainforest meets the Reef?

You can take the incredibly scenic Captain Cook Highway, also known as the Great Barrier Reef Drive, where you will quite literally have two of the most unique World Heritage Listed sites, on either side of you.

The distance from Palm Cove to Cape Tribulation is actually quite short, only around 115km, but the journey will have you captivated and will tempt you with many sights to stop at along the way.

Mossman Gorge, just a little bit past Port Douglas is one tempting location to stop at. You can begin your rainforest journey with an interactive ecotourism experience at the Mossman Gorge Centre, where you can take self-guided walking tours into this incredible rainforest region.

Along your journey on the Great Barrier Reef Drive, you will cross over the Daintree River via a ferry. This is the gateway to the Daintree, and once you’re over the river, you will be in awe as you drive through the emerald tunnels created by the forests canopy overhead.

Another great place to stop along the way is at the Daintree Discovery Centre. You can learn more about the complex eco system and the unique plants and animal species that inhabit the Daintree, as well as experience the rainforest skywalk from here.

For the last leg of the journey, you can beach hop along the highway until you reach your final destination – the place where the rainforest tumbles onto the beach shore and into the Great Barrier Reef – Cape Tribulation.

Stretch your legs on the sands of the Cape Tribulation Beach and marvel in awe at this almost untouched part of Australia. It’s hard to believe that it’s only about two hours away from Palm Cove.

Escape to a tropical island

We’ve all fantasised about retreating to a tropical island. And when you’re in Palm Cove, that’s something you can certainly make a reality – even just for a day.

Located only 30kms southeast from Cairns is one of the most stunning tropical islands you can visit in Australia – Fitzroy Island. The Cairns marina is the main gateway to Fitzroy Island and it’s where you can take the 45-minute ferry journey to the Welcome Bay of the Island.

Once you’re on Fitzroy Island, you’ll feel as if you’re miles away from the rest of the world as you’re surrounded by the gentle waters of the Great Barrier Reef all around.

Fitzroy Island was made to be explored – you can hike the many walking trails where you can enjoy vistas of the water below, you can immerse yourself in that water and see the coral gardens and marine life of the Great Barrier Reef, or you can relax on the beach that was crowned the best in Australia in 2018 – Nudey Beach.

You can also try your hand at lots of different water sports, like snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding and sea kayaking. You can hire equipment for these at the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub. And at the end of your long day adventuring, you can enjoy the afternoon sun with a cocktail in hand overlooking the waters of Welcome Bay from the island’s bar and café.

Find out more about day tripping to Fitzroy Island here.

Discover the Great Barrier Reef

With the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef so close to Palm Cove, a day exploring this unique attraction is a must.

Whether you want to get up close and truly immerse yourself in the waters of the Reef, or you would prefer to stay dry, there are so many unique ways you can spend the day experiencing the Great Barrier Reef.

Some of our favourite ways to experience the Reef include:

  • Snorkelling – one of the easiest ways to see the Reef up close is by snorkelling the waters of the Coral Sea. There are a lot of different tours available to discover the Reef, many of which depart from nearby Cairns and Port Douglas. Many tour options include presentations about the unique eco system of the Reef as well as guided snorkel tours and lunch. Some of our favourites include the Passions of Paradise tour and ABC Snorkel Charters.
  • Diving and Snorkelling – If scuba diving is something you’ve always wanted to try, then what better place to give it a go than the Great Barrier Reef. Poseidon offers outer Reef tours where you will set sail on a 24m catamaran to three different reef sites. At these sites you will have the chance to snorkel, scuba dive and even swim with dwarf minke whales (at the right time of year).
  • Sand Cay Hopping – You can find yourself on a sliver of sand in the middle of the Coral Sea with a Sailaway tour that takes you to the Mackay Coral Cay in the outer Reef. Aimed at those who are ready for big adventure, this tour will set sail out to the coral cays that Sailaway has exclusive access to. From the cays you will be able to literally step into and explore the waters that surround you at your own pace. As the area is protected and shallow, you can see not only the coral gardens but even the fish, giant clams and sometimes, even the turtles that call the area home.
  • Fishing – You can get up close to the Reef without getting wet – well, not too wet – by heading out with the Cairns Reef Fishing Charters team for a day of fishing. Departing from Cairns Marina, you’ll be able to head out into the open waters with an experienced crew who is there to help you wrangle your big fish. If you’ve never tried fishing before, don’t let that put you off, this tour has been designed for all skills levels.
  • Helicopter – Now, this activity isn’t going to take the whole day, but when we’re talking about discovering the Great Barrier Reef, we couldn’t possibly leave this one out. You can marvel at the magnitude of the Great Barrier Reef from above aboard a helicopter. Watch the sunshine playfully bounce off the turquoise waters and coral gardens of the Reef while you soar above in a state-of-the-art helicopter. GBR Helicopters offers scenic helicopter tours that depart from Port Douglas – only a short drive from Palm Cove.

Wildlife encounters

With two of the world’s most unique natural World Heritage Listed sites calling Tropical North Queensland home, it’s no surprise that you can have some of the most unique animal and wildlife encounters here.

For animal lovers, there’s many ways you can meet the local wildlife. The Great Barrier Reef adventures we mentioned above are some of the best ways you can see the marine wildlife, but if you’re interested in seeing the wildlife on the land as well, some of our favourite ways to do so include:


Billy Tea Safaris

Led by highly experienced naturalist guides, you can learn more about the flora and fauna of TNQ in an unforgettable day of adventure that is touted as a “total rainforest experience”. Billy Tea Safaris offers small tour groups for a truly personalised day trip. As part of the safari, you will learn about the rich history of the Daintree rainforest during a Daintree River cruise, where you might happen to spot a croc or two. An animal refuge centre, where you’ll have the chance to hand feed wallabies is a favourite stop along the way. And you’ll be able to look for some of the native and rare wildlife that call the area home during an elevated National Park Boardwalk tour.


Hartley’s Crocodile Park

If seeing a croc in person is a goal of yours, then a trip to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is in order when you’re in this part of the world. Hartley’s is only a short 15-minute drive from Palm Cove and the place to go for up close animal encounters. Offering visitors 5 different precincts to explore, you can spot crocodiles by boat on the river cruise; you can meet the colourful tropical birds in a walk-thru aviary; and you can even learn why animals in Australia are so different to every other part of the world. There are also various wildlife presentations and self-guided tour options which will keep you occupied for hours.


Cassowary Coast

If you want to try to spot wildlife out in the wild, then one place you can try your luck at is at an area referred to as the “Cassowary Coast”. Running from Cairns down to Cardwell, the Cassowary Coast was named after the large flightless birds who call this region home. The prehistoric and majestic cassowaries can be spotted roaming fields freely.  If you do manage to see a cassowary, give it some room, because they can be fast!

Feast on the local fare

How would you like to spend the day indulging in the best local produce? Well, Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventure is one of the easiest ways you can do so.

When you’re in TNQ, particularly in Palm Cove, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to food and dining. Many restaurants and cafes offer the local delicacies prepared in incredibly delicious ways. However, when you take a tour with Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventure, you not only get to taste it, but you can also see where it comes from too!

Making 7 stops along the way, you will be able to feast on tropical fruits, cheeses, chocolate, locally grown tea and coffee, nuts, and of course locally made liqueurs, spirits, and wine – even mango wine.

And while the produce is the star of the show, at some stops along the way, you will have the chance to see the unforgettable landscapes of the area and even the native wildlife of the region, like the platypus.

This trip includes breakfast, lunch, and lots of snacks and tastings along the way, but make sure you bring some spending money, because you’re going to want to take some of this incredible food back with you. Learn more about this tour here.

Where to call home

At the end of your long day of adventure, there’s only one place you want to call home – and that’s here at the Reef House in Palm Cove.

Offering you the ultimate in luxurious accommodation, you can relax at our colonial style beachfront property after a full day of exploring the best that Tropical North Queensland has to offer. Our unique combination of olde world charm and personalised customer service will ensure that your time in Palm Cove is unlike any holiday you’ve ever had before.

Stay with us today.


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