14 Amazing Things to do in Palm Cove, Queensland 2021

A tropical paradise away from the hustle and bustle of Cairns and Port Douglas. If you are looking for an idlyic place to relax for a week or to use as your base as you explore Tropical North Queensland, then look no further than Palm Cove.

Located 25km North of Cairns, the small tropical village by the sea is filled with charm, a gorgeous beach, beautiful weather and there are plenty of things to do in Palm Cove. From exploring the rainforest, to snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef to spending your days relaxing on the beach and your nights eating delicious food you won’t short of things to do.

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Things to do in Palm Cove

There are plenty of things to do in Palm Cove from being adventures, heading of town or simply relaxing on the beach. You are bound to find something to do in Palm Cove to suit your needs.

Relax

Trees lining the beach with mountains in the background

The number one reason people head to smaller places such as Palm Cove rather than Cairns or Port Douglas, is to relax. Yes, Cairns and Port Douglas are relaxing too but they can be over run with people.

Palm Cove has plenty of things on offer but they don’t take away from the calm, quiet beach or the cute little cafes where its 5pm somewhere.

Many travellers rise early to see the sunrise, take in a leisurely breakfast before heading back to their rooms to sit on their balconies watching the world go by or reading a book. Before long, it is lunch time followed by a stroll on the beach and maybe a swim.

Nothing is too hard in Palm Cove and your time is dictated by your belly or the rising and setting of the sun.

Explore the beach

A view of the ocean between two large rocks

From the perfect Palm trees down the Cairns end of the beach to the unique rock formations on the Port Douglas side of the beach there is plenty to explore on the beach in Palm Cove.

The still calm mornings to the sunny afternoons with families building sandcastles on the beach, there is bound to be a perfect time of day for everyone to explore the beach.

If you’re lucky, which you are bound to be, you will find your self standing on a stretch of the beach to take in the sounds, sites and smells of the ocean.

Fish off the Pier

Rocks on a beach with a pier and palm trees in the back ground

No matter the time of day you will see locals and tourists casting from the pier. Originally, the pier was used to take tourists out the islands and on ocean adventures so that they didn’t have to travel to Cairns or Port Douglas. However, the sea was too rough and the day trips didn’t last too long.

Boutique Shopping

A green weatherboard building wait a green bike and chalkboard out the front

Whilst there aren’t a lot of shops in Palm Cove the shops that are in Palm Cove are beautiful. Many of the shops have local arts and craft, clothes and jewelry. Even if shopping and art aren’t your thing, I highly recommend popping in for a quick look.

We found a few things to do in the area by looking at some of the paintings!!

Visit a Day Spa

If your holiday is about rest and relaxation why not treating your self to a massage or a facial. There are quite a few day spas that are connected to hotels such as the Pullman, but the public are able to book into these days spas.

In the Palm Cove Shopping area there is a day spa which has services and price lists for you to grab and have a look at and there is also a massage parlour in the shopping area. As you would expect the day spas are not cheap but they are not unreasonable either.

If you are planning on visiting the spas, I recommend sussing it out on the first day of your trip so you can book early.

Eat and drink

A stair case with a colourful sign and green bicycle next to the stairs

One of the best things to do in Palm Cove is to eat and drink. There are more restaurants and bars than you will need for your stay.

From casual dining such at Rattle ‘n’ Hum or the Surf Club to more fancy dinners at Portofino you are bound to find more than one place that you are excited to eat.

If you are trying to save a little money on dining, there are BBQs available to use along the beach – you will need to have your own BBQ tools.

Photograph the Palm Trees

Palm trees along the beach in Palm Cove

One of the most instagrammable things to do in Palm Cove is to walk to the south end of the beach (towards Clifton Beach) and take photos of the Palm Trees, you can’t visit Palm Cove without taking at least one photo of Palm Trees.

If you are hoping to get the perfect Instagram shot I suggest getting up early in the morning or visiting late in the afternoon (not around sunset). While Palm Cove is not over flowing with people looking for the perfect Instagram photo it is a main thorough fair for people accessing their accommodation, using the beach or heading to Clifton Beach.

Walk to Clifton Beach

A sign saying Welcome to Clifton Beach surrounded by palm trees

The beach next to Palm Cove is Clifton Beach. The walk from Palm Cove to Clifton Beach is along a beautiful boardwalk that crosses over creeks and through the rainforest.

Clifton Beach is a much quieter and more local beach. There are no high rise buildings and only low lying holiday homes.

If you are looking for a little more privacy on the beach then I highly recommend a visit to Clifton Beach. As with the beach in Palm Cove be mindful of crocodiles all year round and of jelly fish in the summer. Be particularly mindful of crocodiles in the creeks and rivers that surround Clifton Beach.

Hire electric scooters and bikes

If you are looking to go a little further a field from Palm Cove to beaches such as Clifton Beach or Trinity beach (both further south towards Cairns) or you would like to ride along the beach, then head to Biked & Beach on Williams Esplanade.

Hiring a bike costs $30 for two hours or $50 for a full day, an e-bike, fat tire beach bikes and electric scooters cost $50 for two hours or $100 for 24 hours. There are rates available for multi day and weekly hires.

For further information you can drop into the store or you can check out their website

Kayak tour to Double Island

An image of Double Island off the beach at Palm Cove

If you have had enough of eating, drinking and relaxing on the beach, why not join a kayak tour to double Island.

There are two companies in Palm Cove that offer Kayaking and snorkelling tours to Double Island, Pacific Water Sports and Palm Cove Water Sports. Both companies offer various tours to Double Island including a sunrise tour or a half day tour.

Depending on the tour you choose you may have the chance to snorkel on the reef at Double Island and spot some turtles.

Both tour companies will not be open if the weather conditions are not ideal. I recommend booking in advance as it is quite a popular activity but keep in mind your tour may be cancelled or postponed due to weather.

Rent Kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boards

Generally speaking the water at Palm Cove is pretty calm and is the perfect place to participate in some water sports. Pacific Water Sports and Palm Cove Water Sports both offer Kayak and Stand Up Paddle Board hire. You can book your rentals in advanced over the phone or you can look for their stands at either end of the beach and rent on the day.

If you would like to use a Jet Ski or Kiteboard speak to either companies and they can organise a tour or a lesson for you.

Why not book a SUP sunrise lesson? What better way to start the morning than on the calm ocean with the sun rising on the horizon.

Please be mindful that these activities are weather dependent.

Watch the sunrise

The sun rising in Palm Cove

Usually, I am not a morning person. Getting out of bed early, especially on holidays, is usually a struggle. However, during our trip to Palm Cove sitting on the beach watching the sunrise was one of my favourite things to do.

The beach was quite and there weren’t many people around, it was a really peaceful way to start the day.

After watching the sunrise it was the perfect time to have a quite walk on the beach and to enjoy a relaxed breakfast at one of the many cafes before too many people got up for the day.

Even if early mornings are not your thing, try to get up early once during your stay. You wont regret it.

Book in a day tour

A turtle on a coral reef

One of the most popular things to do in Palm Cove is to organize a day trip out to the reef or up further north to Cape Tribulation.

Whether you want to go to Port Douglas for the day, to Green Island, Fitzroy Island, on a helicopter ride over the reef, to explore the Daintree Rainforest or Mossman Gorge, you will be able to find a tour that leaves from Palm Cove.

You can either book your tours online or you can visit the tour information center opposite the playground on Williams Esplanade. They have plenty of brochure for you to peruse or you can speak to one of the staff and they can organise your perfect day out.

Visit Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

If you are dying to get a glimpse of a crocodile but you’d rather do it from the safely from behind a fence, take a trip to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.

Located just 15 minutes north of Palm Cove you can visit the park with a transfer from Palm Cove included. Entry into Hartley’s is $43 per adult or you can take a transfer from Palm Cove for $146 for two adults.

The transfer leave from Palm Cove twice a day, once at 9am and once at 1pm and allow for about three hours at Hartley’s.

In the morning session you can attend a show where the staff feed the crocodiles and in the afternoon you can attend the crocodile attack show.

We visited in the afternoon and we felt as though we had just enough time to walk around the park, see the croc attack show and take a boat ride on the crocodile infested lagoon.

Not only are the plenty of crocodiles for you to see but you can also visit other Australian animals such as the Cassowary, Koala’s Wallabies, Wombats and Kangaroos.

Places to grab a drink in Palm Cove

Underground Café

A painting of two monkeys dress as London Guards on the wall of a bar

Palm Cove Surf Club

O’Donnells Bar and Grill

An Irish Bar in Palm Cove

Rattle ‘n’ Hum

Places to Eat in Palm Cove

Underground Café

A bacon and egg roll with drinks and pancakes in the background

Palm Cove Surf Club

Espresso&Co

A plate of pancakes at a restaurant with the beach in the background

Shannan and Jack

Elgreko

Tables out the front of Elgreko restaurant in Palm Cove

Palm Cove Tavern

How to get to Palm Cove

From Cairns airport

The closet airport to Palm Cove is Cairns. Direct flights run regularly between Cairns and most Australian cities, Cairns does have a small international airport.

Cairns is located 25km from Palm Cove and takes around 20 – 30 minutes by car.

From Cairns, the easiest and cheapest way to reach Palm Cove is via shuttle service. If you contact your hotel they will most likely be able to organise this shuttle for you. Expect to pay roughly $25 per person each way.

If you are unable to organise a shuttle through your hotel or accommodation, Exemplar Online is another company that runs regular services between Cairns Airport and Silky Oaks, with drop offs in Cairns.

In most cases you will be sharing your transfer with other passengers and you may need to wait until all travellers have arrived before heading off to Palm Cove.

I highly recommend organising a transfer when you have finalised your flights and accommodations. It saves the hassle of making several phone calls when you land.

A bus stop next to the beach in Palm Cove
Is this not the prettiest bus stop you have seen?

From Cairns City Center

Travelling from the City Center is much cheaper as you can take the public bus number 110 to Palm Cove, from Lake Street or Cairns Central. The bus takes 1 hour and costs $5.80 per adult – there are discounted rates for children. You can purchase your tickets on the bus from the driver, it helps to have cash and preferably not a $50 note!

The bus stops next to the playground in the middle of Palm Cove.

Where to stay in Palm Cove

Palm Cove is filled with beautiful accommodations that can easily be booked with booking.com, airbnb or directly through the hotels.

All along Williams Esplanade and back off the main street you will find a range of accommodations to suit all budgets and preferences.

The high season in Palm Cove is usually June and July during the Australian School Holidays when travellers from Victoria and New South Wales travel to Tropical North Queensland to escape the cold.

No matter the season, I recommend booking as early as you can to ensure you can book the accommodation of your choice.

Paradise on the beach

During our stay we were looking for something central, with a beach a view and not too pricey. We decided to stay at Paradise on the beach and booked a room with a sea view.

A bed room with a couch in front of a double bed and a bathroom in the background

Paradise on the beach is located right in the middle of Williams Esplanade in Palm Cove. There are no restaurants, shops or accommodation that is directly n the beach so Paradise on the beach is as close as you can get.

After booking the room with a sea view we were delighted with the view of the beach from our balcony. We found our room was extremely spacious and featured a bathroom with a shower and separate room with a large spa bath.

A view over a playground beside the beach surrounded by palm trees

The room was equipped with a microwave, small fridge, crockery and some basic cooking utensils. However, to wash up after preparing food you need to use the sink in the bathroom.

The hotel has a beautiful pool and spa area which features an undercover BBQ area complete with all the utensils you will need to cook on the BBQ. If you are choosing to cook meals, I recommend meals that can be cooked on the BBQ as this is a much easier option than cooking in your room.

Our room was clean and contained tiled floors which made it easier to keep clean after a day at the beach.

You will find yourself in the middle of all the action but the only noise you will hear at night time in the crashing of the waves and the call of the birds.

Other Hotel Recommendations

If you are looking something with a larger hotel but still in central location I can recommend Peppers Beach Club, whilst you can book via booking.com you can also find some of the rooms/apartments are also privately owned and can be found on Airbnb.

Another option if you are hoping to go a little more upmarket is the Pullman hotel. Located at the Cairns end of the beach the Pullman is not as central as some of the other options but does have the privacy of being away from the center of town.

Crocodiles and Jelly Fish in Palm Cove

A crocodile warning sign on the beach in Palm Cove

Swimming at the beach in Palm Cove in relatively safe. In the summer months, Box Jelly Fish are present in the water, however, stinger nets are placed in the water between the patrol flags. Stinger suits are available for hire or purchase at many of the shops also.

There are bottles of vinegar on all beaches for you to POUR onto your sting if you do happen to be stung by Jelly Fish. If you are stung, immediately pour vinegar (do not rub) onto the sting and SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION STRAIGHT AWAY.

The stinger nets are present in the water until late may early June, from June until the end of September, you would be very unlucky to come across a Jelly Fish.

Crocodiles have been spotted occasionally in Palm Cove, however, they are being managed. Having said that, you will see signs around Palm Cove and the surrounding rivers and towns, advising that you do not swim.

Swimming between the flags on the beach is relatively safe as the ocean is being monitored at all times.

It is wise to exercise caution by not swimming in the rivers, staying well clear of the waters and the waters edges at night time, not camping on the beach or beside a river and following all signs and directions from life guards.

If you do see a crocodile, run in the opposite direction! I guarantee, if you are being chased by a crocodile you legs well go faster than they ever have before.

If in doubt, do not swim and stay away from the waters edges.

Tips for visiting Palm Cove

Travelling and find things to do in Palm Cove is pretty easy but here are my top tips for making sure you get the most out of your trip:

Avoid the breakfast rush by going to breakfast a little earlier, 7:30am – 8:30am was the quietest time. If you are up watching the sunrise take advantage of the quietness of the town and grab some breakfast before heading back to your room.

There are plenty of places to eat but there are also plenty of people visiting Palm Cove. If there is a particular place you would like to go for dinner ahead of time – usually in the morning is plenty of time

There is a small convivence store in Palm Cove which sells basic items but it is very expensive. If you are planning on cooking meals, eating a lot of snacks of drinking a lot, stop in at the Coles supermarket in Clifton Beach. Clifton Beach is the town over from Palm Cove so you can walk, catch the 110 bus or take an Uber/taxi.

There is a bottle shop at the Palm Cove Tavern, which is a drive through Liqour Land and has plenty of variety. There is also a much smaller bottle shop at the Palm Cove Surf Club on the main street

It is quite expensive in Palm Cove so look out for happy hours as the pubs, bars and restaurants or consider eating out for lunch and having a light dinner or cooking your own dinner

In summer it can be very hot and very humid, whether in winter in is more ideal but it can be very windy. Check the weather ahead of time and make sure you are prepared.

Be prepared for the afternoon tropical down pour, this usually doesn’t last long, but maybe grab an umbrella from your hotel or embrace the cooling feel of the rain.

Water sports may be cancelled if the whether conditions are not right so keep an eye on emails or ring to confirm your activity.

Book tours and activities in advanced or at least the day before. If you are unable to book in advance, try to be as flexible as possible

Be prepared to relax, Palm Cove is a beautiful but small place and there is plenty of time for taking it easy

Have you visited Palm Cove before? What are you must do things in Palm Cove? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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