Volcanic activity formed the gorgeous Lake Eacham, which is popular among locals. It’s a clear, blue lake in the middle of a cool rainforest. Take the 3.5km walk around the lake or go swimming, canoeing and have a picnic. Because it’s about an hour inland and only accessible by the windy Gillies Range, it’s not on many travellers’ radars. But if you have your own car it’s not an issue getting there.
Venture 75km south of Cairns and you’ll encounter one of Australia’s most exciting waterfalls, which is fed by rains cascading down Queensland’s highest mountain, Bartle Frere. It’s consistently ranked as a top favourite among visitors. Swim in crystal clear waters and relax with a picnic lunch on its smooth boulders. You can also slide down the bottom part of the waterfall. Park your car and it’s only a 700-metre walk through rainforest to get to the falls.
Travel 45 minutes by boat and you’ll feel as if you’ve entered an unspoilt, tropical island paradise. Stunning blue waters, an abundance of coral and marine life along with lush forests await. Fitzroy Island has many walking trails that treat you to spectacular views. We recommend doing the 3.6km steep trek to the lighthouse as soon as you get off the boat. Then you can spend the rest of your day relaxing by the cool ocean.
Drive north of the CBD and you’ll be enjoying one of the most famous Cairns attractions (pictured, image by Martin Galivursky 123rf). This quiet, relaxing seaside village is the perfect place to have a meal or coffee on a hot day as you enjoy the cooling sea breeze. After walking past the exotic, distinct palm trees, take a dip in the ocean. Make sure you swim between the nets and wear a stinger suit during summer when stingers are about.
This is one of the most charming waterfalls and the best part about it is it’s right on Cairns’ doorstep. It’s a secluded freshwater swimming hold, hidden in a tropical rainforest at the city’s fringe. Several small waterfalls flow into large pools that you can swim in. There’s also a BBQ and picnic tables for visitors. It’s a scenic drive to get here. Once you’re at the carpark, be prepared to walk for half an hour to the falls.