Spend three days in Palm Cove and enjoy great dining, seaside walks, spa treatments and an Atherton Tableland road trip.  There is a wide choice when it comes to Palm Cove accommodation and restaurants and plenty of things to do including the tempting food trail that you’ll discover on an Atherton Tableland road trip.

Things to do in Palm Cove 

Palm Cove is about 27 kilometres north of Cairns in North Queensland. Centuries-old Paperbark Melaleuca trees line the casual esplanade that is the suburb’s hallmark, creating a relaxed ambience that’s hard to resist.

A Palm Cove short break has it all, but on a small scale, so there’s no danger in being lost in the crowd.  There’s a reliable selection of restaurants, a plethora of spas, boutique shopping and a long stretch of golden, palm tree-lined beach.  It’s also a perfectly positioned jumping-off point for reef or hinterland activities.

Here’s how to spend those three days from breakfast through lunch and dinner. You might want to just lie around, but just in case I have included plenty of activities too.

Start your Palm Cove weekend getaway on Friday night

Palm trees, softly rolling surf, wide beach and a cool tropical breeze – the sunset at Palm Cove ticks all the boxes and your beach front room at Alamanda Palm Cove has the perfect viewing spot. If your room faces the beach, you’ll have a glorious view any time of the day.

Take a sunset stroll along the length of Williams Esplanade and see why Palm Cove is one of Queensland’s most famous beaches.  Walk to the end of the jetty and see what the local fishermen will be enjoying for dinner fresh from the ocean.

Award-winning NuNu Restaurant is just outside your door offering a menu featuring local and regional flavours that will delight your palate. Dine almost on the beach amidst tropical gardens and swaying palm trees.   Do try the lemon bread which will amaze you with its simplicity and flavour.  Tuck into wok-fried local mud crab, smoked red emperor and shaved heart of palm salad.  The food here is as colourful and dramatic as the landscape outside.

I have never been disappointed by the food here.

Saturday morning – Palm Cove road trip

You don’t have to go far to find breakfast on your Palm Cove getaway with Nu Nu offering a range of innovative tastes including cider doughnuts or a local mud crab omelette with giver caramel and white pepper broth.

Taste the tropics on a road trip through the Atherton Tablelands, sampling locally-made coffee, cheese, chocolate, liqueur and more.  Today you are going to explore the Atherton Tableland with a Taste of the Tropics Mountain Tablelands Food Trail.   You’re in the deli of the tropics, and the region’s food bowl is yours to savour and experience. Share the bounty and discover how good fresh food tastes!

Download the Taste Paradise trail app and head off towards Mareeba. Your first stop will be Mt Uncle Distillery where you must taste their Sexy Cat Marshmallow Liqueur.  Try, and you’ll buy the strawberry jam at Shaylee’s  Strawberry Farm and the same with the chocolates and cheese at Gallo’s Dairyland.  Put some award-winning Gallo Tilsit and Gruyere in your take-home bag.

If you would rather head north, try the Great Barrier Reef Drive which will take you as far as Cape Tribulation.


Saturday afternoon

Continue on the trail but make sure to stop at Tarzali Lakes Fishing Park where there is an excellent opportunity to spot a platypus.  Take a turn into the rich green grass hills to find Mungalli Creek Dairy, a family run business producing award-winning biodynamic organic dairy products.  Coffee and a slice of the quark cheesecake with jersey cream will undoubtedly keep you sustained on the way back to Palm Cove.

Saturday night – Palm Cove restaurants

For Palm Cove short break dinner, try Choc Dee Thai Restaurant to enjoy some Thai classics, all available in a variety of spice levels. Set on the esplanade between the palm trees, it’s the perfect place to spend a balmy tropical evening. 

If you want to see a bit of Port Douglas, try a dining experience at Harrison’s where chef Spencer Patrick will wow your taste buds. Read more.

Walk down Williams Esplanade and listen for the hum of voices and you’ll stumble on The Rising Sun Bar & Bistro, a much-loved local haunt and perfect for an after-dinner drink.  Take a seat on the front deck and enjoy the views over the Coral Sea.

Peppers Palm Cove, Great Barrier Reef road trip

Peppers Palm Cove has its own beach. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Sunday morning on your Palm Cove long weekend

Start a new day with a 30-minute first light paddle with Palm Cove Watersports. You’ll gently glide over the fringing reefs of Double Island greeting those first streaks of sunlight as they burst from the horizon.  When you reach the island, there’s fresh fruit and juice followed by a walk along the shoreline to spot rays, sharks, fish and crabs.

It’s known as the ‘Spa Capital of Australia’, so no visit to Palm Cove would be complete without a relaxing spa experience. The Alamanda Spa has an unusual rooftop location, and the open-air treatment rooms each have their own, private plunge pool. After a relaxing massage or treatment, it’s time to relax in the pool and just gaze out over the shoreline.

Got some more time? Drive north and spend an afternoon a mud crabbing walkabout in the mangroves at Cooyar Beach with some experts.

You know you don’t want to, but it is time to head home. Just take some of that Palm Cove serenity with you.

Thinking of an island break instead?

Elysian Retreat is located on an island that you will never want to leave.

Thinking about a road trip instead?  Here a nine top Queensland road trips to start your planning.