Unlock the ultimate Palm Cove experience with these top 10 must do things to do in Palm Cove for an unforgettable three day stay. You’ll enjoy an unforgettable holiday in this culinary haven, with tranquil beachfront promenades, pampering spa escapes, and a captivating road trip through Atherton Tableland!
Things to do in Palm Cove Queensland
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 of 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.
Escape to captivating Palm Cove for an unforgettable three-day retreat filled with relaxation, indulgence, and exploration.
DAY 1 – START YOUR THREE DAYS IN PALM COVE
Drive or fly into Cairns and pick up a hire car and take the road north towards Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. Palm Cove is about 25 minutes’ drive from Cairns, and with a right-hand turn and quick drive through the ‘burbs, you’ll be cruising down the esplanade thinking you’ve found a bit of heaven!
The beachfront here reminds me of the best things about Bali, minus the beach sellers and crowds. You stroll along a palm tree-shaded foreshore with a golden sand beach lapped by gentle waves on the shoreline. It’s picture-perfect.
Must do 1 – Watch the sunset at Palm Cove ticks all the boxes. 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 along the boardwalk to the end of the jetty and see what the local fishermen will be enjoying for dinner fresh from the ocean. Don’t walk on the beach at night in case of crocodiles.
Must do 2 – Dine at NuNu Restaurant! Award-winning NuNu Restaurant offers a menu featuring local and regional flavours that will delight your palate. It is my favourite place to eat in Palm Cove for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Dine almost on the beach amidst tropical gardens and swaying palm trees. The menu changes frequently, but you might be able to 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.
Must do 3 – Fall asleep lulled by the gentle sound of waves lapping the beach.
Must do 4 – Have breakfast looking at the beach. You don’t have to go far to find breakfast in Palm Cove, with NuNu offering a range of delicious, innovative tastes. If you are looking for something more standard, like bacon and eggs done very well and great coffee, try Espresso Co on the Esplanade. It’s always busy, but the turnover is quick, and the service is good.
Must do 5 – Explore the region. You’ll want to get on the road fairly early as there’s so much to explore on a road trip through the Atherton Tablelands, sampling locally made coffee, cheese, chocolate, liqueur and more on 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 Dairyland. Put some award-winning Gallo Tilsit and Gruyere in your take-home bag or start putting together a grazing platter for holiday snacks!
Must do 6 – Spot a platypus! Continue on the trail, but make sure to stop at The Australian Platypus Park Smokehouse Cafe, where there is an excellent opportunity to spot a platypus and try locally smoked products. 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.
For Palm Cove short break dinner, try Vivo on the esplanade but be sure to book. We just had their local fish and chips special, and it came with a big piece of battered coral trout, caper mayo and perfectly cooked chips. It’s always busy, so be sure to book.
For a pre or post-dinner drink, take a detour up the stairs at Palm Cove Shopping Village (also on Williams Esplanade) and find Third on the Left Wine Bar. Make sure you read their highly amusing rules.
If you would rather head north, try this fabulous Great Barrier Reef Drive, which will take you through the Daintree as far as Cape Tribulation. It’s an easy day trip from Palm Cove. Your third option is to take a right-hand turn off the Great Barrier Reef Drive and explore Port Douglas. It has plenty of charms to enjoy.
Must do 8 – Yoga on the beach. Picture this: You are standing under the palms while waves crash on the shore just a few feet away, saluting the sun! Join a Hartig Yoga class. For breakfast, try 27 Degrees, a little hidden cafe that serves Allpress coffee and acai bowls. It’s highly rated on TripAdvisor.
Must do 7 – Spa treatment. Palm Cove is one of Australia’s spa capitals and you’ll find there are plenty of options for a relaxing massage or treatment. My favourite spot is L.M. Spa on the rooftop of Alamanda Palm Cove.
Must do 9 – See a crocodile! The best place to see a crocodile is Hartleys Crocodile Adventures which is a 15-minute drive north of Palm Cove and have a crocodile burger for lunch at Lilies Bistro! Fashionistas might also find it hard to resist the range of crocodile skin bags.
Must do 10 – Enjoy your own local tasting platter with a sunset view. Now it’s time to bring out some of those great food finds over the past two days and create your own platter to enjoy. If you need any more produce for your platter, check the shelves at Pete’s Place for local goodies.
For dinner head back to Palm Cove Village to El Greco Taverna for a taste of Greece in Palm Cove.
Drift Palm Cove
Time to bid a bittersweet farewell to the stunning Palm Cove, folks! Pack those sun-soaked memories and sandy souvenirs as we reluctantly shuffle forward on our journey. But oh, what relaxation we enjoyed in the heart of tropical North Queensland!
Sippin’ cocktails under the swaying palms, we’ve become one with the easy-breezy vibes of Palm Cove. The sand between our toes has practically adopted us as honorary beach residents, and those lazy days? They’re now etched in our minds like sun-kissed tattoos.
Ah, the culinary escapades! From seafood delights that would make Poseidon jealous to tropical concoctions that infused the very essence of vacation into our taste buds – Palm Cove, you’ve spoiled us in every delicious way imaginable.
As we wistfully peer back at the coastline, a part of us wonders, “Can’t we just set up camp here forever?” But life’s tides tug us forward, promising more adventures beyond the palm-fringed horizon. So, Palm Cove, let it be known: your memory will remain imprinted in our souls like a sunburn on an overenthusiastic beach bum.
Same time next year, you say? Oh, it’s not a question – it’s a promise! We’ll return to your sandy embrace to rekindle the flame of tranquillity and get lost once again in your tropical daydreams.
For this visit, I stayed at Drift Palm Cove on Williams Esplanade, just across from the beach. We booked a two-bedroom apartment, which was very spacious.
Written by Kerry Heaney
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