This Australian Tropical Paradise Is Worth the Flight—Here’s Why

Delicia Smith
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Set in the prettiest little pocket of Tropical North Queensland, Palm Cove’s unique, village-like feel will transport you back to simpler days. It’s the perfect sleepy spot for a slow travel experience, being an easy 25-minute drive from Cairns airport and with everything you need within gentle walking distance, so there’s no need to hire a car.

Known for its ancient melaleuca (or paperbark) trees which line the casual esplanade, Palm Cove is all chilled, barefoot vibes, palms aplenty and clear, warm waters—it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.

We spent a week living like a local (think: lowkey beach bars and excellent restaurants, moonlit walks with views of the Milky Way, sunrise yoga, travelling everywhere by foot or bicycle and all the oysters you can eat!), so before you book an overseas adventure, read on for all Palm Cove’s must-see spots and why you should travel there instead.


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The Reef House

As soon as you arrive at the Reef House you’re greeted by the friendliest staff who you’ll be on first name terms with by the end of your stay. Steeped in colonial charm and built around centuries old melaleucas, rooms are luxe and feel spacious and inviting, with huge balconies and pool views. It’s the little touches that set the hotel apart, like antipasto and prosecco on arrival, complimentary Brigadier’s punch and dainty canapés each night in the guest lounge where you’ll meet fellow guests from all over the world, as well as an honesty bar stocked with top-shelf tipples to make your own cocktails (a recipe book is nearby for the non-creatives). We also made use of the hotel bicycles each day, and of course relaxed by the two pools. Talk about a slice of paradise.  



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Nu Nu

Vibrant dishes cooked by award-winning chefs using locally sourced ingredients, Nu Nu is a must-visit while in Palm Cove. The menu is seasonal and features an abundance of delicious flavours. Highlights of our dinner were the oysters (which are shucked to order and possibly the largest we’ve ever tried!) with fresh hibiscus granita and lime, pineapple and turmeric curry of wild ginger pork belly, caramel, coconut, thai basil and crackle, and the rhubarb, bunya nut and spelt tart, basil, rose and yoghurt sorbet. Needless to say we almost rolled out of the restaurant, which is fronted by the beach and the lapping waves of the Coral Sea.



After eating here three times during our holiday, it’s safe to say this was a firm favourite. We couldn’t go past the oysters (are you spotting a theme yet?) or the locally caught coral trout. The wine list is also worth a look with some impressive drops, but if you have a special bottle of your own you’d like to bring, there’s BYO on Tuesdays with $8 corkage. The Artroom which showcases local artists is right next to the restaurant and is worth a look.



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Chill Cafe 

Talk about a laid-back, fun vibe. Chill Cafe is welcoming to all, and serves up delicious cocktails, craft beers on tap, oysters (of course!) and the best burgers in town. Thursdays to Sundays you’ll find locals and tourists pushing back the tables and dancing to live music, so bring your dancing shoes.  


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27 Degrees

Next door to Reef House is 27 Degrees, with its comfy blue bean bags on the lawn and a bright neon sign it is possibly the cheeriest little cafe in Palm Cove. Serving up coffee that is perfection (All Press), health bowls and raw treats, locally brewed kombucha on tap, cold pressed juices and smoothies that are the perfect mix of health and indulgence. Try the Charlie Brown, you won’t regret it.



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Palm Cove Markets

The Palm Cove Markets are on the first Sunday of each month, from April to December. Buy local, quality handmade products from contemporary jewellery, leather work, pottery, clothes, skincare, plants and produce, wellness stalls and food direct from the makers.


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Reef House Day Spa

As soon as you set foot into the cool, calm spa at the Reef House you instantly feel relaxed. We tried the Muscle Melt hot stone massages and Deep Release massages, and while they’re more for relaxation than recovery, we left feeling fully pampered. We also heard that the Ocean Spa Ritual was sublime.

Hartig Yoga

Daily classes are held either on the beachfront outside the Alamanda Resort, on the rooftop of the Saraya, or poolside at the Imagine Drift Palm Cove. With such stunning locations as inspirations, drop ins are OK, but bookings are recommended.


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