Palm Cove, a chic yet relaxed town 30 minutes drive from Cairns, is the ideal base for exploring Far North Queensland. Discover the best accommodation, restaurants, resorts and more.
Every evening at twilight, guests of The Reef House Palm Cove gather at the Brigadier’s Bar & Lounge for complimentary drinks and canapés – a nod to the hotel’s former life as a restaurant and private residence. It’s now a boutique resort featuring 67 rooms and suites with South Pacific décor set among lush gardens. The pinnacle of Palm Cove accommodation, it has a heated mineral pool and offers beachside yoga.
The lunch restaurant
Of all the Palm Cove restaurants dotted along beachfront Williams Esplanade, Vivo enjoys top billing for its location, excellent food and genial service. Housed in a classic colonial-style North Queensland building, the eatery typifies Palm Cove’s casual elegance. The all-day dining menu is an eclectic mix of international influences, from pasta and prawns to Szechuan and steak. While the stand-out nasi goreng with Asian peanut salad is sublime, it should come with a warning about the super-spicy sambal on the side.
The dinner restaurant
For barefoot indulgence and palm-framed views of the Coral Sea, Nu Nu restaurant at the Alamanda Palm Cove resort offers a culinary experience to remember. Be sure to ask for a beachfront table and to order the wokfried local mud crab served with chilli tamarind, sweet pork and market greens.
Just five minutes north of town is the tiny community of Ellis Beach, where the resident population of just 24 swells as travellers pass through on their way to the Daintree, camping along the stretch of golden sand. The Ellis Beach Bar & Grill is a top spot for a lazy Sunday afternoon with $1 oysters, live music and cold beer.
Often referred to as the Day Spa Capital of Australia, Palm Cove is home to 14 spas within walking distance of the village. Travelling à deux? Don’t miss the couples massage at Soul Escapes Wellness Sanctuary.
The family daytrip
A 15-minute drive from Palm Cove, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (pictured top) opened in the 1930s as a roadhouse with a “tame” croc called Charlie. He died in 2000 but Charlie’s legend lives on. More than 4000 crocs now call this eco-tourism park home – some of them having been relocated after misbehaving in local residential areas. You can take a lagoon cruise, walk the wildlife trail and watch feeding time.
Top image credit: Andrew Watson.