Palm Cove. The name alone is enough to evoke daydreams of soft tropical breezes, golden sands, catch-of-the-day dining delights and deep-level pampering in fragrant luxury spas.
Perfectly placed between busy Cairns and glamorous Port Douglas, Palm Cove is where Tropical North Queensland comes to chill. Famed for its friendly village atmosphere, golden beach, low-key luxury and some of the best seafood in TNQ, Palm Cove is a small, perfect getaway for visitors seeking a little quiet indulgence.
Head to beachside Williams Esplanade, lined with centuries-old paperbark trees and swaying palms, for shaded eateries, luxury spas and premium accommodation. And don’t be surprised to come across a barefoot bridal party on the beachfront. This is one of the nation’s favourite fairytale wedding destinations.
Relax, refresh and rejuvenate with a five-star spa
Considered the day-spa capital of the nation, Palm Cove is the perfect locale for resorts promising to help you wind down, detox and restore balance, often packaged with luxury accommodation or dining deals. Award-winning Vie Spa at the Pullman Resort offers a tempting package deal of 60-minute massage or facial, two-course lunch, glass of wine and use of the pool facilities. Internationally recognised Reef House and Spa on Williams Esplanade boasts exclusive use in Australia of French Phytomer marine bio-tech skincare with its seasonal packages.
In keeping with Palm Cove’s ardour for romance, couples’ treatments are very popular. Book a package for two and journey side-by-side with your spa-mate to new depths of relaxation and sensory delight.
Mouthwatering produce and top-shelf hospitality
While it’s rightly renowned for its seafood, Palm Cove has long been a destination for hospitality groundbreakers making the most of the tropical north’s sensational produce. Local kitchens hum with exciting modern, Australasian and native flavours.
The absolute beachfront Nu Nu has long led the fine-dining charge with a bold menu of ambitious local dishes. Nab a table a few squeaky footsteps from the water’s edge and dive into superstar dishes including house-cured barramundi, wok-fried mud crab and pork belly with ginger. Other beachfront stunners with big reputations include Reef House, Vivo, Kushi Japanese and Temple of Tastes, which prides itself on local and organic offerings.
For more casual options, Apres Bar and Grill offers beachfront beverages and live music and Lucky Fish is a top pick for fish and chips at the water’s edge.
Life in the slow lane
In line with Palm Cove’s meditative feel, outdoor activities are relaxed. Early birds can paddle a kayak from the beach for a special reef sunrise experience and may spot turtles, rays, and a pod of dolphins. Kayak rentals, snorkelling and kitesurfing tours are all available in Palm Cove.
Palm Cove’s jetty is one of north Queensland’s most popular fishing spots. Built as a departure point for Great Barrier Reef cruises, its exposure to south-east swells meant tour operators abandoned it to anglers who flock there to hook mackerel, barramundi and giant trevally. If you fancy wetting a line, rods and bait are available at Nanuk’s food truck at the jetty.
If you’re using Palm Cove as your base, you can access Great Barrier Reef and rainforest tours with operators running Palm Cove pick-up and shuttle services for tours departing from Cairns and Port Douglas. Tour booking desks will happily make the arrangements.
Biked and Beached in Williams Esplanade rents bicycles and gear for kids and adults, including beachgoing fat bikes. For a change of pace, Dan’s Mountain Biking runs tours ranging from easy half-day rainforest rides to wild and exhilarating downhill runs on the former world championship course at Smithfield near Palm Cove.
And for a rich cultural experience, Tjapukai Indigenous Culture Centre, 15 minutes from Palm Cove, runs day and night activities teaching visitors about 40,000 years of Bama rainforest people through stories, dance and face-painting
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