Eating outdoors is one of the great pleasures in a tropical climate. Here’s our top picks for rolling out the blanket for some of the best picnic spots within easy reach of Cairns.
Within the Crater Lakes National Park Lake Eacham is a former volcanic crater filled with fresh sweet water perfect for cooling off in. Surrounded by rainforest, the lake has a fabulous grassed area near the swimming platform with picnic tables, BBQ’s and shady tables and chairs. Take your swimmers as this is a wonderful place for a dip in summer or winter.
Picnic here for: lakeside forest views and safe swimming
Famous for their multi-award winning cheese and yoghurt, biodynamic (meaning organic) Mungali Creek Dairy sits 800 metres above sea level. In the southern Atherton Tablelands, the jersey cows roam rolling hills surrounded on three sides by World Heritage listed rainforest.
Pop into their boutique Cheesery and Teahouse Out of the Whey, which is housed in the original farm homestead for free cheese and yoghurt tasting. Or pick up a picnic lunch to devour overlooking farmland to Mount Bartle Frere, Queensland’s highest mountain.
Picnic here for: getting your dairy fix
More Cairns Itineraries
Atherton Tablelands Food Trail … The highlands are known as the food bowl of north Queensland for good reason
Best Road Trips from Cairns … From day trips to epic multi-day adventures
Cairns for Romantics … Perfect spots to bring a picnic and bottle of bubbly
Cairns in 3 Days … It’s all action in this sunny, sophisticated coastal city
Cairns: Where to Eat, Play and Stay … Top picks for making the most of Cairns and the northern beaches
Captain Cook Highway regularly appears on Best Scenic Drives lists across the globe. Winding along the coast where the Coral Sea meets the rainforest, it’s one of Australia’s most popular. It takes about an hour to drive between Cairns and Port Douglas. But that’s way too quick to take in all the highlights of this stunning drive.
There’s plenty of places to pull over and savour the view, like at Ellis Beach, Oak Beach and a plethora of other un-named coves and bays. High on a headland, Rex Lookout is a splendid spot to roll out the picnic blanket and enjoy 180 degree views Palm Cove to the Daintree coast. Hang gliders use the headland as a launching pad for flights, soaring on updrafts from the Coral Sea.
Picnic here for: dreamy salt-laden mountain views
What could be better than a beach picnic? How about a private beach picnic where you arrive by helicopter? There are no roads to Turtle Bay on Cape Grafton east of Cairns, so you’ll need to get there by boat or helicopter. If it’s an intimate romantic picnic you’re after, this could be the spot!
There’s long strip of sand bookended by rocky headlands with a freshwater stream (and a waterfall if you’re lucky!) burbling in the bushes. But tread softly on the sand, particularly during breeding season (October to March – it’s called Turtle Bay for good reason!
Picnic here for: a Castaway picnic on the mainland