Just 15 minutes drive north of downtown Cairns, Palm Cove might just as easily be known as Paperbark Cove. Ancient paperbark trees vie for shady dominance along the beachfront strip of Palm Cove. Lined with cafes, restaurants and resort hotels, Palm Cove is equally suited for brunch, lunch or dinner, a weekend getaway or a romantic week with a loved one. Honeymooners love Palm Cove but so too do families. that shade the swanky beachfront resorts and restaurants. Beachgoers don’t despair however, as coconut palms line the inviting strip of beach sand and grassed parkland overlooking Double Island.
Palm Cove feels a little like a hidden secret. A secret known only to the well-heeled and the well-connected, that is. Which is a little ridiculous, as Palm Cove regularly appears in ‘Must Go’ lists in travel publications across the globe. Try and get a parking spot for Sunday brunch and you’ll quickly realise the word is well and truly out. Small and intimate with most of the action centred on waterfront Upulu Esplanade, restaurants, cafes, boutiques and gourmet food stores fill in the gaps between intimate resorts and apartment-style hotels beneath the ancient melaleuca trees.
Beautiful people linger over lunch or else loll around on the grass, on the beach or on park benches set up near free public BBQ’s. There’s a fenced kids playground slotted in amongst the palm trees too with the sort of location cafe owners would give their right arm for.
Spa therapy is a big attraction for guests staying overnight, with most resorts featuring their own particular style of pampering. Walk on the beach, throw a fishing line in the water off the jetty, hire a kayak and float across the reef near Haystack Island (turtles feed here), hire a bike or flop and drop on the beach. Palm Cove is all about relaxing, chilling out and hanging out in the sunshine. When hunger pangs arrive, there’s quite a splendid choice of restaurants and cafes on offer, from casual to fine dining and everything in between. Most are alfresco style, taking full advantage of cooling sea breezes.
Nu Nu’s is regularly cited as one of Queensland’s best restaurants, occupying prime real estate and one of the few Cairns restaurants with absolute water frontage. Vivo is another worthy contender for Palm Cove’s best, as is Beach Almond for Asian style seafood or Deli aDrift for a healthy lunch
It’s almost as if the Style Police are doing checks on the road into Palm Cove, making sure new arrivals are suitably kitted out in uber cool tropical threads. Resort wear is not quite de rigeur, but it’s no surprise to come across the odd gold sandal or two holding back manicured toes. If you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to slip into that sexy little black dress in your luggage, Palm Cove is your chance. Fellas, safari suits and hairy chests dressed with gold chains are definitely not making a comeback. (thankfully that fashion disaster seems to have finally been put to rest).
Being such a short distance from Cairns, all the offshore attractions, islands and Great Barrier Reef tours that depart from Cairns are easily accessible from Palm Cove.
Road – 30 km north of Cairns CBD
Rail – QLD Rail to Cairns Station from Brisbane
Air – Cairns International Airport