10 things to do in Palm Cove for maximum holiday vibes
While Palm Cove might play little sister to Port Douglas when it comes to its number of visitors, it’s got just as many reasons to visit.
If you’re tossing up whether to venture further north of Cairns, we’ve got 10 reasons Palm Cove should be on top of your to-visit list.
1. Practice your photography somewhere truly photogenic
Palm Cove might’ve been built for visitors, but it’s made for Instagrammers.
There’ll be no need to put your camera back in its camera bag when the Coral Sea’s blue meets a landscaped green at this holiday hot spot. Practice your composition with ancient paperbark trees on one side of Palm Cove’s esplanade and coconut palms on the other.
Beyond natural charm, town planning has done wonders for Palm Cove, limiting the height of buildings so the place feels authentic because it hasn’t sold out to over-population.
2. Dine at the restaurant King of the North
When you want to chew with a view, few places come close to Nu Nu Restaurant.
Its views are as memorable as the food dished up by celebrity chef, Nick Holloway. This is saying something considering Nu Nu’s food is worthy of recognition in our favourite restaurants list,
You can filter Nu Nu’s sizeable menu according to your hunger level, choosing between titbits or big gear like a 1.2kg dry aged, grass fed gippsland t-bone with all the trimmings.
Overlooking the Coral Sea and Double Island, this restaurant doesn’t pay lip-service to its mention of waterfront views. You’ll dine so close to the water, you may need to tip sand out of your stilettos when it comes time to leave.
3. Yoga between the palm trees
There’s yoga and then there’s scenic yoga, and you’ll find the latter in front of Alamanda Resort, which will change how you look at your local yoga studio forever.
Join Harti Yoga at the palm-fringed beachfront outside of Alamanda Resort to salute the Tropical North Queensland sun.
With classes kicking off at a sophisticated hour (from 7:30am), you’ll need to book a place online as class numbers are small.
4. Feast next to the reef
If you like your festivals with a food flavour, mark your diary for October as Reef Feast takes over Palm Cove for four days of food and wine.
The event breaks down the boundaries of each restaurant’s borders, as Tropical North Queensland’s best chefs come together to dish up the best of the destination on a plate.
It’s more than just tropical fruits up for tasting – this year includes homebrew and craft beer awards.
5. Enjoy fish and chips in a new way
Fish and chips and beach culture go together like high heels and the Kardashians, and Lucky Fish in Palm Cove delivers the goods from their funky fit out.
More than just your crumbed and battered selection, there’s fish tacos stuffed with crumbed fish, Asian coleslaw and aioli all nestled into a soft tortilla.
Their calamari has been given a shake-up too with a lime pepper seasoning, which perfectly balances creamy tartare sauce.
Beyond its seafood selection, Lucky Fish could enter itself in a salad heavyweight competition with a super salad packed with kale, broccolini, mint, avocado, quinoa, pepitas, sunflower seeds and tahini dressing.
6. Make a meal out of your trip to the spa
If your self-care routine has been a little lacklustre of late, you need to add Vie Spa to your holiday ritual.
Make a meal out of your massage with their Day Spa & Dine package which includes an amuse bouche by way of a 60-minute massage and facial before a two-course lunch and glass of wine at the onsite Lagoon Bar.
7. To market, to market
Did you even go to a tropical destination if you didn’t come home with a sarong? Check out the Palm Cove Markets held the first Sunday of the month, from April to December (note: no markets are held in September).
You can expect local handmade products on display including jewellery, leather work, pottery, clothing and skincare. And there’s no need to eat breakfast before you hit this market because there’s food dished up too.
If you’re worried you don’t have enough bargaining power to keep the little ones entertained while you shop, you’ll be pleased to know the markets also have a free jumping castle.
8. Smile at a crocodile
Have you ever wanted to watch a 5m crocodile hurl itself out of the water to catch its dinner dancing on a fishing pole? Us too.
Sign yourself up for crocodile cirque du soleil at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, which is one part zoo, one part commercial crocodile farm, both parts fun.
Boardwalks connect various wildlife encounters, but a boat tour on Harley’s Lagoon will give you a front row seat to the croc-feeding show.
If spending a day looking at scaley apex predators isn’t for you, there’s also fury and feathered friends including cassowaries, koalas and quolls at Hartley’s too for a traditional wildlife sanctuary experience.
9. Use paddle power to take to the water
When you’re visiting a destination on the Coral Sea, it makes sense to take to the water to truly experience it. Join Pacific Watersports to paddle your way by SUP, kayak or kiteboard to Double Island.
With crystal-clear water separating the mainland and Double Island, your odds are good to spot small rays, turtles, dolphins, dugong and even a pod of whales, pending the season.
You’ll find Pacific Watersports HQ on the Esplanade, with the telltale paddle board and kayaks next to it.
10. Walk along Clifton Beach
If you like long walks on the beach, get your pina coladas ready because Clifton Beach is calling.
This Palm Cove beach is in a league of its own, having taken out the titles for Australia’s Cleanest Beach, Queensland’s Cleanest Beach and Queensland’s Friendliest Beach over the past decade.
What separates this tropical beach from the rest is the fact it’s netted for swimming all year ‘round.