Two days in Palm Cove
27 kms (one way)
(Hire or BYO)
48 hours is not nearly long enough to chill out to the laid-back rhythm that Palm Cove sways to. But in case you’re short of time, here’s how to make the most of this dreamy beachside village 30 minutes north of Cairns.
7am - Breakfast
We’ve got a busy weekend ahead so the first thing we’ll need to do is fuel up our energy stores. Any excuse will do for a decadent leisurely breakfast. Reef House Palm Cove does a fine breakfast (actually they do pretty much everything perfect) so we linger on the deck of this colonial boutique hotel over a little bit of smashed avo and poached eggs with a vegemite for a twist. Though we could have been swayed by tropical, banana pancakes with thick, toffee sauce, toasted almonds, and hazelnut praline.
9am - Kayaking
With a belly full of sustenance it’s time to expend some of our pent-up energy. We hire kayaks from the northern end of the beach from the aptly named Beach Fun Co. Our destination is Haycock Island, a cute little cone-shaped island about 500 metres off the beach. We take a slow circuitous route over the shallow reef to spot turtles foraging amongst the reef. We’re not disappointed with half a dozen or so popping their heads up to say hi!
11am - Pool time
With the sun warming up we retire to a shady sun lounge beside the lagoon pool at Peppers Beach Club & Spa. Oozing beachside chic thanks to pastel colours and lush tropical gardens, Peppers is uber cool. Plantation shutters that screen wide open terraces, ancient melaleuca trees that filter the tropical sun and an adults-only lagoon pool make Peppers a romantic hideaway made for loving. But more of that later. Chilling out poolside, it’s a bit early for a cocktail (though I could easily be persuaded by a long tall mojito packed full of refreshing mint leaves – it’s 5 o’clock somewhere… ) so we settle for long tall lime and sodas instead.
1pm - Lunch
Gosh is it time to eat again?! Deli aDrift is our café of choice for a light, healthy lunch. Well, we had good intentions to keep it healthy! A Vietnamese chicken baguette is a fab cultural combination that mixes a little bit of France, Vietnam and Aussie. It’s not bad at all but it really needs a little sweetness on the palette to round it out. Oh look, there’s a scrummy hazelnut chocolate tart! That’s exactly what I meant. Lordy, I’ll need to hit the gym hard tomorrow. Then again, we’re on holidays, right?1pm
4pm - Beach stroll
Wandering along the path that dips and dives around the coconut palms it’s pretty obvious how this place got its name. Because we’re still feeling a little giddy from the chocolate tart sugar rush we decide to count the palm trees lining Palm Cove’s Esplanade. Easily distracted by music and a sandwich board advertising Happy Hour cocktails, we give up at 37. Palm trees, not cocktails.
7pm - Dinner
Nu Nu’s is arguably the best restaurant in Palm Cove. It’s definitely the only one that has absolute beach frontage so we planned ahead and made a reservation weeks ago! Nu Nu’s makes regular red carpet appearances on ‘best of’ lists so we’ve come with high expectations. We allow Chef Nick Holloway to unleash his creativity and surprise us with a 7 seven course tasting menu. At $110 pp (ad $89pp if you want matched wines too) it’s not the sort of dinner you’d do every night. But then again: beachfront, Palm Cove, the waves are lapping the shore, a full moon rises on the watery horizon. It’s a perfect evening.
10pm - Lay your head
It’s been a long day so it’s a good thing we’ve got a plush king bed to collapse into back at Peppers Beach Club & Spa. Weekend getaways really are quite exhausting.
7am - Beachfront markets
It’s Market Day! Once a month during the dry season cars are banished and market stalls take over the beachfront. It’s absolutely one of the best days to linger in Palm Cove. We spend hours poking through the stalls picking up a trinket here, some handmade soap there. A freshly squeezed mango and lime juice clears away the cobwebs from last nights over-indulgence. We wander, we shop, we eat a little more. We chill out on the grass and people-watch. A swim in the ocean followed by a walk along the beach is a soothing balm to shopping and eating. Then another swim. Swim, walk, eat, repeat.
1pm - BBQ lunch
It’s a few hours since our last meal so it’s definitely time to indulge again. Lunch time in Palm Cove is a good time to take it easy with a casual BBQ on the beachfront. Free BBQ’s, picnic tables and a balmy setting create a relaxed vibe with plenty of others having the same idea. Still, it’s no hardship to settle down on a picnic blanket with a bottle of chilled wine while we wait for a BBQ to become available. We could easily settle in here for hours. As it turns out that’s exactly what we do.
3pm - Massage
It’s been such a hectic weekend a massage is called for. After a 90 minute hot stone massage and some foot pampering at Vie Spa at Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple I seem to have lost the use of my limbs. Not that it matters, I’m so relaxed I feel like I’m floating away with the fairies. Can someone please call a taxi?
6pm - Dinner
Beach Almond manages to meld Asian and seafood styles in a beguiling menu that makes decisions impossible. A sucker for prawns I eventually choose Bali black pepper butter prawns. But then again, the tropical lobster with turmeric, coconut and mild chilli sauce sounds equally delicious. Traditional Thai style green papaya salad on the side is every bit as good as it sounds.