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Mission Beach & The Cassowary Coast

The Charms of the Cassowary Coast

This quiet stretch of the Tropical North Queensland coast is the closest point to the Great Barrier Reef on the mainland. Flanked by lush rainforest, the dreamy beachside enclave of Mission Beach is at its heart.

Mission Beach is uncommercialised and full of genuine locals who will let you in on their secret swimming holes or have a chat in the bar

Nancy Lowe – Mission Beach Dive

Mission beach from above


Running from Cairns to Cardwell, the Cassowary Coast is one of the undiscovered gems of Queensland, a quiet stretch of coastline bordered by the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Mission Beach (actually four separate towns spread along a 14km stretch of palm-fringed beach) is at its heart. Despite its popularity, the town has retained a dreamy, laid-back vibe and the welcoming locals are never outnumbered by tourists.

snorkelling on reef near mission beach


Mission Beach was the birthplace of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and is the closest access point for the reef, less than 40km offshore. It’s a quiet, uncrowded area of the reef and you’re unlikely to have to share your snorkelling or diving spot with any other boats.

Dunk island from the air


The Family Group of Islands are just a few kilometres off the coast from Mission Beach. Camp overnight on uninhabited Coombe and Wheeler islands, hike through the rainforest on Dunk Island, or indulge in a luxurious resort stay on Bedarra Island. The islands are easily accessible via a water taxi or charter boat from Mission Beach.

Cassowaries on beach


The area around Mission Beach is home to one of the highest concentrations of the endangered cassowary in Australia. These large flightless birds can be spotted walking through fields and gardens, and even occasionally swimming across rivers.

canefields with mountains in background


About 90km south of Cairns, Innisfail is a colourful town at the confluence of the North and South Johnstone rivers. The picturesque spot is surrounded by green sugar plantations, fruit fields and wild rainforest. Innisfail is the art deco capital of Australia and there are free weekly walking tours that take in the significant buildings of the city centre.

Skydiving over mission beach


There’s plenty for the more adventurous at heart, too: Mission Beach is the access point to white-water rafting down the Tully River (about 50km inland), and offers skydiving over the reef and rainforest.


  • You’ll see lots of roadside fruit stalls around the region. Take what you like and leave your money in the honesty box. This region is the banana capital of Australia, so delicious bananas are usually plentiful.

  • Soak in a natural spa pool. The 26km Cardwell Forest Drive loops through the Girringun National Park, known for its spectacular waterfalls and secluded swimming holes. Be sure to have a soak in the Spa Pool, a rock pool with a natural depression that causes the water to bubble like a Jacuzzi.

  • The Mission Beach Markets are held on the first and third Sunday of the month right beside the beach, which has fantastic views of the offshore islands. You’ll find everything from local produce and plants to second-hand clothes, crafts, books and jewellery.

  • Be aware of the environment around you. From October to June, dangerous marine stingers (including box jellyfish) are found in the ocean off Mission Beach. During this time, swim only within netted areas.

Discover More

There are plenty of hidden treasures tucked away along the Cassowary Coast, from secret beaches and snorkelling spots to secluded waterfalls and laid-back villages.

driving on the cassowary coast
Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
Great Green Way – The start of your East Coast Adventure

Spanning 457km down Australia’s East Coast, the drive from Cairns to Townsville encompasses waterfalls, wetlands, mountains, and plenty of friendly country towns.

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Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
12 things you didn’t know about Paronella Park

Riddle us this – where can you find a tourism attraction that’s eco-certified, heritage-listed, completely carbon neutral and just one-and-a-half hours’ drive from Cairns CBD? The middle of Mena Creek, home to Paronella Park.

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Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
Riding the Misty Mountains Trails near Mission Beach

The Misty Mountain trails consist of a number of scenic rides from the coast to the rainforest. Ride the wilderness tracks and explore the Cassowary Coast with these hot hints.

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Cardwell Spa Pool
Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
Everything you need to know about the Cardwell Spa Pool

Cardwell Spa Pool is a naturally-fed, seasonal creek that shot to stardom on social media in 2016. Ever since, people have been adding it to their holiday itinerary but there are a few things you might not know about this idyllic swimming spot.

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Garners Beach Mission Beach
Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
Secret Beaches & Coves of Mission Beach

Mission Beach would be better referred to as Mission Beaches with its 14km stretch of sand interlinking three beaches and four villages. Lesser known are the smaller beaches and coves that make up a huge part of its charming appeal.

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Cardwell Spa Pool
Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
5 Detours while cycling the Cassowary Coast

Take a break from pedalling to stop and smell the roses… or in this case, the heliconias, at these incredible detours from Cairns to the Cassowary Coast.

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Attie Creek Falls
Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
12 other things to do when visiting the Cardwell Spa Pool

Whether you’re out to catch a barra, hike Australia’s largest island National Park or adventure your way through a scenic 4WD track, Cardwell is the perfect launch pad for an outdoorsy weekend with a friendly local twist.

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wongaling beach
Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
Guide to the natural attractions around Mission Beach

Snuggly tucked along the Cassowary Coast, Mission Beach and its 14 kms of golden beaches are one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Here are all the reasons why.

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Person next to palm tree on mission beach

Getting here

  • car driving in mission beach

    By car

    Self-drive or hire a car to uncover the secrets of the Cassowary Coast. The road is completely sealed and is two-wheel drive accessible.

  • Greyhound bus

    By coach

    Greyhound Australia and Premier Motor Service operate daily departures from Brisbane to Cairns, via Cardwell, Tully, Mission Beach and Innisfail. Additional fare options are available into Brisbane from major and regional centres around the country with forward travel to Tropical North Queensland a popular option.

  • mission beach water taxi

    By ferry

    Take the Dunk Island Water Taxi to Dunk and Bedarra Islands. Transfer services operate between Cardwell and Hinchinbrook Island.

  • train in countryside

    By rail

    Queensland Railway’s Spirit of Queensland and Tilt Train operate to Tully; then take a coach to Mission Beach.


Relax and unwind surrounded by nature.

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

Beachy keen on this little patch of paradise 🌴☀️ Discover stunning sandy beaches & quaint seaside villages at #MissionBeach in @tropicalcoastqueensland 🐚✨
​📸 @sarahjanegriffiths #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Nature takes centre stage at #MissionBeach in @tropicalcoastqueensland 🏝 With long unspoilt beaches, deserted islands & white-water rivers fringed by rainforest, this secluded seaside village is the perfect place to escape for a while & relax 🐠☀️ Looking for something a little more exciting? Don’t worry, it’s got that too! 🙌 @skydiveaustralia anyone? 🪂
​📸 @venturewithcody #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Beaches, beaches & more beaches 🙌🏼 Welcome to #MissionBeach, 14km of stunning sandy shores linking 3 beaches & 4 seaside villages 🏝 But there’s a few you might not have seen before ⛱ Lesser known are the smaller beaches & coves that make up a huge part of its charming appeal 🌺✨ Whether you’re looking for a relaxed hideout or an adventurous getaway, Mission Beach has something for you 💙
​📸 @riancope #exploretnq #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
What happens when you add sun, sand & some bendy palms? 🏝 You get @mariadrig & some chilled back tropical vibes 🙌🏼 leave your footprints on the sandy beach behind you & dive into the dazzling blue waters of #MissionBeach 💙🌴
​#exploretnq #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Flanked by lush rainforest with the dreamy beachside enclave of #MissionBeach is at its heart, @tropicalcoastqueensland is a little patch of paradise in what is (hopefully) your favourite part of @queensland 🙌🏼😉 There's adventure in the skies ✈️ & island living at ground level 🏝 Not to mention our elusive friend the cassowary ✨ You're probably plastering pictures of this magical spot all around your room already 📸 ​The palms are waving from afar & waiting patiently for your arrival 🌴👋
Photo by ​@jacintapink #exploretnq #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
#MissionBeach? More like Mission Beaches 🏝 Famed for its 14km of coconut lined golden sand, the area also includes a number of smaller coves where it's the norm to not see another soul, except for maybe the the occasional cassowary 🥥☀️ You might not be able to get here right now, but that can't stop you from getting ready for your holidays to come ✨🧳 For the moment, grab a drink, slide on your sunnies & imagine that your backyard sandpit is a beach 🕶🏖
​Photo by @irjaliinapaavonpera #exploretnq #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
The moustache & glasses won’t cut it in the animal world 🕵‍ These Soldier Crabs are masters of disguise. Their bright blue colour is a common signal to potential predators that they are poisonous, but these guys definitely aren’t ☠️💙 If you’re looking to find out more about some of the animals scuttling about at #MissionBeach, try exploring the reef with @mission_beach_dive 🐠🛥 Video by @best_wildlife_pics
​#exploretnq #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland
Somebody sound the alarm because a sunrise at #KurrimineBeach is worth rising for ⏰  This is one of the few places in the region that you can access the reef straight from the shoreline at low tide. No wonder turtles kept trying to photobomb ​@liamebe's photo 🐢 Find this local favourite in @tropicalcoastqueensland just north of #MissionBeach ⛵️🌅 #exploretnq
​#thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
​Diving into Monday like... 🤸‍♂️ ​This epic shot was snapped at the annual Far North Freefall's Cay Boogie over #DunkIsland & #TaylorCay 🌴 Skydiving in @tropicalnorthqueensland is a must-do for adrenaline junkies with water so clear you can see fish from the sky 🐠🐚 ​The party doesn't stop when you hit the ground though! Discover beaches, brooks & birds at the dreamy #MissionBeach 🏖 Photo by @grandadssaggyballs #exploreTNQ
Cairns has long been known as the ‘Adventure Capital of @australia’ & white water rafting down the #TullyGorge is one of the reasons why! This full day tour from #Cairns or #MissionBeach will have your hurdling down grade 3-4 rapids while surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest - is there a better combo?! 🛶 Get up close like @paradiseadventuretravel #exploreTNQ
"Perks of #vanlife is being able to watch the sunrise from a beautiful beach each day" according to @doingdownunder & we couldn't agree with you more. The #MissionBeach area has great beachfront campsites peppered right along its coastline but one of the best has to be the campgrounds at #BingilBay where you'll be perched right up against the shore 🌊⛺️ #exploreTNQ
Are you dreaming of a breezy beach escape this year? 🏖 The laid-back coastal town of #MissionBeach has it all – swaying palm trees, native cassowaries & tropical #DunkIsland 🌴 Make like @andshexplores & switch vacation mode on here 😎🍹 #exploreTNQ
Change up your daily commute from the office to strolling along the golden stretch of sand at #MissionBeach 👣 For an island escape, @mission_beach_water_taxi can get you to #DunkIsland in only 10 minutes & before you can say "take me to @tropicalcoastqueensland" 😉 Photo by @a_blazing_life #exploreTNQ
Seize the day along the picturesque @tropicalcoastqueensland & take a moment to appreciate a pastel sunrise over the ocean 🌅 @mycolourfulworld_ said this sunrise was "definitely one of the most captivating shows I’ve seen in a while" 🙌🏼✨ Your next long weekend getaway is sorted – #MissionBeach 😎 #exploreTNQ
CAUTION ⚠️ Cassowaries crossing up ahead in #EttyBay on the @tropicalcoastqueensland 🐾 About 50km north of #MissionBeach, is the sleepy village of Etty Bay, that fronts onto one of @Australia's best-kept secret beaches 🏖 Plus it's home to a number of local cassowaries, with an almost guarantee spotting if you're looking 👀 Photo by @meandmytravelbugs #exploreTNQ
Cruising through the week like... 🐢 @jaym3s2 captured this giant green sea turtle off the coast of #CapeTribulation unexpectedly when flying his drone 👀 Did you know 6 out of 7 species of turtle in the world are found here on the @gbrmarinepark? 🌏 It's not uncommon to bump into one of these friendly marine reptiles when you explore the reef off #Cairns, #PortDouglas & #MissionBeach 🌊 #exploreTNQ
Test your balancing skills like @mariadrig at this famous bendy palm tree along #MissionBeach 👣🌴 The charming #CassowaryCoast is only 2hrs south of #Cairns, where you explore the @gbrmarinepark, lush rainforest & spot a famous local #Cassowary 👀 Did someone say dreamy beachside holiday? 🙋‍♀️ #exploreTNQ
Make your next escape one by the beach for a golden hour to remember 🌅✨ Dotted along the @tropicalcoastqueensland there are a number of epic camping & caravanning spots with beachfront access, including #MissionBeach on the #CassowaryCoast ⛺️ Photo by @allthingspretty_leesh #exploreTNQ

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