Looking for things to do in Mission Beach in Queensland? This Australian beach town is well known for being home to the famous cassowaries, which can only be found in Tropical North Queensland. It’s also a place which is popular amongst backpackers, and recently more Australians as well.
Expect a small beach town in Australia that is so laid back, it’s a town without any traffic lights and plenty of hidden gems to discover. It reminded us a lot of our current home in Agnes Water, but hotter and more tropical.
Mission Beach in Australia also makes a good stopover if you’re driving from Brisbane to Cairns or on an East Coast Road Trip. We stopped here both on the way up to Cairns and on the way back!
While we visited Mission Beach during Summer in January, it still looked beautiful, even if it was a bit rainy. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Mission Beach in Queensland.
Table of Contents
Where Is Mission Beach
Mission Beach is located in Tropical North Queensland and about a 1h50m drive south of Cairns. It’s a popular stopover on an East Coast of Australia road trip after Magnetic Island as there are loads of things to do in the area.
Expect some of the best white water rafting in Australia at the nearby Tully River, the incredible swimming holes in Cardwell, the magical Hinchinbrook Island and not forgetting, you’ll want to leave early to start your road trip around Atherton Tablelands. There is so much to do in the Tablelands, you’ll need to start early in the morning to see the highlights in one day!
If you’re holidaying in Cairns, we recommend doing a day trip to Mission Beach to check out this quieter beach town.
Where To Stay In Mission Beach
With plenty of options for Mission Beach accommodation, you won’t be stuck for choices. These are our top picks for all budgets.
Backpackers: We actually considered staying at Jackaroo Treehouse because it looks so amazing!
26 Best Things To Do In Mission Beach
1. Find The Cassowaries In Mission Beach
If you’re looking to find cassowaries in the wild, you’ve come to the right place. As one of the only places in the world to see cassowaries, you’ll see so many signs on the road on the way into to town to look out for them, We actually weren’t expecting to see any to be honest, and low and behold, we bumped into a cassowary and two babies right in the middle of the road! Make sure you drive slowly in Mission Beach because you don’t want to run any over!
2. Sky Diving In Mission Beach
Sky Diving in Mission beach is one of the most popular Cairns activities. To be honest, it wouldn’t get much better than jumping out of a plane over the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll have views overlooking the beautiful Dunk Island and neighbouring islands from Mission Beach. Plus! You’ll actually land right on Mission Beach! What an experience!!
The palm trees in Mission Beach are so unique, many people come to the area to find the famous Instagram palms! As the trees grow outwards instead of upwards, this means you can easily climb up one more safely and get your photo with the stunning backdrop of the islands behind you. Just make sure you’re very careful if you’re trying to climb up the trees.
Wondering how to find the famous palm trees in Mission Beach? Go on the Ulysees Track and you’ll find them next to the path. Otherwise, you’ll find them near the Castaways Resort at the end of Pacific Parade.
4. Go For A Walk On The Kennedy Walking Track
When we asked all of the locals what are the best things to do in Mission Beach, they all said to do the Kennedy Walking Track. When you go to the end of the beach in South Mission Beach, you’ll come to the start of Kennedy Walking Track, which is a beautiful boardwalk that wraps all around the coastline.
It’s well signposted with various walking distances including the following which are all one way. Here are the Mission Beach walks to try along this track.
Lugger Bay: 1.2km / 30 minutes
Mije Creek: 2.3km / 50 minutes
Morgans Lookout: 2.7km / 60 minutes
Kennedy Bay Entrance: 3.9km / 1h55m
5. Brookes Beach
The drive down through Alexander Drive is absolutely beautiful and easily compares to the coastal drive up to Port Douglas. You’ll want to stop along the way to take some photos of the beach!
We ventured a bit further up past the beautiful Bengil Bay to find Brookes Beach. We thought it might be a hidden gem and it certainly felt like it. As a deserted beach, it’s the type of place you come to get away from the crowds.
6. Garners Beach
Just around the corner from Brookes Beach is Garners Beach. This is another hidden gem which opens up into a paradise beach we just loved. It would be an amazing beach on the lovely day hence why we’re using an image taken on a nicer day to when we visited. Just be careful and bring some mossie spray if you’re visiting in Summer like we did. We couldn’t stay long as we got smashed by them!
7. Perry Harvey Jetty
The Perry Harvey Jetty is a gorgeous little jetty for a morning or sunset walk. With clear water, you’ll be able to spot rays and turtles whilst overlooking the nearby islands.
8. Mission Beach Markets
We were lucky to visit Mission Beach Markets during our stay which is held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. Make sure you go to the acai stand for breakfast. You’ll be given a selection of fresh local fruits which you won’t find anywhere else.
9. Go Snorkelling In Coral Bay
A trip to Mission Beach wouldn’t be complete without snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef. There’s a secret snorkelling spot called Coral Bay on the Mission Beach to Bingil Bay Road. You can find out more information about snorkelling in Mission Beach here.
10. Climb Bicton Hill For The Best Lookout Views
If you’re low on time, explore the 3.9km circuit up to Bicton Hill. You’ll come to the best lookout in Mission Beach where you’ll be able to see right across the bay and out to neighbouring islands of Dunk Island and Coombe Island. This is the perfect opportunity to get your bearings and feel like you’ve seen a lot during your short stay.
11. Visit Dunk Island
Spend the day exploring Dunk Island which offers a walking track plus camping options. You can jump on an affordable water taxi (approx. $40) or a tour of the island. Or you could rent kayaks and go on your own adventure from Mission Beach.
Mission Beach Restaurants
If you’re wondering where to eat in Mission Beach, we’ve got you covered. To be honest, we were totally surprised by the eating options in the small beach town. It’s got a proper holiday vibe with outdoor restaurants and cafes and there’s even a Blues Bar to go to for drinks too. Here’s some of the best Mission Beach restaurants to choose from.
12. Bingil Bay Cafe
We loved discovering Bingil Bay Cafe which is situated in a residential area, just off the beautiful beach of Bingil Bay. The cafe is really cool with a hippy vibe and we loved the food there. Order the fish tacos and a pint of German beer! They also have live music on Friday nights too!
13. Shanti For Breakfast
If we had longer in Mission Beach, we totally would have gone to Shanti for breakfast. With healthy food options to choose from, it’s had good reviews from many people in town.
14. Beachcomber For Lunch Or Dinner
Our airbnb host told us to Beachcomber which is located at the caravan park in South Mission Beach do the best food in town. At around $15 for a meal, you can’t go wrong on the pricing. We would have eaten here if we had more time.
15. Thai Chill Restaurant
We tried to get into Thai Chill restaurant in Mission Beach but it was fully booked. We overheard the other diners saying how amazing the Thai food is. With four Thai restaurants to choose from in Mission Beach, we would have eaten here too.
16. Peppervine Italian Restaurant
Peppervine Restaurant is the best place to eat in Mission Beach according to our airbnb host. We made a beeline here for dinner and had a great evening. Although it’s an Italian restaurant, their speciality is locally caught seafood. I had the Mackeral with risotto cake and it was delicious!
17. Blues Bar
We didn’t get a chance to have a drink at Blues Bar in Mission Beach but it definitely stood out as somewhere to go for a drink! This unique bar isn’t something you’d usually find in a beach town in Australia so check it out for the novelty!
Places to Visit Near Mission Beach
It’s amazing how there are many incredible places to visit near Mission Beach. We were completely blown away by the whole of Far North Queensland. Even in the Cassowary Coast, you could easily spend a week based in Mission Beach and explore the nearby waterfalls, swimming spots, islands and so much more.
So we’re sharing some of the best places to visit in Mission Beach.
18. Paronella Park
Paronella Park in Queensland is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Queensland. If you’re driving up from Townsville, you’ll see the sign on the road advertising it hundreds of kilometres away. I have personally wanted to visit this place for a long time because it just looks so amazing.
Make the effort to check out Paronella Park in Cairns as you won’t be disappointed. It also makes a great photoshoot for the inner Instagram influencer within, with incredible backdrops of the stunning ruins in the rainforest.
We didn’t realise this but you can buy a joint pass to get into Paronella Pass and Mamu Canopy Skywalk. We ended up paying separately to get into both places only because we hadn’t actually heard of the Mamu Skywalk until we drove past it.
It’s an amazing treetop walk into the rainforest and we absolutely loved it. Expect multiple lookouts which ends with a tower lookout. We really enjoyed it and would 100% recommend going as well.
20. Crawford’s Lookout
I had seen Crawford’s Lookout on Instagram a while ago and couldn’t believe how amazing it looked. It honestly reminded me of a tropical version of the famous Horseshoe Bend in Arizona. Crawford’s Lookout is just a few minutes down the road from Mamu Skywalk and although you’ll see just a snippet of the valley, if you have a drone, fly it up there to see the views in all its glory.
21. White Water Rafting In Tully River
Go white water rafting in Tully River which is home to the best white water rafting in Australia. You can bring the whole family (kids from 6+ years) on the grade 2 and grade 3 rapids as you meander through the famous river. It’s one of those experiences you need to do when looking for the best Cairns activities.
22. Cardwell Spa Pools
About an hour south of Mission Beach is the hidden gem of Cardwell Spa Pools. We actually tried to visit twice but the river was flooded during our wet season visit (see the above right image). But if you come in the winter months, you’ll more than likely be greeted with a bright blue swimming hole, one can only dream about. It looks absolutely amazing but be prepared to share it with others as it’s a popular spot thanks to becoming big on Instagram.
23. Attie Creek Falls
Just down the road from Cardwell Spa Pool is the hidden Attie Creek Falls. As a quieter spot, it’s a 700m walk from the car park to get to this paradise of a spot.
24. Hinchinbrook Island
At Cardwell, you can also jump on the ferry to the marvellous Hinchinbrook Island. We really wanted to go but unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side. You can do a day trip with Absolute North Charters who will take you to the Insta famous Zoe Falls pool. You can drive over if you have a 4×4 but you need to make sure you book a pass to get over to the island.
Take on the famous Thornsbury Trail which is one of the best hikes in Australia and take 3-4 days of carrying your own camping equipment. Be prepared, it’s not for the faint hearted.
25. Murray Falls
50 minutes South of Mission Beach will bring you to the gorgeous Murray Falls. It’s a short walk to the falls from the car park, with more swimming spots further down the creek. To get there you have to drive on a gravel road but it’s OK for 2wd cars. Just be careful when visiting in wet season as the road might be flooded. There is a campground next to the falls as well.
26. Alligators Nest
Leaving the best hidden gem til last is the incredibly beautiful Alligators Nest swimming hole. Located less than a 30 minute drive south of Mission Beach, you’ll honestly feel like you’ve found one of the best secret swimming spots in Far North Queensland!
We couldn’t believe how beautiful Alligators Nest truly is. The clear green water is the kind of spot you could easily spend the entire day at. There are toilets and picnic benches on site so bring the whole family and enjoy being in paradise.
We hope our Mission Beach guide has helped you plan your next trip to Queensland. Let us know in the comments below of any places we’ve missed out on this list!