Swimming Places Near Cairns, North Queensland, Australia
(From an unknown source)

1. Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

It’s free, it’s fun and it’s right in the heart of the city. The 4800sqm saltwater swimming pool on the Cairns foreshore is a perfect place to chill out for a few hours.

2. Crystal Cascades

This magnificent series of cool rock pools under tropical trees is tucked away in the Cairns suburb of Redlynch. Crystal Cascades is a 20-minute drive or about an hour’s bike ride from the city. From Cairns city, head north on Sheridan St and follow the signs towards Redlynch (via Stratford).

3. Lake Placid

A natural lake on the Barron River just 15 minutes from the Cairns city, Lake Placid is popular for picnicking, swimming and canoeing. There’s equipment for hire and a restaurant and bar. Head north on the Captain Cook Highway, and turn left at the Skyrail roundabout, then follow the signs.

4. Hit the beach

The major beaches in the region are Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Mission Beach, and Cairns’ northern beaches including Trinity Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach, which are all manned by lifeguards. Make sure you only swim inside the stinger nets in the stinger season (November to May) and read the latest warnings at the beach.

5. Mossman Gorge

Part of the Daintree Rainforest, Mossman Gorge is one of the region’s most photographed natural attractions and is culturally significant for the Kuku Yalanji people – and its cool water makes for a refreshing dip. To get there from Cairns or Port Douglas, head north on the Captain Cook Highway to Mossman (about an hour’s drive) then follow the signs to the gorge.

6. Lake Tinaroo

The region’s biggest lake, about an hour from Cairns, is great for swimming as well as fishing, sailing, waterskiing, canoeing and camping. From Cairns airport, drive north along the Captain Cook Highway and follow the signs to Kuranda, Mareeba, Atherton then Tinaroo. From the south side of Cairns, take the Bruce Highway to Gordonvale then the Gillies Highway.

7. Lake Eacham

A volcanic crater lake surrounded by dense rainforest, Lake Eacham is a popular picnic and swimming spot about an hour’s drive from Cairns. From Cairns, travel south on the Bruce Highway to Gordonvale, then turn on to the Gillies Highway.

8. Malanda Falls

A popular roadside stop on the Atherton Tableland, this pool at the base of Malanda Falls makes for picturesque swimming. There’s a visitor centre and rainforest walks alongside the falls, and you can continue on from here to the popular waterfall circuit drive. It’s about an hour’s drive from Cairns. Drive south on the Bruce Highway and turn on to the Gillies Highway at Gordonvale. Turn off to Malanda near Lake Eacham. The falls are just after the Malanda township.   

9. Babinda Boulders

Not only a great picnic and swimming spot, the Boulders are steeped in tradition and mystery. Local legend tells of a ghost that lures young men to their deaths in the rocky pools. Steer clear of the danger zone and stick to the safe swimming area for a fun, relaxing day. The Boulders are about an hour from Cairns. Follow the Bruce Highway south to Babinda, turn into the town, then follow the signs.

10. Josephine Falls

At the foot of Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland’s tallest mountain, Josephine Falls flows into a swimming hole, complete with natural water slide down a smooth rock face between pools. It’s about an hour south of Cairns via the Bruce Highway, and a short walk through rainforest to reach the secluded falls.