My favourite Cairns waterfalls

If there’s one thing I miss about living in Cairns, it has to be cooling off in a waterfall on a humid day. In Tropical North Queensland you’re spoilt for choice with how many beautiful waterfalls are located nearby! You’re never more than 15 minutes drive from some amazing waterfall surrounded by rainforest – it really is paradise.

I spent much of my time in Cairns exploring new waterfalls and I definitely found some that stood out. If you’re planning a trip to Cairns then you definitely need to put a few of these on your to-do list.

Josephine Falls

My number one favourite! These falls are comprised of three pools and you can only swim in the middle section, heed the warning signs. The reason I love Josephine is because the water cascades over a smooth rock, forming a perfect natural slide. You can spend hours splashing about and sliding down. The walk to the falls is through beautiful native rainforest, and is almost as pretty as the waterfall itself! Almost.

Josephine falls long exposure waterfall cairns tropical north queensland

Millaa Millaa Falls

One of the most famous waterfalls in the region, Millaa Millaa was the setting of a shampoo commercial a while back. I always say that the falls look as though you asked a child to draw a waterfall. It’s a single drop, surrounded by greenery and falling into a perfect round pool. The best thing though is swimming behind the falls, sitting on a rock and watching the water cascade down from above. Magic!

Floating at millaa millaa waterfall cairns tropical north queensland

Nandroya Falls

If you want to beat the crowds without compromising on beauty then Nandroya should be your top pick! It’s harder to access than most and you find that many are put off by the 2.5km round hike. But plod your way through the rainforest and you’ll find a single drop waterfall emerging from a crack in the rock, and falling 50 metres to the pool below.

Nandroya falls waterfall cairns tropical north queensland

Fairy Falls

This spot used to be a total hidden gem until word got out on social media – now it’s incredibly popular! It’s an almost hidden waterfall surrounded by rocks and you can’t see how big it is until you’re in the plunge pool. As you swim towards the falls itself you feel like you’ve been wrapped in a giant mossy rock. If it’s not too busy then you can almost feel as though you have the whole rainforest to yourself.

fairy falls waterfall cairns tropical north queensland male swing

Stoney Creek Falls

These falls are famous because you travel past their top half on the Kuranda scenic train. It’s one of the most iconic Cairns things to do – sit in the historical train carriage inches from the falling water. Getting to the bottom is a little tricker and involves some slightly illegal activities like walking along the train tracks. I’ve seen pictures though – and it looks amazing, so weigh up your need to explore with a potential $2,000 fine!

stoney creek falls waterfall cairns tropical north queensland kuranda scenic train

Dinner Falls

Tucked away in the Mt Hypipamee national park you’ll find far few visitors to these falls. There is the option to swim, although I recommend walking further around and exploring the upper parts of the falls. Some of the smaller falls are just as beautiful!

dinner falls waterfall cairns tropical north queensland

Barron Falls

Without a doubt the most impressive waterfall in the area – purely based on sheer size – the Barron falls is a staggering 125 metres high and 259 metres wide! There’s a hydro power station that reroutes most of it’s water and so if you want to see the falls in full flow you need to plan a visit in our wet season. When we’ve had a lot of rain the power of the falls is just astonishing. As you stand on the lookout the roaring seems to shake the platform floor beneath you.

barron falls full flow waterfall cairns tropical north queensland


Ellinjaa Falls

This lovely spot is well worth the short hike down (and longer hike up!). The water cascades over a series of lava columns into a shallow pool that looks inviting – but isn’t really deep enough for swimming. There are plenty of rocks and shady areas, and it’s a lovely place to stop for a picnic lunch.

waterfall cairns tropical north queensland

Crystal Cascades

This is the most popular spot to cool off, located close to the city and easily accessible on foot. The cascades are a multitude of different pools and falls that run for a few km, so you can sometimes bag yourself a secluded spot! Follow the path as far as you can to see the waterfall itself which is a great place to swim and jump.

waterfall cairns tropical north queensland crystal cascades

Kearney Falls

Located near one of my favourite camping spots, these falls are a must if you’d prefer to enjoy your waterfall with no one else around. I’ve only ever visited in the dry season but I hear that during the big wet the large rock face is covered in water – now that would be an impressive sight!

Kearney falls goldsborough valley waterfall cairns tropical north queensland

Have you ever been to Cairns? Are there waterfalls that you’d recommend adding to this list? Let me know!

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