Tropical North Queensland is one of our favourite places in all of Australia. The scenery is utterly spectacular and it is definitely one of the most photogenic regions we have ever visited. All the places we have listed are within a couple of hours drive of the main hub, Cairns.
Instagrammable places near Cairns
There are so many great instagrammable spots near Cairns, so we have picked a few of our favourites for you. Happy snapping!
1. Crystal Cascades
This waterfall is surprisingly close to Cairns with just a 20 minute drive followed by a 15 minute walk, but it feels like worlds away despite being close to Cairns.
It rarely seems to get busy and has that off the beaten track vibe. It's a perfect place to cool off on a hot Queensland day, and if you can get up on that rope swing (I couldn't) then you can get an even better shot.
At the car park head left and look for the unmarked trail (there is a sign about the giant stinging trees). The waterfall is at the end of the trail once you have scrambled over a few rocks.
2. Mission Beach
This little cluster of trees is no secret so if you want to get some shots without an audience then head there at sunrise.
It’s also the most glorious light so you won’t regret the early alarm call.
The trees are located on the stretch of beach close to the Castaway Bungalows.
3. Milaa Milaa Falls
Again this is a popular spot and it’s not hard to see why. If you can brave the very cool water it really feels like you are swimming in a jungle pool (just keep facing the waterfall because behind is the car park!).
We visited this spot once at sunrise and had the place to ourselves for our entire visit. We went again at 11am and the place was heaving, you would definitely have an audience in the pool.
Milaa Milaa is located on the Waterfall Way in the Atherton Tablelands. There are a couple of car parks right by the falls.
4. Vlassof Cay
Double points if you take the helicopter and actually land on this exquisite little cay in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.
If like us that’s a little out of your budget then take one of the scenic plane flights from Cairns for a birdseye view.
The whole flight is wonderful but Vlassof Cay was the place that really caught our eye.
Vlassof Cay can be seen on a scenic flight from Cairns airport. We flew with GSL Aviation as it was a cheaper alternative to a helicopter ride, if you have the money we’d say go for a helicopter which will give you better photo ops.
Check the tide times with your chosen company in advance so they can advise you when you will see most of the reef exposed.
5. Cow Bay
As you can see in the photo we had abysmal weather on this leg of our trip but it’s still a gorgeous beach and the swing is Insta heaven.
With the right weather conditions it would make for some spectacular shots.
The swing can be found just a few minutes walk from the carpark. Take the path down to the beach and head left and you can’t miss it.
6. Ellinjaa Falls
This is another worthwhile stop on the Waterfall Way and easily combined with a visit to Milaa Milaa.
It’s a short 15 minute walk to the falls from the car park and though it is a popular spot, it’s not as busy as Milaa Milaa.
The rocks in the pool make for a great spot to grab an insta worthy photo. To get there can be a little bit slippery but well worth it.
7. Mosman Gorge
There are several spots that make for amazing photos at Mosman gorge but sadly it’s unlikely you will have this spot to yourself. It’s a gorgeous place and everybody knows about it. The first insta spot would be the large boulders which you reach on a short walking trail from the entrance. This is a popular spot for swimming, but check for conditions as it does have strong currents.
Given how busy that spot was we went looking for another and really liked this small pool on a side trail from the 2.4km Rainforest Circuit track. This was much quieter and we even had it to ourselves for a while. Perfect!
Mosman Gorge is around 1 hour 20 minute drive from Cairns and 20 minutes drive from Port Douglas.
8. Silky Oaks Lodge
The whole of Silky Oaks is very photogenic, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when taking a look around. We particularly liked the hammock down by the river.
No one else seemed to use them and it was the perfect place to relax.
The hammock is located on the river just a few minutes walk from the main lodge.
You do have to be a guest at Silky Oaks to visit this one but as it is one of our favourite places to stay in Australia we’d definitely recommend it.
Where to stay in Cairns
You can read a full & comprehensive guide of where to stay in Cairns and the surrounding areas. But for our top picks, look below.
Our Pick - Jack & Newell Holiday Apartments
We stayed at Jack & Newell's with my parents when they visited Australia and it was the perfect base for exploring Cairns. We picked a two bedroom apartment which were beautifully furnished, had a fully kitted out kitchen and living room, balconies and big spaces. It's really close to the city centre as well.
Where to stay in Mossman
Our Pick - Silky Oaks Lodge
The stunning Silky Oaks Lodge is one of our favourite places to stay in the whole of Australia. Set in a spectaular rainforest that overlooks the Mossman River, it is a haven that is incredibly relaxing. The rooms are really beautiful treehouses and the spa is just incredible. It isn't cheap, but it is worth every penny.
Where to stay in the Atherton Tablelands
Our Pick - Canopy Treehouses
Where else can you sit on a balcony and spot Platypus' while Cassowaries wander around below you? Yes, Canopy Treehouses offers this unreal experience. Set in the heart of a really small patch of rainforest, these beautiful treehouses (with their own jacuzzi baths) offer an unparalleled opportunity to see three endangered animals: platypus, cassowary and tree kangaroos. It is another of our favourite hotels in Australia and it is worth visiting the Atherton Tablelands just to stay here!
Our Camera Gear
Our brand of choice for camera gear has been Canon for many years and we love their L-Series lenses. Whilst they are heavier than some other brands, the image results are worth the additional weight. Weâ€™ve also used a few drones in our time (check out our guide to which drone to buy here) but currently own a DJI Mavic Pro.
Here’s the camera gear we use the most:
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Are you planning a trip to Cairns? Are they any spots you think we've missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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