What Are The Best Waterfalls to Visit Near Cairns?
Updated Tue 26 Sep 2023
18 BEST WATERFALLS TO VISIT NEAR CAIRNS
Tucked away in the mighty mountain ranges and lush tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland is an absolute treasure trove of extraordinary waterfalls — all within a day’s trip from Cairns! Discover extraordinary circuits of gentle streams that flow into powerful, crashing falls, or bathe in the restorative natural plunge pools.
We can’t think of a better way to spend a day on your tropical vacation than lolling around in the pristine blue pools or soaking up the sun on the warm and unique rock formations surrounding them. Not to mention, these Cairns waterfall adventures are rife with Insta-moments sure to be the crowning glory of all of your friends’ feeds. You might even spy unique Australian wildlife like kangaroos, platypus, and cassowaries along the way.
Our comprehensive list will help you explore the most beautiful waterfalls near Cairns. These are all easily reached on a day trip from Cairns, and you can even visit many falls in the same day! However, public transport is limited so you'll need to hire a car or book a waterfall tour!
Check out our most popular Cairns waterfall tours!
THE 18 BEST WATERFALLS NEAR CAIRNS
Check out our comprehensive list of 18 dreamy waterfall wonderlands, all less than two hours drive from Cairns’ CBD!
1. Old Weir Falls at Stoney Creek
- 15 km (20 mins) from Cairns
Follow the dirt track that leads straight on from where the concrete footbridge forks for 20 minutes until you reach Old Weir Falls. It's one of the best and closest waterfalls near Cairns.
- 19 km (25 mins) from Cairns
Nestled in a lush rainforest less than half an hour out of Cairns, Crystal Cascades is a series of beautiful secluded waterfalls and soothing swimming holes scattered along Freshwater Creek, all culminating in a collection of cascading falls at the end of the track called Wongalee Falls. Crystal Cascades is one of the more popular swimming holes near Cairns, and definitely the closest!
- 19 km (25 mins) from Cairns
Accessed from the Crystal Cascades car park, Fairy Falls is a lesser-known secret tucked just 15 minutes down a dirt track shrouded in thick, lush rainforest foliage. There’s no official signage or footpath to this hidden gem, which lends an adventurous thrill to discovering it — like stumbling upon a secret paradise you get to keep all to yourself.
Enjoy everything Crystal Cascades has to offer at Fairy Falls, without the crowds!
4. Behana Gorge
- 34 km (37 mins) from Cairns
Behana Gorge is home to a few stunning waterfalls! This location is also a great place for water sports like river rafting, canyoning, and hiking.
- 31 km (40 mins) from Cairns
Located in the renowned Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Barron Falls boasts some of the most magnificent and mammoth falls in the region, and whilst you can't swim here, the breathtaking view alone is worth the visit. Barron is home to a diverse ecosystem of vibrant butterflies, long-tailed pygmy-possums, Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos, platypus, short-beaked echidnas, spectacled flying foxes and striped possums.
Visitors will cop the best views from the Kuranda Scenic Railway and the Skyrail gondolas.
6. Hartley's Creek Falls
- 42 km (42 mins) from Cairns
Hartley's Creek Falls is at the end of a 3.8 km track with a bounty of refreshing swimming holes and a rope swing to discover along the way. This is a great place to escape the tropical heat in Cairns!
7. Spring Creek Falls
- 57 km (55 mins) from Cairns
This is another one of the best waterfalls near Cairns! There's no beaten path for Spring Creek Falls, simply rock-hop and bumslide your way upstream for about 1 - 2 hours until you reach your reward.
8. Davies Creek Falls
- 57 km (1 hour) from Cairns
Davies Creek Falls' features a natural infinity pool with expansive views of mountains covered in gorgeous forests of eucalyptus. This majestic wonder is home to the Bulwai people of the Djabugay clan and rock paintings as old as the Egyptian pyramids (over 3,500 years old!) can be found on the Bulwai Rock Art Trail nearby.
- 65 km (1 hour) from Cairns
One of Babinda Boulders' main attractions is Devil's Pool, named for its treacherous and deep channels of water that flow between the large granite boulders and have claimed many lives. Indigenous legends say a heartbroken spirit by the name of Oolana haunts the pool and lures young men to untimely deaths. See if you can feel her presence on our Babinda day trip.
Image source: Wikipedia
- 75 km (1 hour 10 mins) from Cairns
With crystal-clear waters and postcard-perfect scenery, a road trip to Josephine Falls is a must-add to your Cairns itinerary. Make your way up the rocks and try your hand at the natural granite waterslide — the smooth rock and crisp pool make for a fun ride that will have you going back for more!
Josephine Falls and the Bartle Frere region behold generations-old knowledge and management from the traditional custodians, the Noongyanbudda Ngadjon Aboriginal people, who maintain a close continuing spiritual connection to the area today.
11. Emerald Creek Falls
- 72 km (1 hour 15 mins) from Cairns
Emerald Creek Falls is a multilevel waterfall that gradually cascades from lush rainforest into a beguiling and iconically Australian eucalypt woodland. There are so many swimming holes to discover here, each with its own unique surroundings.
Image source: Pinterest
12. Vision Falls, Lake Eacham
- 66 km (1 hour 15 mins) from Cairns
Vision Falls is walking distance from Lake Eacham, a stunning crater lake in the Atherton Tablelands. It's one of the coolest waterfalls to visit near Cairns, so try to visit both in one amazing day!
13. Mena Creek Falls
- 108 km (1 hour 30 mins) from Cairns
Whilst there's no swimming at Mena Creek Falls, the gorgeous surrounding parklands and endless beauty of the water running over seven-million-year-old basalt rock will make it worth your while. Head to Mena Creek at night to see the falls lit up, too!
14. Windin Falls
- 87 km (1 hour 35 mins) from Cairns
If you liked Davies Creek Falls you'll love Windin Falls, which also features a natural infinity pool with unparalleled views of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
15. Pepina Falls
- 106 km (1 hour 45 mins) from Cairns
Pepina Falls is a mere 15 minutes from beautiful Millaa Millaa Falls, and would make for a great follow-up splash.
16. Little Millstream Falls
- 119 km (1 hour 50 mins) from Cairns
Little Millstream is the little sister of Big Millstream, which boasts the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia. It's another one of the best waterfalls to visit near Cairns!
- 110 km (1 hour 55 mins) from Cairns
A lesser-known gem tucked away in the heights of Far North Queensland’s Atherton Tabletops, Souita Falls is actually a duo of waterfalls set about 70 metres apart, making for a nice breezy stroll from fall to fall. Seeing the best of Souita won’t chew up too much of your time, so to make the most of your visit we recommend seeing them in tandem with Millaa Millaa and Windin.
Souita is at its most enchanting after Tropical North Queensland's wet season.
- 100 km (1 hour 45 mins) from Cairns
Last but not least on our list of the best waterfalls near Cairns is Millaa Millaa Falls! This iconic waterfall is featured on most waterfall tours, and it's easy to combine with other nearby waterfalls on an epic day trip!
WHAT TO BRING TO CAIRNS WATERFALLS
Before you set out on your journey to visit the best Cairns waterfalls, let’s make sure you’ve got everything you need to make this a trip to remember!
- The UV levels in Queensland are high all year round, which puts your skin and eyes at more risk of sun damage. Even just 15 minutes of sun can cause sunburn. Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap with an SPF50+ sunscreen.
- A broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a lightweight long-sleeve shirt are also essential for keeping sun damage at bay.
Sustenance and Survival
- Stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle. We recommend the stainless steel variety as opposed to plastic. Not only are the chemicals in plastic water bottles bad for our bodies, they’re also bad for the beautiful rainforests and wildlife in Far North Queensland.
- A first-aid kit with the essentials: bandages, rubbing alcohol, gauze, tweezers.
- Snacks! Just remember to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but cute pics for Instagram. In other words, return any packaging or rubbish to your daypack.
- There’s no such thing as inappropriate weather, only inappropriate clothing. Dress accordingly and you’ll be prepared for anything!
- Cargo pants are great for keeping leaches and mosquitos at bay, they also protect your legs from any scratchy plants that might line the tracks to the waterfalls. Their multitude of pockets are an obvious bonus.
- Rain jackets and ponchos are an easy oversight. Even if you’re going swimming, a poncho will keep you dry from any wet weather on the trek back to the car. Alternately, they’re useful for covering non-waterproof backpacks.
- Reliable walking shoes or hiking boots, and water shoes (to protect your precious tootsies from any sharp rocks or sticks).
- We also suggest long socks to protect your ankles from any leaches that may be lurking along walking tracks. Wool socks are best as they absorb moisture and help prevent blistering.
Chat to our friendly travel experts for more guidance on your search for Far North Queensland’s best and most beautiful waterfalls.