You guessed it, Palm Cove has plenty of palm trees. That much is obvious. Lining the length of the main street and the beachfront, they give this small suburb 20 minutes north of Cairns in Tropical North QLD an instant holiday mode. But what you might not have guessed is how much Palm Cove is geared towards moments that would make your heart melt. It’s a honeymooners’ dream, and here are ten reasons why:
1. Bubbles on the Beach
Forget picnics in the park. That was 2021. The Reef House has serious picnic game, hosting private Gourmet Picnics on the Beach for you and your special someone. We’re talking hurricane chairs and a low-lying table perched under a big umbrella, looking straight out at the Coral Ocean. We have the beach to ourselves, the long stretch of sand arching around to dramatic headlands that have me dreaming of Hawaii’s Hanalei Bay. There’s a bucket of ice with champagne at the ready and a decadent seafood platter that will keep you busy. Hit back oysters and fresh sashimi, add a few bumps of caviar as you dig your toes into the sand.
2. Mimosas and Chill
Locals will tell you Chill at Portofino does one of the best brunches around. The Tree Huggerdish is an all-time favourite. Avocado, mushrooms, feta, and eggs on toast go down a treat with a mimosa or two, which you can add to your meal from 11 am. No matter the time of day, the restaurant is always buzzing. Grab a table outside and catch glimpses of the sea between the trees. You won’t want to leave so let brunch roll into the afternoon.
3. Sunrise on the Sea
The ocean is glassy, tinged in shades of pink as sunrise hits the surface. We glide across the bay, sea kelp swaying just beneath the surface as our paddles cut through the water. Palm Cove Water Sports runs sunrise kayak tours out to Double Island several times a week, and on a perfect Palm Cove morning, the setting certainly puts on a show. We circle the island, paddling past untouched beaches, spotting turtles and birds starting their day, before heading back to the mainland for breakfast. It’s quiet out on the water and as the sun breaks free of the horizon, we’re basked in a golden glow that lasts long after we’re ashore.
4. A Dip for Two
The best-kept secret of Palm Cove is the Alamanda Palm Cove’s Spa Pavilions. Perched above the hotel gardens and guest rooms, the three rooftop Pavilions are aptly named Serenity, Harmony, and Tranquillity and can be booked on top of a 60-minute massage. Each retreat has its own infinity plunge pool looking straight out at the ocean so you can soak up the views from the pool or a day bed. Or both! You can order from the hotel pool menu too.
5. Raise the Sails!
On a trip to Tropical North Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef always beckons. Skip the crowds and the long sail time with a trip out to the Low Isles. Forty minutes drive north to Port Douglas and we’re soon aboard one of Sailaway’s catamarans headed out to the Low Isles. It’s a short 45-minute cruise out to the Marine National Park Zone before we’re zipping up our stinger suits for an easy snorkel around Coral Cay Island. We glide over sprawling branch coral and lazy parrotfish, counting not one, or two, but eight green turtles, before heading back to the beach. An afternoon on the boat is well spent sprawled on the top deck, drinks from the bar in hand, an excellent playlist setting the mood for a slow sail back to Port Douglas.
6. Tunes with Your Toast
There are only a few palm trees and manicured lawns between you and the beach at Nu NuRestaurant. The view doesn’t steal the show though, because the cool, laid-back venue has personality in spades. From when you walk through the large, metal-studded doors, out to the patio, past a plethora of hanging plants, it feels like you’ve walked into a tropical oasis. The tunes are on for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we settle in for stacked banana coconut pancakes that are a very good start to the day.
7. Float Away…
It’s still dark as we pick our way across a field on the Atherton Tablelands 90 minutes drive inland from Palm Cove. That is until a blast of fire lights up the air with a roar. Slowly, the billowing fabric takes flight, lifting up, up, and up into the dawning sky. The balloon is suddenly drifting above us, billowing out in all her glory. A morning flight with Cairns Hot Air Balloon is full of the marvel that comes from silently floating 400 metres off the ground and the fun of a crew who aren’t afraid to throw out a dad joke this early in the morning. We peer down at orderly rows of orchards – mango, lime, stone fruit trees all neatly arrayed – before descending down to bubbles and a toast.
8. Bliss Out
Pampering is the name of the game in Palm Cove. You’ll find plenty of spas to choose from, with all manner of massages, facials, and beauty treatments on offer. I spend a blissed-out afternoon sequestered away in the Paradise Day Spa at Peppers Beach Club and Spa with a decadent massage and facial that has me feeling like I’ve spent a week on a tropical island taking long afternoon naps.
9. Walk on the Beach
Bells and whistles aside, this is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand you’ll find and it’s right there for the taking. Morning, noon, and night, a walk along Palm Cove’s beach hand in hand with your honey is the perfect kind of honeymoon moment. Early in the morning expect to pass locals out with their dogs, but there’s plenty of beach to share so you’ll usually have the sand to yourselves.
10. Get Decadent at the Temple of Tastes
Forget the box of chocolates, the dessert menu at Temple of Tastes Restaurant, located at the Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple, is truly swoon-worthy. The award-winning restaurant is well known for Southeast Asian-inspired Australian fare, so start your evening with the likes of pan-seared scallops with mango lime salsa and halloumi with spiced eggplant puree, but save room for dessert. We dive straight into a Snickers Bar – peanut butter parfait with a thick chocolate layer and a decadent chocolate mousse – and scrape the plate clean. There are no regrets.
Whether you’re an adventurous couple, a blissed-out couple, foodies, or fly and flop types, you’ll find Palm Cove has a honeymoon to suit you.
About Lisa Perkovic: Lisa has spent the past decade travelling the world writing for Australia’s leading newspapers, magazines, and blogs about all things travel. Her own honeymoon was her pièce de résistance – an epic journey to the Maldives and South Africa. Now she loves nothing more than sharing destinations and tips to help other newlyweds work out how to have the honeymoon of their dreams.