There’s no shortage of natural beauty in tropical Queensland, and in preparation for summer, we’ve uncovered some new spots to explore. We’re venturing from the crowded coastline and heading off the beaten track for something a little more secluded.
From cascading waterfalls to crystal-clear pools with natural rock slides, here are 11 of Queensland’s best swimming holes.
Josephine Falls, Cairns
Arguably one of the most beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes in Tropical North Queensland, Josephine Falls has been featured in several TV commercials, and it’s easy to see why. The crystal clear waters and sandy beach nestled under the rainforest canopy make for a picture-perfect visit almost any time of year.
Zoe Falls, Hinchinbrook Island
Head about a kilometre upstream from the beach at Zoe Bay, and you’re in for a spectacular sight. Here, South Zoe Creek cascades dramatically over a high rock face into an almost impossibly blue pool below. Slip on in and wash away the heat of the day.
Cedar Creek Falls, Tamborine Mountain
Hidden beneath leafy green trees and surrounded by bush in Queensland’s magical hinterland, Cedar Creek runs through a series of natural pools, creating a spa-like effect when the waters are flowing fast. The view from the bottom of the waterfall is spectacular, so be sure to take a wander down with your camera.
Currumbin Rock Pools, Gold Coast
Take a short 15-minute drive from Currumbin Beach along the scenic Currumbin Creek Road, and you’ll come across something the locals probably don’t want you to know about. The Currumbin Rock Pools vary in depth, so you can splash about in the shallows or make like the big kid you are and rope swing your way to deeper waters.
Big Crystal Creek, Townsville
Tucked away in the Paluma Range National Park, about an hour north of Townsville, is something of a hidden freshwater gem: Big Crystal Creek. Drive by the campgrounds and continue past Paradise Waterhole until you hit the dirt carpark. From here, you’re on foot for about 500 metres. In return for your effort, you’ll be rewarded with smooth, natural rock slides, a magical waterfall, and glass-like waters for swimming.
Lake Eacham, North of Cairns
Lake Eacham — a 65m deep volcanic crater lake — offers visitors more than just a great swimming spot. You can bird watch, nature walk, canoe, and kayak there, too. You could even spot a curious turtle on your travels if you’re lucky.
Masons, Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation might have a reputation for being crocodile territory, but fear not, we have it on good authority that Masons swimming hole is a safe zone. It’s located on private land a couple of hundred metres behind Masons Cafe, owned by the same people who run it. For a small $1.00 donation, you can swim and enjoy the rainforest for as long as you like.
Babinda Boulders, Cairns
Just south of Cairns, you’ll find Babinda Boulders, a picturesque arrangement of freshwater swimming holes surrounded by lush rainforest. The water remains crisp on even the hottest of Queensland summer days, and the large flat boulders make for the perfect spot to sunbathe, set up a picnic, or just watch the day go by.
Cardwell Spa Pool, Cardwell
You’ll need to time your trip well to experience the teal waters of Cardwell Spa Pool in all its glory. Visit too early in the year, and it might be too dry; too late, and the rain from the wet season can cause the water to lose its Instagrammable colouring. The best time to visit is from May to September, preferably after a little rain. The stark contrast between the green of the natural bush surrounds and the bright blue water is surreal.
Tallebudgera Creek, Gold Coast
Surrounded by Burleigh Heads National Park and Palm Beach, Tallebudgera Creek is a destination well-loved by locals, known for its calm, clear waters made for paddle boarding, kayaking, or enjoying a relaxing swim. With walking trails around the creek, hidden coves to discover, barbecue and picnic facilities, and a local surf club, it’s the perfect spot for a family day out.
Booloumba Falls & Creek, Sunshine Coast
Booloumba Falls is a popular swimming destination, but you’ll need to be driving a 4WD or SUV to reach it. From the carpark, strap on your shoes and hit the trail. You’ll see several entry points to the creek as you make your way through the tall forest, but it’s worth pushing on to the lookout point. From there, make your way down the stairs to the pool below and enjoy a swim under the falls.
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Lead image: Tourism and Events Queensland