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Exploring Babinda Boulders & Devil’s Pool, Cairns (2023 Guide)

Exploring Babinda Boulders & Devil’s Pool, Cairns (2023 Guide)

A complete visitor’s guide to the infamous Babinda Boulders & Devil’s Pool from Cairns, Australia. Find out everything about this supposedly haunted swimming spot & how to visit it safely.

Situated in lush tropical rainforest near the township of Babinda, visitors will find the Babinda Boulders and Devil’s Pool, a beautiful landscape of clear blue pools and large, unique rock formations.

It’s no wonder why Babinda Boulders and Devil’s Pool has long been a popular swimming spot amongst locals from Cairns and Babinda.

I’ve visited the Babinda Boulders over a dozen times. In fact, it’s one of my personal favourite water holes to cool off on a steamy Far North Queensland afternoon.

In this guide, I aim to answer all of your questions surrounding both the Babinda Boulders and the more infamous Devil’s Pool. I’ve dedicated the first section of this blog post to help you get here and visit safely. But, at the bottom, you’ll also find a bunch of information that I have gathered from several sources explaining the boulders’ legend and many other things you might want to know.

Olly gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.

Quick Answer: Get to Babinda Boulders From Cairns

Unfortunately, there aren't any public transport options that run from Cairns to Babinda. That means, if you want to get here without a car, you'll need to book a tour.

Luckily, the below trip is one of the best-ranked experiences in Cairns and visits Babinda Boulders! This also visits some other beautiful natural waterfalls and rainforest areas that are a must-see in Far North Queensland.

Where is Babinda Boulders?

Babinda Boulders is a popular swimming spot located at Babinda, approximately 60 kilometres from Cairns along the A1 highway. The waterholes are fed by several fresh-flowing creeks which flow down the foothills of the Bellenden Ker Range.

The official name for this swimming hole location is Babinda Boulders. The Devil's Pool is another section a little further downstream that can be accessed via a short walk from the same car park.

So, for the purpose of this article, I'll be giving directions for Babinda Boulders and highlight how to get to Devil's Pool later in the article.

  • Google Maps Pin: "Babinda Boulders"
Map to babinda boulders from cairns

How to Get to Babinda Boulders From Cairns (Self-drive)

If you've got your own, car, you can drive to the Babinda Boulders (Devil's Pool), from Cairns. In my experience, this usually takes just under an hour, passing the iconic Walsh's Pyramid on the way. However, just keep in mind that traffic can build up to slow this drive during peak traffic times of 7-9 am and 5-6 pm just south of Cairns City.

To get here, the best way is to just plug in your directions for Babinda. It's pretty hard to go wrong. You'll take the Bruce Highway heading south towards Innisfail, where you will see a sign to exit after about 60 kilometres.

Once at Babinda, you'll drive down the main stretch, following signs for the boulders. The main road is called The Boulders Rd– just follow it all the way to the end and you will arrive at the large car park.

This car park has loads of space for plenty of cars as well as picnic, BBQ and toilet facilities.

Swimming at babinda boulders, queensland
Car in the rainforest near cairns

Car Rentals in Far North Queensland

Cairns is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia and car rentals quickly book out!

I've missed out on cars before & recommend booking well in advance. I always use DiscoverCars as they compare the widest range of rentals across dealerships in the Far North.


Related: Crystal Cascades


Babinda Boulders: What to Expect

Once you arrive at the car park, continue down -past the toilets towards the creek. Here you will find a wide, waist-deep swimming pool. This is the official swimming area for Babinda Boulders and one of the best places to cool down.

Depending on the season, you might have fast-flowing water or gentle streams. I've been here a few times now but the first time I visited in the dry season. Most of the photos on here are from that first trip where the water was shallow but deep enough for a quick swim.

The water is crystal clear, and perfect for swimming or cooling off in hot, tropical Cairns weather. I'd recommend making it at least a half-day trip from Cairns to make the most of this incredible location.

Babinda boulders drone photo
Grayl water filter bottle

Get Clean Drinking Water on Your Hike

I take the Grayl GeoPress Purifier Bottle on every hike and use it as my go-to source for filtering water all over the world. I've even used it to drink tap water in India!

Compare how the GeoPress stacks up against the best water bottle filters on the market.

Swimming at Babinda Boulders (Swimming Hole)

Truthfully, this is one of the most beautiful natural swimming spots in the region. It's commonly referred to as the Cairns rock pools, even though it's quite a stretch from town!

You'll find the deeper areas just out from the rocky shores, directly in front of you. The river downstream gets a bit shallow, so I'd recommend heading upstream if you're looking for the best places to swim at Babinda Boulders.

Babinda boulder drone photo

The Devil's Pool Track

Just to the left of the car park is a short walking track which will lead you to the Devil's Pools. The track is known as the Devil's Pool walk, an approximately 700-metre track winding up through incredible rainforest terrain typical of the wet tropics region.

Along the track, there are some excellent viewing points to watch the powerful flow of the river snake itself through the boulders. Again, the first time I visited

Swimming at devils pools, cairns

Related: Stoney Creek Falls


Exploring Devil's Pool

Firstly, I have to let you know that swimming at Devil's Pool is forbidden.

This is due to the fast-changing nature of this creek. It's fed by several tributaries on the Bellenden Kerr Range and water can take quite a while to reach this spot. As a result, it might suddenly flood with no warning!

The Devil's Pool track ends at a wooden viewing platform, with several signs warning people not to swim.

The first time I visited was in a drought-like dry season where rain hadn't fallen for weeks. I made a personal judgment call to crawl down the face and explore and photograph the Devils' Pools for you to see.

Either way, the landscape is amazing and perfect to take a few snaps or just enjoy the tranquillity of the World Heritage Listed rainforest environment.

Cairns babinda boulders

About the Devil's Pool Cliff Jump

You might have seen or heard about the famous Devil's Pool cliff jump at Babinda Boulders. Due to several deaths at the site, swimming and access to the cliff jump spot is now forbidden.

Therefore I'm leaving this information up here for educational purposes only and in no way do I recommend that you jump or swim at Devil's Pool.

However, we were fortunate to have a local show us this cliff jump location at Babinda Boulders years ago, before the restrictions.

These locals know the site well and grew up in the area surrounding Cairns. We gained access by diverting off the main track just after the first wooden river viewing platform.

Jump Height: 9 meters

Rock jump area at devils pools

The jump was definitely a little sketchy since we had to run down a steep slope to be able to clear the rocks below. The pool is eerily deep but I'm always mindful of submerged rocks or logs and I always do depth checks before jumping.

Please remember that Cairns and regional council authorities have now made swimming at Devil's Pool prohibited. I am in no way encouraging any reader to jump. River forces can be extremely unpredictable and very dangerous.

Devils pools  cliff jump babinda boulders cairns

Also Nearby: Josephine Falls Waterfall & Swimming Hole


Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay

Visiting Cairns? The best places to stay are near the Cairns Esplanade or on the sunny Northern Beaches. Below are the top 4 options for varying budgets.

Alternatively, check out my Port Douglas accommodation guide for more ideas on where to stay in Far North Queensland.

Girl sunbathing at crystalbrook riley resort in cairns

1. Crystalbrook Riley Luxury

If luxury and location are what you're after, you can't beat this 5-star resort right in the heart of Cairns Esplanade.

Fitzroy island wharf

2. Fitzroy Island Resort Mid-Range

Sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands! Staying at Fitzroy often works out cheaper than staying in town & means you get more time to explore the reef, beaches, and rainforest walking trails.

Gilligans backpacker resort

3. Gilligan's Backpackers Budget

The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns. Great place to meet like-minded travelers & features a pool, air-con rooms, a huge shared kitchen, & a great common area.

Peppers beach club four mile beach port douglas

4. Pepper's Beach Club Palm Cove

Stay at the best beach resort in the heart of Palm Cove on Cairns's Northern Beaches!

Questions About Babinda Boulders & Devil's Pool (Cairns)

This infamous swimming hole and waterfall location is riddled with controversy and unfortunate history. As promised, I've dedicated this section to hopefully answering everything you wanted to know about the site.

Are Dogs Allowed at Babinda Boulders?

No, visitors can not bring their dogs to Babinda Boulders or the Devil's Pool walking track. There are signs up at the car park entrance and at the start of the walking track.
This is a Babinda Regional Council decision as the "The Boulders Scenic Reserve" isn't technically within a National Park designation. However, the area backs onto the Wooroonooran National Park.

Can You Camp at Babinda Boulders?

Yes, you can. The locals promote themselves as belonging to an RV-friendly town.
There is actually a free campsite adjacent to the Babinda Boulders swimming hole where you can stay for up to 72 hours for nothing. Find out more information about camping at Babinda Boulders.

Can You Swim Here and if so, Where?

Yes, you can swim at Babinda Boulders. It's a very popular swimming spot for locals and visitors. The main swimming spot is signposted at the creek entrance just after the toilet blocks.
Swimming further downstream at the Devil's Pool is prohibited.

Why is Babinda Boulders and Devil's Pool so Dangerous?

The main swimming area at Babinda Boulders is fairly safe unless the creeks are flooded.
However, the creek flows much harder further downstream at the Devil's Pool. The creeks here can also flood and turn to rapids with very little warning. This is due to it being fed by many small streams on the Bellenden Kerr Range.

What About the Deaths at Babinda Boulders?

Unfortunately, 20 people have lost their lives at the Babinda Boulders site.
This number has risen even since the first time I posted this article a few years ago. Many of the deaths have an unfortunately similar story of unexpected swimmers being dragged downstream from the Devil's Pool area in fierce conditions.

Is the Babinda Boulders site Haunted?

You might have heard about the haunting of Babinda Boulders and Devil's Pool. The story stems from an aboriginal legend of a young girl dying in the Devil's Pool. I'll do my best to retell it in the section below.
It's quite an eerie story since many people have lost their lives here even in modern times.
While many people choose to believe the legend, I personally think it comes down to the fact that this area is very dangerous in flooding conditions. Combine this with the fact that thousands of people visit the pool every year and you're bound to have a few unfortunate accidents.

Swimming at babinda boulders
Babinda boulders rock pools, queensland

Why is Devil's Pools Sacred? - The Babinda Boulders Aboriginal Story

This infamous swimming spot is more than meets the eye. Long before European settlement, the local aboriginal people; the Yidinji, told a harrowing tale about the swimming holes and freshwater rapids at Babinda Boulders and Devil Pool. This "haunting" seems to have carried through to modern times and since many people have, unfortunately, met their end at this site.

The Babinda Info Centre does a great job of telling the aboriginal story about this sacred site. Below is a summary of the legend by Annie Wonga, a local Aboriginal Elder of Bunna Binda (the aboriginal name for the town).

The story describes the creation of the site long ago, when a beautiful young woman named Oolana of the Yidinji tribe cast herself into the then very calm waters of the creek in protest of an arranged marriage with Waroonoo, a tribal elder.

She did so because she had fallen in love with a visitor named Dyga. Together, they ran away together but the tribes soon caught up with them.

The moment she hit the gentle creek huge boulders came crashing down. Her screams and tears brought tremendous rapids and suddenly she disappeared, never to be seen again.

The story lives on today. Some say that they can still hear Oolana's cries calling for her lover.

The supposed site was the large pool at Devil's Pool. An eerily deep pool that sent shivers down my spine the first time I tried to swim down to check the depths.

Babinda boulders swimming hole

Planning a Trip to Cairns

Still in the planning stages of your trip to Cairns and the Tropical North? Here's a quick list of essential travel resources that I use to plan and book all my travels around the world independently.

Flights icon

Flights: Find & compare flight deals to Cairns International Airport using Skyscanner. Use the "search by month" feature to discover the cheapest day to fly.

Hotel icon

Hotels: Travelers will find the best hotel deals in Cairns and Port Douglas by booking online on Booking.com or Expedia. I recommend using the map feature to find the best places to stay.

Hostel icon

Hostels: When it comes to scoring epic deals on hostels and cheap stays your secret weapon is Hostelworld. If you're traveling to Cairns to meet people, use the “See Who's Going” function.

Travel insurance icon

Travel Insurance: HeyMondo is my top recommendation for travel insurance for Cairns and the Wet Tropics. They've got your back with comprehensive coverage, from unexpected flight hiccups to those "oops" moments. Click the link to get 5% OFF your policy.

Esim icon

Internet & Connectivity: Stay connected as soon as you land in Queensland with Airalo's eSIMS. Aussie sims will work. But if you're coming from overseas, I'd download their app and grab an eSIM before you set foot on Australian soil.

Unique experience icon

Tours & Unique Experiences: Use GetYourGuide and Viator to plan ahead and lock in those must-see experiences & tours in Cairns. So, whether you're exploring the Great Barrier Reef or the Daintree Rainforest, these two sites have got you covered.

Rental car icon

Car Rental: Don't overpay for a rental at the airport. Compare rental car prices across all dealerships in Cairns and Port Douglas. Use DiscoverCars to choose the perfect ride for your journey, whether it's a compact car or an SUV for off-road adventures.

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Transportation: Public transport is limited to the natural attractions around Cairns and its best to use tour companies or rent a car. However, if you're arriving at the airport, or need a transfer between Cairns and Port Douglas, use the popular Cairns & Port Douglas shuttle.

To learn more about independent travel to anywhere else in the world, read my ultimate step-by-step guide on how to plan a trip.

More Cairns and Far North Queensland Travel Guides

Did you enjoy this quick guide to visiting Babinda Boulders and Devil's Pool from Cairns?

If so, make sure to check out some of my other guides. I've spent a very long time exploring, documenting and photographing some of the most epic areas and attractions around Cairns and the Tropical North.

Below are a few of my favourite articles that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

Babinda boulders and devils pools cairns 1
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel blogger & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 600 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Your feedback & updates are crucial to keep my guides factual & current. Got new info or updates? Drop a comment below or contact me directly.

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I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you.

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Tuesday 16th of May 2023

You can get public transport from Cairns to Babinda.