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33 Best Waterfalls in Cairns: Complete Guide + Map

33 Best Waterfalls in Cairns: Complete Guide + Map

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Here are 33 amazing waterfalls in Cairns and the nearby Atherton Tablelands that you can visit on your trip to Far North Queensland.

Cairns, nestled amidst the expanse of the World Heritage Listed Wet Tropics region and shadowed by the majestic, rainforest-clad Macalister Range, is a gateway to an array of epic waterfalls.

I’ve visited dozens of waterfalls in the region and have documented each one on this blog. In this guide, I’ll reveal the best waterfalls in Cairns and the surrounding region. From refreshing freshwater swimming holes like the Crystal Cascades to megalithic giants like Nandroya Falls, there’s a waterfall for everyone!

Tip: You can visit all of these waterfalls if you have your own transport and base yourself in Cairns or Port Douglas. However, many are located in the nearby Atherton Tablelands and require a further drive or day trip to reach. Furthermore, some waterfalls require a hike in with varying difficulties.

Cairns Waterfall Map

Below is a helpful Cairns waterfall map with all the cascades mentioned in this blog post pinned into colour groups based on their location from Cairns. These include:

  • Green: Port Douglas
  • Yellow: Close to Cairns Town
  • Blue: Tablelands
  • Red: South of Cairns

This should help you plan day trips and itineraries for chasing all of these waterfalls in Tropical North Queensland. Keep reading for the full list!

Cairns waterfall map

Waterfall tip: Click on the Cairns waterfall map above and it will load on your Google Maps app. You can save it by clicking the grey star at the top, which will add it to "Your Places" on your Google Maps account. This way, you have a handy digital app on the go with all the waterfall locations pinned– just refer back to this article (or bookmark it) for the explanations!

Waterfall Trips From Cairns

Basing yourself in Cairns and want to visit as many epic waterfalls as possible on a day trip? Below is a list of my favorite waterfall tours that you can book in advance.

Josephine falls waterfall rock slide

1. Tablelands Waterfall Wilderness Tour Top Pick

Explore Atherton Tableland's majestic waterfalls & rainforest, visiting some of my favourites including Millaa Millaa & Josephine Falls.

Crystal cascades waterfall and swimming hole near cairns

2. Epic Waterfall Canyoning Trip

An epic canyoning & zip-line tour out of Cairns through Behana Gorge or the popular Crystal Canyons (Crystal Cascades).

Millaa millaa waterfall

3. Comprehensive Tablelands Waterfall Tour Budget

A comprehensive and cost-effective World Heritage Daintree Rainforest tour to Josephine Falls, Dinner Falls, and Millaa Millaa.

Waterfalls Near Cairns

1. Barron Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 30 km
  • Height: 125 m
  • Swimming: No

Barron Falls is one of the largest waterfalls near Cairns, with over 125 meters of cascading water forcing its way down the deep Barron Gorge.

Located near Kuranda, Barron Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Wet Tropics Area due to its might and ease of access.

I've visited this waterfall at least a dozen times, and have always had a different experience depending on how much rain there's been. This varies A LOT by season.

However, to see this waterfall in full force, I recommend visiting in the wet season if you have the choice. Otherwise, while the wet season might produce a more powerful waterfall, I'd still recommend a visit in the drier months too because the lookout over the gorge is spectacular.

To make the most of this experience, you might want to book a complete self-guided day tour via the Skyrail & Cairns Scenic Rail in the link above. This includes pickup, a ticket to the Scenic Railway and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which takes you to what I consider the best views of Barron Falls at the Edge Lookout.

Kuranda scenic rail, the edge lookout over barron falls
Barron falls from the edge lookout
Barron falls in the wet season
Visiting Barron Falls in the wet season is an amazing experience

2. The Crystal Cascades

  • Distance from Cairns: 18 km
  • Height: Varied, series of cascades
  • Swimming: Yes

In terms of distance to Cairns, Crystal Cascades is one of the closest on my list. This is one of the first waterfalls that I visited when I first got to Cairns in 2020 and I still visit every time I come back for a quick swim.

At the end of a short sealed walk, you'll find a decently-sized waterfall with a deep swimming hole. Several spots on the trail allow access to more swimming spots in the creek.

Apparently, this waterfall and creek swimming location used to be a fairly well-kept secret. However, I've always seen it pretty busy. I'd say this is still one of the most popular waterfalls near Cairns.

To get here, it's only a short 30-minute drive from Cairns CBD. If it's a quick freshwater swim you're looking for, then this might be a good choice for you.

Crystal cascades cairns waterfalls, swimming hole near cairns
The Crystal Cascades waterfall

3. Fairy Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 18 km (near Crystal Cascades)
  • Height: 5 m
  • Swimming: Yes

If you decide to make the short trip to Crystal Cascades, then you might be glad to know that there's another hidden waterfall just around the corner.

I was told about Fairy Falls by a local when I asked what the small, unmarked trail leading out from the Crystal Cascades parking area was. It might not be the biggest waterfall in Cairns, but it's still a pretty epic little cascade that's great for escaping the crowds, since not many people know about it!

The pool underneath this narrow waterfall is also deep enough to swim. This is perfect if you want to relax at your own private waterfall oasis.

Fairy falls in cairns
Fairy Falls Waterfall

4. Old Weir Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 15 km
  • Height: 5-6 m
  • Swimming: Yes, along the creek & waterfall

Stoney Creek is an easily accessible swimming hole and waterfall track that is a favourite amongst Cairns locals.

Although the waterfalls here aren't the most spectacular, they're only a 20-minute drive from Cairns! This means that visiting Stoney Creek is perfect if you're looking for a place to cool down in the rainforest.

There is a wide and deep swimming hole only 5 minutes from the car park. However, it's also possible to continue for roughly 25 minutes up the sealed rainforest track to Old Weir Falls, a larger and more impressive waterfall.

Old weir falls at stoney creek, cairns
Old weir falls

5. Stoney Creek Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 16 km
  • Height: 30 m+
  • Swimming: Yes

Further up along Stoney Creek is the famous waterfall flowing behind the Scenic Rail up on the Smith's Track near Kuranda– Stoney Creek Falls.

Getting to this waterfall involves taking the short track along the Glacier Rock trail and then darting into the rainforest and rock hopping your way up to the ridge along the Scenic Rail tracks.

At the top, you'll see a huge, multi-tiered waterfall flowing behind the railway tracks. There's a deep pool at the bottom of the falls for swimming. After our visit, we decided to explore the creek, heading down off the trail where we found 5 more small unnamed cascades!

Stoney creek falls near cairns

6. Isabella Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 17 km
  • Height: Approx. 50 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Isabella Falls is a secret little waterfall hidden at the back of a local Cairns suburb called Edmonton.

A short, 20-minute rainforest track leads to a tall and secluded waterfall halfway up the mountain adjacent to Edmonton.

This one took a bit of root scrambling to reach the top, but it was well worth it since it was so close to town! Along the way, I found several stops at swimming holes and smaller, cascading waterfalls too.

Update: Unfortunately, tragic deaths have occurred at this waterfall. Remember, you and only you are responsible for your safety. Respect nature, monitor conditions and don't underestimate the slippery nature of waterfalls in the Far North Queensland region.

Isabella falls cairns qld
Top-level at Isabella Falls

7. Clamshell Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 38 km
  • Height: Multiple cascades
  • Swimming: Yes

Clamshell Falls is a waterfall located at the end of the Behana Gorge Waterfall Track in the Wooroonooran National Park just south of Cairns. The walking track follows a large catchment water pipe along sealed ground.

The Behana Gorge is very scenic with plenty of photo-worthy lookouts along the way.

The main waterfall, Clamshell Falls, is located right next to the Behana Gorge catchment, which supplies water to many Cairns suburbs. Don't worry though, you can still get to the waterfall and swim in the many natural rock pools along the way. Only the main catchment area is fenced off.

Clamshell falls cairns
Clamshell Falls

8. Babinda Boulders and Devils Pools

  • Distance from Cairns: 65 km
  • Height: Various small cascades
  • Swimming: Yes at Babinda Boulders, No at Devils Pools

While not technically a typical waterfall destination, I've included Babinda Boulders & Devil's Pools on this list because they offer another excellent freshwater swimming location with a small cascade near Cairns.

While it's mostly considered a creek, Devils Pools also has a small waterfall, fed by the fast-flowing waters from the Bellenden Ker Range's foothills.

Babinda Boulders has beautiful, clear-flowing waters surrounded by tropical rainforest trees and plants. While Babinda Boulders is a popular swimming spot, many advise against swimming at Devil's Pools since several deaths have unfortunately occurred here.

Babinda boulders, devils pools, babinda cairns, swimming near cairns, cairns attractions, things to do,
Devils Pools near Babinda Boulders

9. Josephine Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 75 km
  • Height: Series of cascades, main drop at least 10 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Next up on the list of the top waterfalls in Cairns for swimming and is definitely one of my personal favourites; Josephine Falls.

This waterfall is located closer to Innisfail, approximately an hour's drive from Cairns. The car park location is also the start of the Mount Bartle Frere track, which leads to the top of the tallest mountain in Queensland.

Josephine Falls cascades down the Bartle Frere Range in the Wooroonooran National Park. It's a decent-sized waterfall that flows into a large circular freshwater pool.

This waterfall is quite popular thanks to its cool natural waterfall slide and deep swimming holes. It's also very easy to access via a short walk from the car park. I recommend visiting early, or avoiding weekends, since this one can get packed, especially on a hot day!

What's really great about this waterfall is that it has the best and clearest freshwater swimming areas near Cairns.

Josephine falls rainforest swimming hole
Josephine falls, wooroonooran national park
Josephine Falls

10. Millaa Millaa Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 100 km
  • Height: 18 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Millaa Millaa Falls is probably on the top of most lists of the top waterfalls in Cairns. It's certainly a very popular waterfall and lives up to that fame too.

The single-drop, plunging waterfall lies in a hidden rainforest oasis that really makes it feel like it belongs in a fairytale. This waterfall is located on the "Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit, which also includes two other impressive falls (below).

Millaa Millaa Falls is known as the most photographed waterfall in Australia. It's even been featured in a few historic advertisements.

I've nicknamed it the perfectionist's waterfall. It looks as if the plunging water maintains a completely symmetrical shape as it gushes into the deep, round freshwater pool below.

To get to Millaa Millaa Falls, you'll need to drive approximately an hour and a half from Cairns. While it might seem like a long drive, I'd definitely recommend the visit as it's truly one of the Far North's most epic locations.

Best Price Online: Bus Tour to Millaa Millaa

Milla milla falls, best waterfalls in cairns things to do in cairns
Millaa Millaa Falls

11. Zillie Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 102 km
  • Height: Approx. 30 m
  • Swimming: No

Zillie Falls is only a few minutes' drive from Millaa Millaa Falls and part of the Millaa MIllaa Waterfall Circuit on Theresa Creek Road.

Although very impressive, this waterfall is much less visited than Millaa Millaa. This means that if big crowds aren't your scene, you could always head down the road to Zillie Falls. Every time I've come here, I've had the entire waterfall to myself!

Another single-drop fall, this waterfall gushes dramatically off the edge of a steep, eroded basalt column onto large boulders below. There is a viewing platform above the falls, as well as a "secret" track which leads to the base for a better vantage point.

Zillie falls millaa millaa queensland
Zillie Falls

12. Ellinjaa Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 104 km
  • Height: 10-15 m
  • Swimming: Yes, at the base

Ellinjaa Falls is the last of the Millaa Millaa waterfall trio. This one is in my opinion, the most beautiful and one where the balance of nature and man-made development has met a good medium.

Requiring another very short, but scenic walk along a sealed track, Ellinjaa is a dramatic, cascading waterfall that flows down a wide basalt column into a reasonably wide freshwater pool.

There is also a ledge behind Ellinjaa Falls which you can climb onto to sit behind the falls.

I've noticed that Ellinjaa is a little more popular than Zillie, but still nowhere near as crowded as Millaa Millaa Falls.

Ellinjaa falls waterfall milla milla queensland
Ellinjaa Falls

13. Nandroya Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 120 km
  • Height: 50 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Nandroya Falls has to be one of the best waterfalls in Cairns in terms of natural beauty. A trip to Nandroya Falls will offer an incredible rainforest hike as well as two incredible waterfalls in one trip.

Nandroya Falls is located in the Wooroonooran National Park, approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes from Cairns CBD. After a very scenic 40-minute walk through parts of the oldest rainforest in the world, there's a large clearing with an impressive 50-meter spouting waterfall.

Nandroya also has a lower, wider level where you can swim or snap some photos.

If you're planning to head to Millaa Millaa Falls, then a trip to Nandroya Falls is just around the corner. I recommend visiting Millaa Millaa early to beat the crowds, then make a trip to Nandroya on the way back through the National Park.

Nandroya falls, waterfalls in cairns, wooroonooran national park waterfalls
Nandroya Falls
Nandroya falls

14. Silver Creek Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 120 km
  • Height: 6 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Silver Creek Falls isn't the most spectacular out of all these epic Cairns waterfalls. However, I'll include it on the list because you'll get to see it if you visit Nandroya Falls.

Hikers will find Silver Creek Falls roughly halfway on the Nandroya Falls trail. It's a small waterfall flowing from Silver Creek and plunging into a small, shallow freshwater pool.

You can't swim at this one, but it's worthy of a couple of photos, at least.

Silver falls. Silver creek falls at nandroya falls, wooroonooran national park, cairns
Silver Creek Falls

15. Tchupala Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 122 km
  • Height: 15 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Located around the bend from the Nandroya Falls hike is a pair of incredible waterfalls called Tchupala Falls & Wallicher Falls in the Wooroonooran National Park. The first is Tchupala Falls, which is actually a series of three large waterfall levels.

The Tchupala Falls track is a little shorter than Nandroya Falls, and shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes to hike to. Unfortunately, the lower levels have been closed due to being classed as too dangerous.

Tchupala falls, waterfalls in cairns, best cairns falls, cairns attractions, to do
Tchupala Falls Upper Level

16. Wallicher Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: Near Tchupala
  • Height: 10 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Wallicher Falls is another large cascading waterfall flowing in the same section of the Wooroonooran National Park. In fact, the trail to Wallicher Falls begins at the same location as Tchupala Falls.

The walk to Wallicher Falls takes roughly 20 minutes. At the end, there is a main boarded viewing platform opposite the waterfall. This will offer the best views of the falls as after this, the trail continues down to the creek source, where you can't see the main waterfall.

This waterfall is quite wide and can have some serious power in the wet season. However, Wallicher Falls isn't quite as impressive as Tchupala Falls. That said, I'd it is certainly worth checking out, especially since they're so close together.

Wallicher falls, wallicher waterfall near cairns, cairns waterfalls, cairns attractions, things to do
Wallicher Falls

17. Mungalli Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 130 km
  • Height: 75 meters (two-tiered)
  • Swimming: Not recommended

Mungalli Falls is another great waterfall in the Atherton Tablelands, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes from Cairns. There are two levels to explore, with the tallest having a 75-meter cumulative drop down a steep rock face.

This waterfall is unique because it's actually located within an outdoor Wilderness Retreat Complex.  Luckily, the company welcomes guests to come and check out the waterfall for free.

Mungalli isn't the best waterfall for swimming. Instead, it's a popular place to spot wildlife. The park staff even told us that you could sometimes see glow worms at the base. Apparently, if you're lucky, you might also spot a wild platypus near the waterfall or further down the creek.

Mungali falls
Mungalli Falls

18. Cannabullen Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 130 km
  • Height: 70 meters
  • Swimming: Along the creek only

Cannabullen Falls is an epic 70-metre waterfall located deep in the Misty Mountains of the Wooroonooran National Park. Getting here requires a bit of a drive and a long hike. However, let me tell you that the view from the top of the waterfall is absolutely worth it!

Also, to add to the reward after the long journey, there are several impressive cascades just behind Cannabullen Falls waterfall to check out too.

I've climbed to the top of this waterfall (information on the link above), but it is also possible to reach the base via a separate hiking trail.

Overlooking cannabullen falls in far north queensland
Top of Cannabullen Falls

19. Tully Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 140 km
  • Height: Once massive, now often a trickle due to dam
  • Swimming: No

Once upon a time, Tully Falls was one of Queensland's largest waterfalls and a true Queensland icon. However, due to the upstream damming of the river, the once-mighty Tully Falls has been reduced to a mere trickle.

However, don't let this dissuade you from embarking on the long trip from Cairns. The Tully Gorge lookout atop where the falls once ran is now one of the most beautiful gorge lookouts in Australia.

Tully gorge lookout cairns
Tully Gorge Lookout

20. Dinner Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 95 km
  • Height: 10 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Dinner Falls is a multi-tiered waterfall that sits high on the Tablelands at 900 m above sea level, which is pretty high for Queensland! You'll find this small cascade after a short loop hike in the Mount Hypipamee National Park.

Dinner Falls is a great waterfall if you're chasing a quick swim and a short walk. As a bonus, you'll also get to check out "The Crater", a remarkable volcanic diatreme with a natural crater pool that is over 70 m deep!

Dinner falls cairns, waterfall circuit loop
Dinner Falls

21. Emerald Creek Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 70 km
  • Height: Approx. 30 m
  • Swimming: Yes

On the other side of the thick Wet Tropics National Parks, you'll find some more epic Cairns waterfalls and Emerald Creek Falls is one of the best if you want a deep swimming hole.

Compared to the other waterfalls on this list, Emerald Creek Falls differs in terms of scenery and flora. Instead of a dense, wet rainforest, you'll find a drier landscape with small pockets of tropical trees and ferns.

Emerald Creek Falls has an upper cascading level and a lower plunging waterfall which falls into a deep swimming hole. There are also many more swimming holes a little further down, making it one of the best for getting a quick swim in.

Getting here is pretty straightforward and involves a short but scenic walk up to the main swimming area and waterfall. However, Google Maps tends to take people down the wrong road. Therefore, I'd recommend reading my full blog post linked above for exact directions and to avoid getting lost like I did the first time.

Emerald creek falls main waterfall and swimming area
Emerald Creek Falls

22. Davies Creek Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 56 km
  • Height: 75 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Davies Creek Falls is another waterfall close by to Emerald Creek Falls. This is one of the larger waterfalls, with a cumulative drop of up to 75 metres into the deep gorge in the Davies Creek and Dinden National Park. There are several viewing areas, and you can even walk down to the top of the waterfall to enjoy the view from above.

There are also a few great swimming holes just further upstream from the waterfall. However, you'll need to monitor conditions as they can change pretty quickly in heavy downpours.

Nearby to Davies Creek Falls, you'll also find some quick circuit tracks and walks including the epic Kahlpahlim Rock hike. If you're looking to explore the best waterfalls in Cairns on the other side of Cairns and closer to the Atherton Tablelands, then a day trip to Davies Creek Falls and Emerald Creek Falls is a great option.

Davies creek falls viewpoint
Davies Creek Falls Top Viewpoint

23. Malanda Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 75 km
  • Height: 4 meters
  • Swimming: Yes

Located on the outskirts of the quaint, Malanda Village near the popular Curtain Fig Tree is a popular waterfall and swimming area that is very popular with locals. Malanda Falls flows from the North Johnstone River over basalt rock which was formed by lava from the Mount Hypipamee area, just a few kilometres away.

The waterfall itself is a wide, plunging waterfall that tumbles into a deep, man-made swimming pool.

This is one of the most artificial freshwater swimming spots and waterfalls in Cairns and the surrounding Tablelands.

However, the surrounding rainforest and delicate charm of Malanda Village make it seem like more of a hidden, local gem than a commercial establishment. In fact, swimming here is free, and you'll often find many locals and visitors basking on the pool edges and admiring the waterfall.

Malanda falls waterfall
Malanda Falls

24. Windin Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 86 km
  • Height: 100 m+
  • Swimming: Yes (only in the right conditions)

Perhaps one of the most "insta-worthy" waterfalls in Cairns, Windin Falls has to be seen to be believed. After a relatively easy, 1.5-hour hike in the Wooroonooran National Park, the Windin Falls track finishes at the top of an epic overflowing waterfall.

From the top of the falls, you'll get one of the best views in Cairns and the surrounding National Parks as you look down the ancient rainforest valley.

There is also an infinity pool at the edge of the waterfall, where on calm days, you can swim and enjoy the otherworldly view. Just be careful of the steep drop as serious injury has occurred here too, unfortunately.

Tip: visit for sunrise for the best views of the valley below the waterfall.

Top of windin falls cairns
Windin Falls Lookout
Windn falls cairns

Related: Alexandra Falls (Cape Tribulation)

25. West Mulgrave Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: Same trailhead as Windin
  • Height: 60 m+
  • Swimming: Yes

West Mulgrave Falls is perhaps one of the most underrated or perhaps unacknowledged waterfalls near Cairns. I discovered this one on an old map when looking for new hiking trails in the Tablelands.

This incredible cascading waterfall plunges into a deep, crystal-clear freshwater swimming pool in the middle of the rainforest.

However, getting to West Mulgrave Falls involves a long and difficult trek through dense rainforest terrain. I've noticed recently that it is quite overgrown and the track is not well-marked, so you will need some experience in the bush before embarking on this epic waterfall hike.

West mulgrave falls cairns
West Mulgrave Falls

26. Spring Creek Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 60 km
  • Height: 50 m+
  • Swimming: Yes

Spring Creek Falls, also known as "Black Rock Waterfalls" is a unique set of waterfalls located within the Mowbray Valley just north of Cairns near Port Douglas. Getting here involves a scenic, yet lengthy boulder and rock-skipping journey up the Mowbray Valley.

The main waterfall is by far the largest and marks the end of the line. It's also a great way to cool off in the serenity of the National Park. Best of all, chances are you'll have it all to yourself, at least I did!

Spring creek waterfall port douglas
Spring Creek Falls

27. Hartley's Creek Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 40 km
  • Height: 15 m+
  • Swimming: Yes

Hartley's Creek is well-known in Cairns for the popular tourist attraction: Hartley's Crocodile Adventures. Don't worry, though; there are no crocodiles at Hartley's Creek Falls! This waterfall hike is a popular walk due to the proximity to Cairns' Northern Suburbs.

At the waterfall, you'll find a wide and deep freshwater swimming hole and a tall cascade gushing down the cliff face above. Furthermore, there are multiple more freshwater swimming holes along the track where you can stop en route to Hartley's Creek Falls.

Hartleys creek falls waterfall
Hartley's Creek Falls

28. Souita Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 110 km
  • Height: Approx. 10 m
  • Swimming: Yes

One of the most off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, Souita Falls, is a two-tiered cascading waterfall in a small pocket of rainforest located behind rural farmland in the Tablelands. This is definitely a hidden gem!

Souita Falls is probably one of the least-known and therefore least-visited waterfall near Cairns and the surrounding Tablelands.

If you're up for a quick walk to some secluded waterfalls with a bonus chance of spotting a wild platypus, then put this one in your Cairns waterfall-chasing day trips!

Soiuita falls waterfall atherton tablelands and cairns
Souita Falls

29. Big Millstream Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 120 km
  • Height: 27 m
  • Swimming: No

The next two waterfalls run on "The Millstream", a watercourse carved through ancient lava flows. Big Millstream Falls was, in my opinion, one of the most underrated waterfalls near Cairns and actually holds the title of "Australia's Widest Single-Drop Waterfall" according to the team at Queensland Parks.

Access to the waterfall is on a short, sealed track leading to a lookout point above the falls. Unfortunately, there is no access to the base of the falls, which means although it looks perfect for swimming, you can't actually do so. However, I enjoyed a great view from the short lookout point above the falls.

Read More: Big Millstream & Little Millstream Falls

Big millstream waterfall tablelands
Big Millstream Falls

30. Little Millstream Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 120 km
  • Height: 15 m
  • Swimming: Yes

Little Millstream Falls is the second waterfall on this waterfall and is smaller than its bigger brother. However, don't let the name deceive you. This waterfall is actually a trio of solid cascading flows, with a vast, deep swimming hole underneath.

Unlike Big Millstream, there is access to the base of these falls, where you can swim or go platypus spotting. In my opinion, Little Millstream falls is more scenic than Big Millstream falls due to the several cascades around the deep pool. However, since they're so close together, you can always visit both!

Little millstream falls
Little Millstream Falls

31. Mena Creek Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 105 km
  • Height: 15 m+
  • Swimming: No

Mena Creek Falls lies beside the tourist attraction of Paronella Park within a small country town on the Cassowary Coast, roughly 105 km south of Cairns.

This quaint little waterfall gets its fame from the adjacent castle, built by José Paronella in the 1930s. According to the story, José’s dream was to build a castle after emigrating to Australia in the early 1900s from Spain to work the cane farms.

While Paronella Park requires an entry ticket, you can check out Mena Waterfall for free at the viewing platform below the falls. However, don't get too excited about swimming here as there are croc warning signs everywhere!

Entry Ticket: Paronella Park

Mena creek waterfall
Mena Creek Falls

32. Wankaroo Falls

  • Distance from Cairns: 75 km
  • Height: 35 meters
  • Swimming: Yes

Wankaroo Falls isn’t listed in any hiking guidebooks or tourist information sheets. It’s very much a hidden gem, and a waterfall you’ll likely have all to yourself if you make the effort to find it.

This 35-metre single-drop waterfall lies deep in the Wooronooran National Park and boasts a beautiful, deep rainforest pool. The trail is unmarked, meaning I would only recommend this waterfall mission for those with a fair bit of experience hiking in Far North Queensland!

Wankaroo falls, wooroonooran national park

33. Wallaman Falls - Australia's Tallest Waterfall

  • Distance from Cairns: 280 km+
  • Height: 268 meters
  • Swimming: Yes

Okay, Wallaman Falls isn't exactly a "Cairns waterfall". While it does take about 3.5 hours to get here from Cairns, I feel it still deserves a spot on this list since it's easily Far North Queensland's most impressive waterfall.

In saying that, maybe even the best in Australia— it is already ranked as the biggest single drop waterfall in Australia and one of the most significant falls by GeoScience Australia!

For those visiting Cairns on a road trip or if you're a Cairns local planning a trip south to Mission Beach or Townsville, add Australia's tallest waterfall to the list— Wallaman Falls!

Wallaman falls waterfall girringun national park
Wallaman Falls

Where to Stay In Cairns

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!

How to Get to the Waterfalls Around Cairns

By far, the best way to explore Cairns and the Tropical North is to rent or bring your own car.

While I understand that that won't be possible for everyone, you simply will be very limited if you don't.

So, if you're keen on checking out some epic Cairns waterfalls, I suggest renting a car.

The best way to compare prices for rental deals is to use DiscoverCars, which is similar to Skyscanner, comparing and listing deals for cars based on your travel time and budget.

Rental van in cairns

Best Time to Visit Waterfalls in Cairns

Many of the waterfalls in Cairns are great for visiting year-round. However, several of the falls will vary in terms of strength and flow at different times of the year.

It's important to know that unlike the southern regions of Australia, Cairns has two seasons; wet and dry.

Dry Season: April to November
During this time, the weather is usually dry and warm, averaging around 26-28 degrees Celcius. There isn't much rainfall, meaning that some larger rain-fed waterfalls like Barron Falls might be reduced to more of a trickle.

However, you'll be excused if you initially thought that all the waterfalls weren't flowing well in the dry season. I've visited many of these waterfalls in both the dry and the wet seasons. As you can see from the photos, most of the waterfalls still had great flow, even in the drier months. This is because many of the rainforest peaks surrounding Cairns generate clouds and remain wet through a phenomenon known as a "perpetual rainforest". Due to the rugged terrain around Cairns and the Far North, water is funneled through ancient creek systems which are often the source of many of these waterfalls.

So, while it might not be raining around Cairns, you can still expect to find healthy, flowing waterfalls!

Wet Season: December to March
During these hot and wet summer months, Cairns sees tropical rainfall almost daily. This results in some pretty powerful waterfall flows. The wet season is a great time to check out the larger waterfalls to see them at their best. However, swimming can be very dangerous due to quickly-changing conditions.

Cairns fairy falls

Packing List for Cairns Waterfall Adventures

Here are some must-have items when hitting the trails to some of Cairns' best waterfalls!

  • Dry bag to keep your valuables dry
  • Mosquito and leech repellent
  • A phone with reception or downloaded maps
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Swimmers, of course!

FAQ About Visiting Cairns' Waterfalls

What are the must-visit waterfalls in Cairns?

The must-visit waterfalls in Cairns that are easily accessible for most include Millaa Millaa Falls, Josephine Falls, and Barron Falls. Each offers unique natural beauty and excellent photo opportunities. If you're feeling adventurous, check out Windin Falls, a drop I always recommend to other travellers!

Is it safe to swim in Cairns' waterfalls and swimming holes?

Many waterfalls in Cairns have designated swimming areas. However, always read and follow posted signs and guidelines and remember to be croc wise.

Do I need a guide to explore these waterfalls?

A guide is not strictly necessary for any waterfalls or to explore any National Park in Far North Queensland. There are also no entrance fees to any of the waterfalls or parks. However, jumping on a tour with a local guide can enhance your experience by providing unique insights.

What are the easy-access waterfalls close to Cairns?

In my opinion, the Crystal Cascades is the easiest waterfall to access from the city of Cairns if you have your own car. However, due to the lack of public transport to the cascades, you might want to check out Stoney Creek instead.

What is the famous waterfall slide near Cairns?

This is Josephine Falls and its easy to access once you get there, although it is at least one hour drive from Cairns. The best option is to book this Atherton Tablelands tour if you don't have your own car.

More Cairns & FNQ Travel Guides

I hope that this comprehensive guide to the best waterfalls in Cairns and its surrounds has been useful in planning your waterfall-chasing adventures in tropical Far North Queensland!

For more travel guides, inspiration and things to do and see, take a pick from my other articles in the list below. If you have any questions or any recommendations for waterfalls that you think I should visit and add to my list, contact me and let me know, or drop a comment in the form below.

Cairns waterfalls
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

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. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.


Friday 16th of July 2021

Thanks for these guides I’ve been using this one and the hiking one as a reference while I’m here and they’ve been so useful

Olly Gaspar

Sunday 18th of July 2021

No worries Javan, hope you're enjoying TNQ


Wednesday 30th of June 2021

Thanks so much for the comprehensive and detailed guide!

Olly Gaspar

Thursday 1st of July 2021

No problem, enjoy the epic waterfalls around Cairns


Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Amazing guide. Very thorough and super instigating...can't wait to hit this trip to Cairns!

Olly Gaspar

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Thanks Deb, you'll love it!


Tuesday 18th of May 2021

Excellent guide, thank you

Olly Gaspar

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

No problem I'm glad it was useful!