A complete guide to visiting Emerald Creek Falls, an idyllic waterfall and swimming spot near Mareeba that is easily accessible from Cairns.
Are you looking to visit an off-the-beaten-path waterfall destination near Cairns and the Tablelands? You’ve found yourself in the right place. Emerald Creek Falls is a great little waterfall and swimming spot that is a favourite amongst locals.
The waterfall offers a larger, cascading level and deep swimming holes in a drier, eucalypt basin. This makes it a perfect spot to cool off all year round and is quite a unique waterfall compared to the others around Cairns.
In this quick guide, I aim to share with you everything you need to know about visiting this waterfall. I’ll include how to get here, what to expect and I’ll throw in some photos that I hope will inspire your visit.
- Where is Emerald Creek Falls?
- How to Get to Emerald Creek From Cairns
- Emerald Creek Falls Walking Track
- What to Expect at Emerald Creek Falls
- Finding the Private Tropical Oasis at Emerald Creek
- Is Emerald Creek Dog-Friendly?
- Don’t Miss Davies Creek Falls Nearby
- More Epic Cairns Adventure Ideas
Where is Emerald Creek Falls?
Emerald Creek Falls is a multi-level waterfall located in the Dinden West Forest Reserve, near the township of Mareeba, approximately 30 kilometres from Cairns. Below I have pinned the exact location of the waterfall. However, Google is notorious for guiding people down the wrong road in search of this waterfall.
Therefore, I suggest you read on for exact directions to Emerald Creek Falls from Cairns or Mareeba.
- Google Maps Pin: "Emerald Creek Falls" - Mareeba
Don't make the mistake of allowing Google Maps to take you directly to Emerald Creek Falls. We took a wrong turn and ended up on private land. If you come to a dead-end section around banana plantations with a sign to turn back, then you know you've made the same mistake I did. Read on for better directions.
How to Get to Emerald Creek From Cairns
Since this spot is a bit off-the-beaten-track, to get to Emerald Creek Falls, you're going to need to have your own car or transport.
Driving here yourself should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cairns.
To get here, take the Captain Cook Highway north towards Kuranda. Then, continue onto the Kennedy Highway. There are a few signposts for Emerald Creek Falls along the road. The turnoff into Davies Creek is called Tinaroo Creek Road, approximately 10 kilometres past the Davies Creek turn off.
Nearby is the small township of Mareeba, where you can stop and grab some food or refill your water bottles.
You'll need to follow this road for about 5 minutes until you reach Cobra Road, where you turn left. This is a steep, unsealed dirt road that winds itself down into the valley. There are signs indicating that the road is not suitable for trailers and caravans.
Car Rentals in Far North Queensland
Cairns is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia and car rentals quickly book out! I recommend booking well in advance. I always use RentalCars.com as they compare the widest range of rentals across dealerships in the Far North.
Alternative Option: Cairns Waterfall Tour
If you don't have your own car but still want to experience some epic waterfalls near Cairns, then it's possible to book a tour that takes you to some of the best ones.
The link below is the best-rated waterfall tour in Cairns, which provides free hotel pickup and visits Millaa Millaa Falls and Josephine Falls, to name a few.
Emerald Creek Falls Walking Track
From the Emerald Creek Falls car park, it's a short 1-kilometer walk to both the waterfall viewpoint and swimming holes.
On the way, you'll notice that the landscape is drier than the surrounding rainforest. You'll see eucalyptus trees and small shrubs, as well as huge ant mounds on the side of the track.
On the way, there are several small swimming holes that are fed by the creek and waterfall above. If you want to cool off and have a private swimming hole to yourself, then just take a small detour to the left of the track and follow the creek.
Featured in: Awesome Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands
What to Expect at Emerald Creek Falls
The upper level has the largest waterfall, however, in my opinion, is less impressive than the lower one. This is due to the fact that although it is larger, it cascades down large granite boulders rather than free plunging into a pool.
Emerald Creek Falls Height: The main waterfall at Emerald Creek Falls is approximately 30 meters in height. Cumulatively between all the levels, I'd say that it's about 50 meters.
Don't Miss: Kahlpahlim Rock Hike (very close by)
#1 Water Bottle Filter
Enter the Grayl GeoPress Water Filter & Purifier Bottle! I take this 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.
Upper Waterfall Viewpoint
About 10-15 minutes after leaving the car park, there is a signposted fork in the road. The right trail leads to the upper waterfall viewing platform, while the left winds down to the swimming areas.
If you want a good view of the upper section, then it's worth taking the quick 10-minute walk to the top.
Swimming Holes at Emerald Creek Falls
At the fork, you can turn left and continue down, crossing some boulders and a creek before reaching the lower waterfall level. Here, the waterfall spills through three close channels and plunges into a deep swimming hole.
The water is deep enough to swim, and is a perfect place to relax and cool down.
A little further down from the waterfall pool are some smaller rock pools and lagoons that are also great for swimming.
Also Nearby: Turtle Rock Hike, Davies Creek National Park
Finding the Private Tropical Oasis at Emerald Creek
My favourite location at Emerald Creek Falls was a small sheltered rainforest oasis at one of the creek crossings. It looked like something out of a movie set, with soft sand edges that lead into crystal freshwater swimming holes.
To top it off, there's even a perfectly positioned palm tree and overhanging tropical plants and vines for shade.
Is Emerald Creek Dog-Friendly?
Dogs are permitted at Emerald Creek Falls. Since it is a State Forest, not a National Park, there are less stringent rules on bringing domestic pets here.
That means that if you're a Cairns local or are traveling Australia with your dog, then they can enjoy the refreshing waterfall pools at Emerald Creek too. Bright Camping has a great resource for enjoying a camping trip or adventure with your dog.
Related: Wallaman Falls (tallest in Australia)
Don't Miss Davies Creek Falls Nearby
If you're coming from Cairns, then it's well worth stopping off at another waterfall close by. Davies Creek Falls is a much higher waterfall, which also has its own swimming holes and lagoons.
From Emerald Creek and Mareeba, it'll only take about 25 minutes and is on the way back to Cairns.
50+ More Cairns Bucketlist Items
- Visit the Cairns Islands
- Kuranda Railway & Skyrail
- Rusty's Markets
- Day trip to Cape Tribulation
- ... +51 more things to do in Cairns!
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.
- Crystalbrook Riley - If luxury and location are what you're after, you can't beat the Crystalbrook Riley. This is the best 5-star resort in Cairns and features absolutely everything you'd expect from a Crystalbrook resort.
- Fitzroy Island Resort - Sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands at Fitzroy Island Resort. Spending the night on the island can work out cheaper than staying in town and means you get more time to explore the reef, coral beaches and rainforest walking trails.
- Gilligan's Backpackers - The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns. Great place to meet like-minded travelers and has facilities including a pool. air-con, a huge shared kitchen, and a great common area!
- Pepper's Beach Club - stay at the best beach resort in the heart of Palm Cove on the Cairns Northern Beaches!
For a bigger list, don't miss my Cairns accommodation guide or as an alternative stay in FNQ, read my Port Douglas Accommodation guide too.
More Epic Cairns Adventure Ideas
I hope that you've enjoyed this quick guide to visiting Emerald Creek Falls near Mareeba in Far North Queensland. For more epic waterfalls, hikes and adventures in the area, check out my other articles. I'm sure you'll find something new!
Also, below are some more photos from our first trip to Emerald Creek Falls. Enjoy your visit!