Emerald Creek Falls is a multi-level waterfall located in the Dinden West Forest Reserve, approximately 30 kilometers from Cairns.
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.
How to Get to Emerald Creek Falls From Cairns
To get to Emerald Creek Falls, you’re going to need to have your own car or transport. It’ll take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes if you’re driving from Cairns.
To get here, take the Captain Cook Highway north towards Kuranda. From here, 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 kilometers 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.
Don’t make the mistake of allowing Google Maps to take you 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. I’ve pinned the exact location of the waterfall carpark below regardless.
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.
BOOK THE BEST RANKED AND CHEAPEST WATERFALL TOUR FOR UNDER $110 HERE
Emerald Creek Falls Walking Track
From the Emerald Creek Falls carpark, 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.
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 THE KAHLPAHLIM ROCK HIKE NEARBY
Upper Waterfall Viewpoint
About 10-15 minutes after leaving the carpark, 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
Private Tropical Oasis
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.
A Dog-Friendly Waterfall Near Cairns
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.
Don’t Miss Davies Creek Falls Nearby
If you’re coming from Cairns, then it’s well worth stopping off at another waterfall closeby. 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. So, why not make it a waterfall day trip from Cairns The other best waterfalls near Cairns.
READ THE FULL BLOG POST: Davies Creek Falls, Davies Creek National Park – Cairns
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL FOR $19 A NIGHT – MAD MONKEY BACKPACKERS
The best budget backpacker option in Cairns is Mad Monkey Backpackers. This one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and even free bike hire to take you around Cairns. There are also three locations across Cairns, but we thought that the village was the best.
BUDGET HOSTEL CLOSEST TO THE ESPLANADE FOR $26 A NIGHT – YHA CAIRNS CENTRAL HOSTEL
If you’re looking to stay close to Cairns center, then you can’t beat YHA Central. It’s only a 5-minute walk to the esplanade and situated right near pubs and supermarkets. There’s also a pool and two spas, with a free breakfast included.
SLEEP ON A BOAT IN CAIRNS HARBOUR – BOATEL CAIRNS
If you’re looking for a unique stay in Cairns, then you can’t get much more unusual than staying at a “boatel”. It’s located 1 KM from Cairns and only a 6-minute walk from Cairns Rainforest Dome. The boat has free WiFi, AC, a bar and even a TV in the room.
AIRBNB near Emerald Creek Falls
Another great option for places to stay near Cairns is to use Airbnb. If you’re looking to stay a little closer to Emerald Creek Falls and the Atherton Tablelands, this is a good bet.