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.

SWIMMING HOLES AT EMERALD CREEK ATHERTON TABLELANDS NEAR CAIRNS

If this is the first time reading my blog, then make sure to read my list of epic things to see and do in Cairns. Also, after checking out this waterfall, why not explore more epic Cairns waterfalls or hiking trails, or check out this list for where to stay.

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

How to Get to Here 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.

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.

EMERALD CREEK FALLS MAIN WATERFALL AND SWIMMING AREA

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.

Book the best price for: Cairns Waterfall Tour

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.

EMERALD CREEK FALLS ANT HILL CAIRNS

EMERALD CREEK FALLS WALKING TRACK
The start of the Emerald Creek Falls track

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.

EMERALD CREEK FALLS MAIN WATERFALL AND SWIMMING AREA

Don’t Miss: Kahlpahlim Rock Hike (very close by)


Grayl Bottle

Want to know my secret to fresh drinking water anywhere on earth?

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!

  • Saves thousands of plastic bottles from landfill
  • Removes 99.99%+ of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, particulates, chemicals, and even heavy metals
  • Easiest and most convenient water filter on the market

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.

EMERALD CREEK WATERFALL CASCADES TOP VIEWING PLATFORM LOOKOUT
EMERALD CREEK FALLS FROM THE TOP WATERFALL NEAR CAIRNS

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.

SWIMMING HOLES AT EMERALD CREEK ATHERTON TABLELANDS NEAR CAIRNS

ALSO NEARBY: Turtle Rock Hike, Davies Creek National Park

Finding the 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.

SWIMMING HOLES AT EMERALD CREEK ATHERTON TABLELANDS NEAR CAIRNS
SWIMMING HOLES AT EMERALD CREEK ATHERTON TABLELANDS NEAR CAIRNS

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. 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. So, why not make it a waterfall day trip and check out the other epic waterfalls near Cairns.

Read More: Davies Creek Falls

DAVIES CREEK FALLS VIEWPOINT

Davies Creek Waterfall
DAVIES CREEK FALLS SWIMMING AREA
Swimming area near Davies Creek

Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay

Planning a trip to Cairns and wondering where to base yourself? Below I’ve listed some of the best options near Cairns Esplanade. I’ve also written a comprehensive accommodation guide to Cairns, as well as a comprehensive Port Douglas Accommodation guide too.

Crystalbrook Riley – If luxury and location are what you’re after, you can’t beat the Crystalrbook Riley. This is the best 5-star resort in Cairns and features absolutely everything you’d expect from a Crystalbrook resort.

Tip: Make sure to head up to Rocco’s Bar at the top of the Crystalbrook Riley for great views over Cairns!

girl sunbathing at Crystalbrook Riley resort in Cairns

Rydges Resort – This hotel offers excellent bang-for-buck in terms of an epic stay for a decent price! The location is perfect, close to the esplanade and features include three swimming pools, two tennis courts, a jacuzzi, a fitness centre and even an award-winning restaurant.

RYDGES ESPLANADE RESORT IN CAIRNS, WHERE TO STAY ACCOMMODATION

Fitzroy Island Resort – If you’d rather sleep out on one of the picturesque Great Barrier Reef Islands, look no further than the Fitzroy Island Resort. While you can get out here on a day trip, I highly recommend spending the night so you get more time to explore the reef, coral beaches and rainforest walking trails.

FITZROY ISLAND RESORT

Gilligan’s Backpackers – The best backpacker option for a great vibe in Cairns is Gilligan’s Backpackers. That’s because this one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and a great common area to meet other travellers.

GILLIGANS BACKPACKER RESORT

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!

SWIMMING HOLES AT EMERALD CREEK ATHERTON TABLELANDS NEAR CAIRNS
SWIMMING HOLES AT EMERALD CREEK ATHERTON TABLELANDS NEAR CAIRNS
SWIMMING HOLES AT EMERALD CREEK ATHERTON TABLELANDS NEAR CAIRNS
EMERALD CREEK FALLS MAIN WATERFALL AND SWIMMING AREA

Emerald Creek Falls Pinterest

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