A gentle caressing breeze, picturesque horizons, a laid-back atmosphere and attractions galore, Tropical North Queensland has it all. On our journey to one of Australia's sunniest and most carefree destinations, we discovered a smorgasbord of delights around every corner in this region where the lush World Heritage-listed rainforest meets the pristine reef.
Here are some highlights of our time in this sumptuous area, which are sure to leave you enchanted, too.
Related article: Plan the Perfect Honeymoon in Tropical North Queensland
First stop: Palm Cove
Palm Cove is one of this region's treasures, just a 30 minute drive north of Cairns. This is a relaxing, resort-style destination, with gorgeous Melaleuca trees lining the beachside esplanade. Treat yourself to a day at the spa to really get into holiday mode. While there are plenty to choose from, we loved the Reef House Day Spa, an award-winning establishment with a host of invigorating treatments from facials and specialty massages to Paloma hand treatments and aromatherapy.
At Palm Cove, set aside plenty of time for lounging on the serene beach, where my other half and I spent many an hour under the shade of the trees, books in hand. Come nightfall, savour the fare at the oceanside Bella Baci restaurant, which serves up mouthwatering Italian and seafood dishes.
After a couple of days of tranquility at Palm Cove, we headed north to enjoy another of this region's best beach towns – Port Douglas. It's just a 40 minute drive from Palm Cove along a stunning coastal road that treats you to beautiful views of the sparkling sapphire ocean, dramatic cliffs and long stretches of white sand.
Laid-back luxury in Port Douglas
Upon arrival at the Port Douglas township, we were immediately charmed by its sunny skies, lush tree-lined main street and an abundance of charming cafés, restaurants and shops. Then there's the beach itself! The golden sands of Four Mile Beach are perfectly contrasted by the emerald green palms that line the shore, and the water is balmy and warm. Swim between the flags under the careful watch of local lifeguards and be sure to wander up the road and try a delicious ice cream from Wicked Ice Cream Co.
Port Douglas is also the perfect gateway to other attractions of the region, such as the Great Barrier Reef. Take a cruise out over the crystal-clear waters of this World Heritage-listed site and explore the colourful underwater world on offer. Quicksilver Cruises can take you out on a wavepiercing catamaran to the edge of the bold and bright Agincourt Reef. I went snorkelling, but you can also go diving or even stay dry by heading underwater in a semi-sub! Prepare to see some of the many thousands of species of fish, corals and sponges, plus a myriad of other ocean-dwellers. For an extra special experience, take a scenic helicopter flight over the reef for a birds' eye view of nature's wonder. This is a great activity for couples, with the drama of the scenery something truly special.
Couples and honeymooners eager to see a slice of the region's stunning rainforest should indulge in a Flames of the Forest dining experience. This offers up the chance to feast upon a sumptuous tropical dinner amongst the trees – and there's plenty of romance on the menu, too. Candles, gorgeous twinkling lights and the gentle swishing of tree leaves set the scene for a magical experience. The meals come bursting with flavour, enjoyed alongside premium wines. This is one of those dreamy, surreal and unique experiences that will stand out to you long after you return from your holiday.
Revelling in the region's natural features
If the rainforest captures your imagination as much as it did ours, try to leave the beaches and reefs for a day to explore the Daintree Rainforest, some parts of which are just a 20 minute drive from Port Douglas. We took a tour, but private charters – perfect for honeymooners – are available, and you can also discover the region for yourselves.The Daintree National Park is home to the oldest living rainforest on earth, so nature-loving couples will love exploring it together. The Mosman Gorge is one of the park's best attractions, with the river, steep hills and valleys and gorgeous walking tracks the perfect recipe for a beautiful day out. Swim, walk and enjoy a romantic picnic while you're there.
We also paid a visit to the breathtaking Cape Tribulation, another part of the Daintree Rainforest. Here, views of the turquoise ocean greeting the golden sands that stretch out to meet miles of thick green forest will leave you simply awe-inspired. Wander vast, empty beaches but be sure head to higher ground with a bushwalk that can provide you with stunning panoramic views of these contrasting landscapes. A stop at the Walu Wugirriga, or Mount Alexandra lookout, is an absolute must. The views of the Daintree River mouth, Snapper Island and Low Isles are utterly incredible.
If you want to stretch your legs, follow in our footsteps and take the Jindalba Boardwalk. This is a laid-back trail through the rainforest, where you might get lucky and spot a cassowary or tree kangaroo. There are plenty of other walks on offer, and if you're energetic you might like to try the epic six hour Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail, which we hear is a challenge, but with rewarding panoramas that are well worth it.
Whether you're taking your honeymoon or indulging in a romantic escape just because, Tropical North Queensland has everything you could want for and more, so soak in the sun and enjoy getting back to nature.